Bankers Should Take Hippocratic Oath Like Doctors, says Thinktank Reuters

Thinktank ResPublica is pushing for bankers to take a moral oath – like the Hippocratic Oath sworn by doctors – following the spate of financial scandals that have rocked global markets over the last few years.

The group has suggested an oath whereby workers at financial institutions pledge to behave with moral propriety when joining the banking world.

"As countless scandals demonstrate, virtue is distinctly absent from our banking institutions," said ResPublica director Phillip Blond.

"Britain's bankers lack a sense of ethos and the institutions they work for lack a clearly defined social purpose. The bankers' oath represents a remarkable opportunity to fulfil their proper moral and economic purpose, and finally place bankers on the road to absolution."

The oath includes promising to "confront impropriety", "prioritise the needs of customers", and to "provide a quality of service," amongst other things.

Doctors undertake the 2,500 year-old Hippocratic Oath when they start practicing medicine and can face severe consequences if they are found to have broken the code.

The world has witnessed a spate of market manipulation scandals that have caused a near-collapse in the global financial markets, such as Libor fixing, currency rigging, and toxic mortgage products.

Politicians and regulators have also said that the mis-selling of consumer products, such as payment protection insurance, credit card fraud insurance and complex derivatives, have also cost the banks billions and stemmed from a 'toxic' sales culture at some of the world's largest institutions.

What's Next?

Britain's bank workers number around 440,000 and account for around 1.4% of the UK's overall workforce.

ResPublica said that while it has drawn up a statement, it is up to the British Bankers' Association (BBA), the Building Societies Association and the new Banking Standards Review Council, to adopt and roll out the new oath.

Furthermore, the chairman of the Banking Standards Review Council, Sir Richard Lambert, will imminently showcase ResPublica's full report, Virtuous Banking: Placing Ethos And Purpose At The Heart Of Banking.

"Restoring trust and confidence is the banking industry's number one priority," said Paul Chisnall, executive director for financial policy and operations at the BBA.

"[It could] very well be part of the answer," he added.