Codes of conduct in the financial sector
The financial sector in Luxembourg, as elsewhere in the world, curiously suffers from two contradictory reputations. For some, finance is an unbridled, unregulated realm governed by the free market law of the jungle. For others, it is the regulated sector par excellence. It is indeed subject to dozens of legal texts and to thousands of pages of instructions issued by supervisory authorities and central banks that monitor the slightest movement made by the sector’s actors.
If the first sentiment is often that of the general public, the second is that of the financial actors themselves, who experience first hand all the legal, regulatory, and commercial constraints that are an integral part of their professions.
Beyond the public’s own expectations as to a tightening of the regulatory framework governing the financial sector, the sector practitioners are also subject to an ethical obligation, if not self-regulation. In practice, this obligation means adopting ethical codes or codes of conduct in which professionals themselves define their understanding of their profession and how it is to be conducted, and willingly submit to principles constituting a number of commitments towards the outside world.
In Luxembourg, the associations and organisations brought together in the Luxembourg Financial Industry Federation (PROFIL) felt the need to ascertain that such principles exist in Luxembourg just as they do in other countries or financial centres. Yet, all too frequently, they remain little known to the general public. However, it is essential for any standard to be made public. Transparency is the underlying principle of implementing such codes and it is the objective of the present compilation.
PROFIL has decided to give a new public visibility to the codes of conduct of the professionals of the Luxembourg financial centre. Thus, in addition to the circulation that the author organisations of each code of conduct have already undertaken and will continue to undertake, PROFIL intends to make the principal codes available to the largest possible audience by publishing them on this website.
PROFIL neither intends to add nor to remove elements from existing codes. Neither is it up to the Federation to impose penalties for failures to apply these codes, since the legitimacy of a rule does not derive from a given penalty. Nevertheless, with this compilation, the professional associations member of PROFIL intend to reaffirm the professional standards to be applied by their members and thus provide a frame of reference for what professionals themselves consider to be their duty.
The content of the published codes belongs exclusively to the respective authors and organisations that promote them. PROFIL does not take their place. The various codes are the product of the specific needs of the respective author organisations. The content of the present compilation cannot be indistinctly applied to each professional of the financial centre.
However, it is not surprising to find a guiding thread common to all the above codes, which is honesty, fairness, loyalty towards the customer, respect for the integrity of markets, competence, transparency, and, finally, respect for rules. PROFIL readily advocates these guiding principles. These should be universal principles for every profession and they are not to be delimited by national borders. With the present compilation, Luxembourg and its financial centre reiterate their adherence to a business ethic that can be simply described as the respect for others.