An Anatomy of Conduct and Culture in Global Finance

Presenter: Christina Skinner

Assistant Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, and an Academic Visitor at the University of Oxford, Faculty of Law

 

Abstract: 

 This project addresses the issue of conduct and culture in financial services. This study is evolving against a backdrop of the financial services industry’s years-long struggle with misconduct.  Perhaps not surprisingly, prudential regulators and legal academics have become heavily focused on the possible links between financial (mis)conduct and financial stability.

However, still unanswered are the difficult questions regarding what, exactly, shapes culture within and among the largest, globally active financial institutions, and what role if any should prudential regulators play in financial firm culture.  In its broadest statement, this book attempts early answers at those questions by undertaking an empirical – interview based – assessment of the industry.  At this stage, I have a number of tentative hypotheses that I’m hoping to explore:

  1. There are structural features of the financial services industry that, where present, can contribute to cultures of misconduct (e.g., performance/incentive structures – are often discussed – but I am looking to identify others). 
  2. Culture spreads from the “middle” (i.e., not only the “top”, as the traditional discourse would have it).
  3. The financial services industry lacks a strong sense of professional ethic that overrides other salient professional norms (e.g., forward-leaning/risk-taking, innovative thinking, networking skills).
  4. Related, characteristics that typically garner one a ‘good’ reputation in the industry are usually inconsistent with prudence which, when combined with certain firm structures or personalities, can adversely impact an institution’s culture.

Still in the design stage of this project, I look forward to testing my planned interview questions with your group.

Christina Skinner is an Assistant Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, and an Academic Visitor at the University of Oxford, Faculty of Law.  She specializes in financial regulation, with a particular focus on global institutions and markets. Her research interests include financial stability, financial technology, capital markets, and conduct and culture in financial services.  Prior to joining Brooklyn Law, she was an Associate-in-Law at Columbia Law School. Christina received her J.D. from Yale Law School and an A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, at Princeton University.