How do you improve the culture of Wall Street and restore faith in finance? Personally punish the industry’s bad apples, according to two longtime observers.
“I think we need to personalize the penalties for those who are sinners. It’s got to hurt them individually,” Charles Ellis, a prominent investment consultant and author, said at an event this week in New York on improving the financial industry.
Ellis, who founded institutional advisor Greenwich Associates, said that new laws after the financial crisis didn’t go far enough because companies—usually via public stock owners—still pay penalties for misbehavior, not people.
“We’ve got to get past the idea of sending it against shareholders and writing it off the balance sheet,” Ellis said.
John Rogers, former CEO of the CFA Institute and previously a topInvesco executive, agreed.
“Making senior management personally responsible resonates with me. That’s true for actors down inside the banks too. They need to be apprehended, tried and punished,” Rogers explained, speaking alongside Ellis.
Rogers added that misbehavior would happen again, making existing oversight mechanisms important.
“To think that the banking system is ever going to have just white hats on is unfortunately not going to happen. That’s why there are safety nets in place to help deal with that,” he said. The safety nets that Rogers referred to include federal oversight put in place after the financial crisis, including higher cash reserve requirements for banks.