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Shocking Things Wall Street Financiers Say Off the Record About Their Bloated, Corrupt Industry

A new survey shows how brazenly immoral Wall Street is.

"A particularly troubling and consistent finding throughout the survey is that Wall Street’s future leaders–the young professionals who will one day assume control of the trillions of dollars that the industry manages—have lost their moral compass, accept corporate wrongdoing as a necessary evil and fear reporting this misconduct."

In a shocking new survey commissioned by the Labaton Sucharow law firm, Wall Street insiders say that breaking the law, screwing your clients and covering up crimes is a way of life on Wall Street. The shock is not that cheating is going on. We all know that. The shock is that these financiers would actually admit it on a survey. This should tell us that the Wall Street culture is so brazenly corrupt, so confident of not getting caught, so certain that a passive public won't fight back that those surveyed didn't even bother to lie about the fact that they were living, breathing sociopaths.

Here are some of the key findings of this sample of 250 traders, portfolio managers, investment bankers, hedge fund professionals, financial analysts, investment advisors, asset managers and stock brokers.

Catch me if you can!

"24% of financial services professionals likely would engage in insider trading to make $10 million… if they wouldn’t get arrested.  That figure surges to 38% for individuals with 10 years or less in the industry."

Screw your clients.

"28% of financial services professionals feel that the financial services industry does not put clients’ interests first."

They do it, so we have to do it too.

"More than half of respondents–52%–felt it was likely that their competitors have engaged in unethical or illegal activity to gain an edge in the market; 24% felt employees at their own company likely have engaged in misconduct to get ahead."

Guess what? We still are cheating.

"Misconduct is still widespread in the financial services industry; 23% of respondents  indicated that they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace."

To rise in a criminal organization, you have to be a criminal.

"Looking at seniority, 36% of respondents with 10 years or less experience in the industry believed financial services professionals may have to engage in misconduct to get ahead."

The boss loves it when you cheat.

"17% of respondents felt that if leaders of their organization suspected that a top performer was earning large profits from insider trading, they likely would ignore the problem. More alarming, 15% of professionals in the industry believed that if leaders of their organization learned that a top performer had engaged in insider trading, they were unlikely to report that crime to law enforcement or regulatory authorities."

(Bloomberg News columnist Jonathan Weil comes to Wall Street's defense by calling the survey a "worthless smear" because it's not a scientific sample. But "scientific" or not, he has no explanation at all for why sizable percentages of these 250 respondents are so ethically challenged.)  

Are the big banks and hedge funds criminal enterprises?

Given the attitudes of our financial elites, you would expect bad things to happen. The list of high crimes and misdemeanors is mind boggling, and growing every day.

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