Views on improving the integrity of global capital markets
24 June 2015

LIBOR Lessons, Corp Market Responsibility: Cosgrove Prize Winners Foster Ethics in Finance (Video)

Though both young investment professionals were based largely in London in 2012, chances are Rafael ARP Gomes of Portugal, and Prabhay Joshi of the UK didn’t know one another. The same would not be true come 14 November 2013, the day they found themselves side by side at a ceremony in Geneva being honored with the top prize in an international competition aimed at making the finance world a better place.

A year earlier, they, along with some 400 others worldwide, had entered the Ethics in Finance-Robin Cosgrove Prize competition, for which CFA Institute is a sponsor. Participants submit their innovative thoughts to promote trust and ethical behavior in the financial sector in the form of a 5,000-word paper. After clearing a number of evaluations, Gomes’ and Joshi’s papers were declared the global edition winners of the prize, which carries with it $10,000 for each recipient.

Why Did a Distinguished Global Jury Choose Their Papers?

No doubt, the judges deemed that these two papers best reflected Robin Cosgrove’s vision for the prize: “to stimulate innovative ideas for promoting ethics and integrity in the finance sector … to strengthen the sustainability of ethics in banking and finance, and to reinforce its implementation, especially in emerging markets throughout the world.”

To share the papers’ inventive ideas and relevance in the market with a broader audience, Josina Kamerling, head of regulatory outreach for CFA Institute for the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region and based in Brussels, sat down with the authors recently to discuss their work.

Gomes, who works in risk consulting at Accenture in London, wrote his paper on Corporate Market Responsibility: Ethical Regulation for Orderly Financial Markets. It centered around three topics: the spirit of the law, risk management, and corporate market responsibility. Joshi, who works as a financial services consultant at PA Consulting Group in London, wrote his on Lessons from LIBOR: Moving Beyond Compliance to Explore the Dynamics of Ethics in Banks. It examines the LIBOR-rigging scandal, and such issues as banks’ “family” culture, loyalty, and greed.

Finance Industry Recruitment Process Is Key

Though their papers touch on important market topics, both Joshi and Gomes, along with Kamerling, agree that recruitment efforts are key to developing finance sector professionals’ practice and understanding of ethical decision-making.

How Did the Prize Come to be?

The impetus for the prize stems from a conversation between a mother and son in late July 2004. The son, a young investment banker in Tokyo and London at the time, was sharing his vision to remedy a need he saw in the industry — a foundation for young professionals that he hoped to create one day to promote better understanding of the importance of trust, ethics, and personal and corporate integrity. Just five days after this conversation, Robin Cosgrove died in an accident on Mont Blanc in the French Alps at age 31. In 2006, the Ethics in Finance-Robin Cosgrove Prize was established by Carol Cosgrove-Sacks, a former UN director, to honor her son’s memory and ideals. Since then, the prize has been hosted by the Observatoire de la Finance in Switzerland. (Watch Cosgrove-Sacks recall her and Robin’s conversation and explain the purpose of the prize.)

Why Is CFA Institute a Sponsor of the Prize?

CFA Institute is committed to shaping a trustworthy, forward-thinking financial industry that better serves society. “We need to regain the lost trust following continued scandals, which is why it is crucial to have young professionals think and debate about the ethics in finance. CFA Institute, which considers ethics a crucial part of the ongoing engagement of CFA charterholders, is keen to support the Robin Cosgrove Prize and the promotion of ethical awareness amongst the younger participants in our industry,” Kamerling said.

The competition for the 2014-15 fifth edition of the prize, now underway and supported by CFA Institute, the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants (ACCA Global), and Accenture, received more than 300 applications from 61 countries worldwide. The co-presidents of the prize jury, Cosgrove-Sacks, a public policy adviser and international economist, and Paul Dembinski, PhD, of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, assessed the entries and identified some 40 papers for evaluation by the distinguished global jury. Kamerling, who is a jurist this year, along with several other CFA Institute representatives, will attend the ceremony to announce the next prize winners, which will take place at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in Washington, DC, on 21 September. The nominated papers will be published in a special edition of the review Finance & the Common Good/Bien Commun in advance of the ceremony.

MEPs, EU Stakeholders Are Talking

The launch of the fifth edition of the Ethics in Finance-Robin Cosgrove Prize included a conference at the European Parliament in February in which Members of European Parliament (MEPs) and European Union (EU) stakeholders discussed “Ethics in Finance.” Organized by CFA Institute and ACCA, and hosted by MEPs Othmar Karas and Kay Swinburne, the conference’s main conclusions call for a shift in culture to bring integrity, morality, ethical behavior, and trust back to the financial world.

More on the prize is here.

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About the Author(s)
Rebecca Arrington

Rebecca Arrington is a communications specialist at CFA Institute.

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