Transparency Task Force to audit financial sector’s codes of conduct

Founding chair Andy Agathangelou said the research would reveal best practice

The Transparency Task Force (TTF) has launched an independent audit of over 50 professional bodies’ codes of conduct in order to understand efforts being made to improve professional standards.

The pressure group’s market integrity team will also review the codes of trade associations and standards boards across the financial services sector.

It said its initial findings had already shown some sectors, particularly the banking sector, had made significant improvements on voluntary standards over the past few years, while others “remain somewhat reticent”.

The review will include an assessment of the codes of conduct of bodies such as the Pensions Management Institute, the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, which voluntarily signed up to the audit.

The Investment Association, the Tax-Incentivised Savings Association and the TTF itself have also agreed to take part in the analysis.

Participants are being asked to compare their code with industry best practice via an online questionnaire, with the research later being analysed by the TTF in a white paper.

TTF founding chair Andy Agathangelou said the research would demonstrate best practice.

“Dozens of volunteers from the code-making bodies have been working together to carry out an audit of existing codes of conduct with a view to defining and disseminating best practice,” he said. “The basic premise for the codes initiative is that everyone who conducts financial transactions should behave ‘professionally’ in the sense of demonstrating lofty standards of behaviour and competence.”

The TTF said voluntary codes of conduct were vital to raise standards of professionalism in tandem with regulation, arguing “the regulator can’t police every person every minute of the day”.

Good codes of conduct boost accountability for firms and individuals, it added.

Market integrity team leader and Workplace Pensions Direct non-executive director Steve Conley said the analysis would also include those who have not signed up voluntarily, and those that have dropped out.

“The best codes are often principles-based, rather than rules-based, built on core values defined by code users, and effectively monitored and enforced,” he said. “We wish to encourage code-makers whose members would most benefit from this exercise to join in.

“For those that don’t, we will be assessing their codes for them, to ensure that the industry results are representative of the market, rather than skewed towards willing participants.”

Conley added early results have already shown “exemplary” practice and “impressive thought-leadership”, which the white paper will showcase.

The TTF will report on its findings at a symposium on 18 October.

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