Bringing Ethics to Accounting, Finance and Banking

18th International Symposium on Ethics, Business and Society


18th International Symposium on Ethics, Business and Society

Managers, businesspeople, politicians and, of course, academics and researchers should learn from the causes of the crisis and well-known scandals, and reflect on the proper role and ethical implications of finance, banking and accounting. It would therefore be apt to analyze criticism and to present recommendations and alternatives in order to integrate ethics and efficiency, as well as to motivate and empower practitioners in the world of finance to commit themselves to justice, fairness, enhanced understanding, and personal integrity.

Fallout from the Crisis

Now, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, we have an opportune moment to consider how ethics should be better integrated into banking and financial markets, as well as in corporate finance and accounting. This will be the purpose of the upcoming international conference entitled Ethics in Accounting, Finance, and Banking: Toward a More Comprehensive Integration, which will be held at IESE Barcelona between June 30 and July 1, 2014.

Several relevant speakers will present their thoughts and engage in discussions with specialists and business executives from 20 countries worldwide. The conference will start with a general view of the current state of affairs with lectures by Colin Mayer, Professor of Management Studies at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and author of Firm Commitment: Why the Corporation is Failing Us and How to Restore Trust in it (2013), and John R. Boatright, Professor of Business Ethics and Management in the Graduate School of Business at Loyola University of Chicago and editor of Finance Ethics: Critical Issues in Theory and Practice (2010), one of the most comprehensive books on this field.

Banking and the Common Good

In some countries, banking has been under scrutiny for certain questionable practices, raising general concern regarding its role and contribution to the common good. Xavier Vives, Professor of Economics and Financial Management and Director of the Public-Private Sector Research Center will approach this issue by examining whether competition in banking is good for society. S. Prakash Sethi and Terrence F. Martell of the Weissman Center for International Business in New York will contribute their thoughts based on the research they carried out on corporate social responsibility reports of financial institutions worldwide. Finally, Robert B. Atwell, Chairman and CEO of Nicolet National Bank, Wisconsin will argue how banking can be concerned for the common good.

Ethics and Risk

The role that ethics plays in financial risk is another area of interest. Paul H. Dembinski, Director of the Foundation of the Observatoire de la Finance and Professor at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, will consider whether ethics in finance can prevent systemic risk. Meanwhile Antoni Subirà, Emeritus Professor of Finance at IESE and former Minister of Industry and Trade in the Catalonia Government will defend the importance of practical wisdom in managing finance.

Critics point out that finance dominates many corporations and this could be one of the causes of the financial crisis. Josep Maria Rosanas, Professor of Accounting and Control and Chair of the Crèdit Andorrà Chair of Markets, Organizations and Humanism at IESE will discuss the role of the financial function in the mission of the firm. He will also present some concerns on management control. For his part, Oriol Amat, Professor of Accounting of University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona and member of the Spanish National Securities Market Commission, will analyse how to integrate ethics in accounting and financial reports.

Responsible Investing

Last but not least, a panel of experts will examine responsible investing. Jaume Iglésies, Head of Values Based Investing, UBS AG, Zürich, will look at the current context and share perspectives on Socially Responsible Investment (SRI). Harry Hummels, Managing Director of SNS Impact Investing in the Netherlands, will discuss how impact investing could be a force for moral good. Finally, Fabrizio Ferraro, Associate Professor of Strategic Management at IESE, will examine how dialogue works in shareholder engagement.

Cutting-Edge Research

The conference will also include the presentation and discussion of 65 research papers. A large number of these are related to ethics in banking. Among these participants, several will discuss papers on responsible banking management, deviant behaviors in banking, ethics in leading and other banking operations, and corporate social responsibility in banking industry.

Another group of papers examine responsibility in making investments, with particular attention to microcredits. Several papers will also offer a variety of perspectives on shareholder responsibility.

Other papers focus on corporate finance and its relationship with value creation and shared value, financial reporting, corporate social responsibility in financial issues, responsibility in tax payment, etc., while others are more directly related to accounting issues and ethical managerial accounting.

Other papers present a broader view and discuss ethics vis-à-vis finance and capitalism, finance and the stock market, finance and crisis, and new perspectives in organizing finances. Two papers focus on integrating ethics in accounting and finance courses and one analyzes trends in financial research.

The conference strives to take one step in the long journey toward a more comprehensive integration of ethics into business activities.