It was legendary investor Sir John Templeton who said: “Competitive business has reduced costs, has increased variety, and improved quality. And if a business is not ethical, it will fail, perhaps not right away, but eventually.”
When I was leaving ING Investment Bank to work for Lehman Brothers, a manager told me: “there’s no utopia out there, especially on Wall Street where ethics are non-existent.” Wow! Youth is wasted on the young, that wise manager definitely knew what he was talking about.
A decade after I left Lehman Brothers, the firm went bankrupt. To repeat Sir John Templeton’s words: “. . . if a business is not ethical, it will fail, perhaps not right away, but eventually.”
In the news recently were details of how Lehman Brothers “cooked their books” by improperly accounting for REPO transactions. Whether or not this specific practice was used across Wall Street is yet to be determined, however, what is true is that ethics in business must return if America is to build a more prosperous and sustainable future.