Education and Industry Forum on Financial Services Culture

Draft Case Studies

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The protagonist in each of the case study is a junior employee facing an ethical dilemma. The scenarios are fictional. Although some detail comes from public sources, each scenario reflects many inputs and is not intended to portray any actual person. The actions and decisions represented in these case studies are presented for discussion, not necessarily for emulation.

In your paper you will describe the important details of the dilemma in your paper and then apply 3 normative approaches to the dilemma (Utilitarian, Rights, and Virtue Ethics). Use these frameworks to reach a conclusion or justification for what you would decide to do if you were in this situation.

Your paper should be 3-5 paragraphs or 1-1.5 pages single spaced and should be submitted through Canvas.

Utilitarian Approach: “To analyze an issue using the utilitarian approach, we first identify the various courses of action available to us. Second, we ask who will be affected by each action and what benefits or harms will be derived from each. And third, we choose the action that will produce the greatest benefits and the least harm. The ethical action is the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number.”

Rights Approach: “In deciding whether an action is moral or immoral using this second approach, then, we must ask, Does the action respect the moral rights of everyone? Actions are wrong to the extent that they violate the rights of individuals; the more serious the violation, the more wrongful the action.”

Virtue Approach: “Virtues are attitudes or character traits that enable us to be and to act in ways that develop our highest potential. They enable us to pursue the ideals we have adopted. Honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, and prudence are all examples of virtues.”
“In dealing with an ethical problem using the virtue approach, we might ask, What kind of person should I be? What will promote the development of character within myself and my community?”

Conduct After Hours

by Emmanuelle Bury and Danielle Warren

Part I

After many long, stressful days of hard work, the high net worth financial advisor team hosted a happy hour in a private room at a local cocktail lounge to celebrate the end of summer, and several consecutive quarters of superior performance. Everyone needed an evening to relax. At the firm, these celebrations are an important way to recognize strong individual and team performance. By creating stronger bonds among team members, the events are a critical component of establishing a sense of belonging. The celebrations are also part of the recognition process at the firm and help to reinforce continued strong performance. This team deserved recognition given their sustained commercial success. The division’s senior management, as well as junior and senior financial advisors attended. Similar to prior celebratory events, as the evening progressed, happy hour became happy hours.

Alex, recently named Best Asset Manager of the year, was one of the senior financial advisors who played an important role in the team’s success, and was known in the firm as being a driver of this culture of recognition. As the evening wore on, he showed signs that he had had too much to drink. Tonight he ordered several drinks for Francis, a junior advisor, who has worked at the firm for about two years. Francis is quicker at delivering on client pitches and offers more original ideas than other junior analysts. Therefore, Francis was often asked to work on Alex’s client portfolio. By the end of the event, only a few other junior financial advisors remained, in addition to Alex and Francis. Among the last to leave were Rory and Devon, who are junior financial advisors that joined the firm a year before Francis. While they all joined the team at different times, the junior advisors felt privileged to be on Alex’s team. Alex is a very charismatic leader with a great track record nurtured by a high expectation of loyalty from the team. Alex is also generous with praise for junior advisors, so long as they make decisions that Alex deems ‘smart.’

On the way out, Rory noticed Alex and Francis at the bar. Rory, who also overindulged, recorded a short clip of Alex swaying at the bar, and occasionally leaning close to Francis. It seemed like a funny situation—perfect for the blooper-reel they’d no doubt have for the year-end holiday party in a few months.

The next day, Rory looked at the video clip, and saw that Francis flinched and pulled away when Alex moved too close. Meeting Francis in the hallway, Rory asks Francis if everything was okay at the bar. Despite Francis’s reassurance that there was no trouble, Rory presses the point. “I’m fine. Please drop it. Don’t be weird,” Francis says. Rory is not convinced. Like every employee, Rory has taken a training course in sexual harassment. It is the firm’s policy that employees must report violations of the firm’s strict, zero-tolerance harassment policy. But Francis was clear: it was not Rory’s business.

Part II

The firm has policies that restrict the use of electronic recordings and social media, but permit it for limited business or personal use. It was, however, unclear how the policies applied to an after work social event. Management frequently encouraged the taking of photographs and video clips to help showcase the firm’s culture and camaraderie, and colleagues shared photos and comments on WhatsApp. The policy, however, also emphasized the importance of protecting the reputation of the firm and its intellectual property. It also prohibited defamatory comments in both business and personal use of social media communication. Rory wonders if his video clip should stay private—and whether he should delete it.

Rory decides not to report the conduct but two days later, Devon pulls Rory aside on the way to a meeting. Apparently, someone else had recorded a video of Alex at the bar. There were a lot of likes, as well as some unpleasant comments. Rory is visible in the background of the video holding up his cell phone. Devon heard someone say that the video was posted to Instagram and Human Resources would almost certainly have the video before the end of the day.



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