Practical analysis for investment professionals
01 August 2013

Poll: What Is the Extent of Illegal Insider Trading in the Financial Markets?

What is the extent of illegal insider trading? The intangible nature of the activity makes it difficult, if not impossible, to measure. But what can be measured is investors’ perception of the pervasiveness of insider trading.

When we asked investors this question in our CFA Institute Financial NewsBrief survey, the results were disconcerting: 35% of the 832 respondents believe insider trading is widespread, whereas only 15% think it is rare. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many respondents think the extent of insider trading lies somewhere in the wide range between these two extremes.

Poll: In your view, what is the extent of illegal insider trading in the financial markets?
Poll: In your view, what is the extent of illegal insider trading in the financial markets?

Investors who possess material price-sensitive information that they should not act on have an unfair advantage over other investors. Inevitably, this advantage reduces investor confidence in the fairness of markets and in the ethics of market participants, thereby undermining the market mechanism. CFA Institute’s position on insider trading, as outlined in our Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, is clear: “Members and Candidates who possess material nonpublic information that could affect the value of an investment must not act or cause others to act on the information.”

Please note that the content of this site should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute.


About the Author(s)
Usman Hayat, CFA

Usman Hayat, CFA, writes about sustainable, responsible, and impact investing and Islamic finance. He is the lead author of "Environmental, Social, and Governance Issues in Investing: A Guide for Investment Professionals;" the literature review, "Islamic Finance: Ethics, Concepts, Practice;" and the research report "Sustainable, Responsible, and Impact Investing and Islamic Finance: Similarities and Differences." He is interested in online learning and has directed three e-courses for CFA Institute: "ESG-100," "Islamic Finance Quiz," and "Residual Income Equity Valuation." The other topics he writes about are macroeconomics and behavioral finance. He has experience working in securities regulation and as an independent consultant. His qualifications include the CFA charter, the FRM designation, an MBA, and an MA in development economics. He has served as a content director at CFA Institute. He is a former executive director at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and former CEO of the Audit Oversight Board (Pakistan). His personal interests include reading and hiking.

6 thoughts on “Poll: What Is the Extent of Illegal Insider Trading in the Financial Markets?”

  1. Nroop Bhavsar says:

    I guess it is a part of a vicious cycle. And this does not mean I favor some/rare insider trading. It must not happen at all to preserve the integrity of financial markets which drive the globe in all ways.

    When economy is booming, everyone tries make more money to save their jobs and their company position. No one bothers to investigate why he or she or they are making insane amount of money. But when everything cools down and if that cooling down turns in to a recession or freezing of liquidity, authorities wonder why these have happened. And they start investigation, they find culprits. All get warned. Temporary freeze in insider trading. And again, when economy picks up, competition to make money and to chase big traders/ banks begins.

  2. LB says:

    The pursuit of profits reach a level so high that for people with a weak ethic sense those situations represents profit’s opportunity

  3. Thank you for the feedback Nroop Bhavsar. You make an interesting link about level of activity in financial markets, money being made, and the scale of insider trading.

  4. Thank you for the comment LB. Yes, profit at any cost tends to mean profit for myself and cost for others.

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