A recent study has suggested that the banking industry brings out people’s dishonesty. Bank employees’ honesty was tested by Swiss economists, which used a lab game that paid the employees cash for cheating. When they asked employees from an unnamed bank about their lives at home, their honesty was the same as any ordinary person. When the employees were questioned about their work at their bank, 16% of the employees cheated. Compared to others, the bank employees were no more dishonest. There dishonesty increased, when they were reminded about their job. This places the focus on the banking culture for increasing their dishonesty. Author of the study, Ernst Fehr was led to scientifically test bankers’ perceptions, following scandals involving multi-billion dollar international banks.
The study was dismissed by the American Bankers Association, because the study only looked at one bank. At the same time, the association stated that a high bar is set by the 6,000 banks that are in America for honesty and integrity. The fiduciary responsibility for customers are taken very seriously by banks.
When Fehr conducted the study, 128 employees from one bank was studied by researchers. Information on which bank was studied or its location was not revealed. The employees were given an honesty test that is fairly standard. One of the test included flipping a coin. Each employee was instructed to flip a coin ten times. Every time the coin was flipped and it matched the researchers’ request, the employee could earn $20. About 50% of the time, the employee would honestly report matching the request. When it came to answering questions that involved their duties at the bank and placing work at the forefront of their minds, the self-reports resulted in 58% of the time. The researchers used the same test about their job on 80 employees from other banks and the honesty level did not change.