“I just can’t do this job anymore.”

I just can’t do this job anymore. Samantha expressed her ethical dilemma. She was working in a financial services firm in Fairfield County, Connecticut. She had started her job with the hope that she would help families plan a secure future. Having watched her parents suffer tremendously due to poor financial planning, Samantha felt that she had a mission to help others.

While in her early 20s, Samantha had a few different business analyst jobs but she did not know a great deal about the financial industry. Certainly, she heard generalities about the lack of ethics endemic in Wall Street type jobs. However, she thought, if she  was a financial planner, she would do the job differently. She would always put her clients first. She was delighted when a financial services firm gave her the opportunity for an entry-level position. 

During her first three years at the job, Samantha immersed herself in learning about financial products and assisting financial salespeople in her company. Most all of them were engaging and fun people. They also treated her well.

As Samantha became more educated about the industry, she began to discover that her firm – while never breaking the law – was not really about serving the clients first. Salespeople had to ensure that the products sold to investors provided the highest possible fees to the firm. They would tell clients that the financial instruments that they were pushing provided the greatest returns and some of the financial salespeople may even have believed this to be true. But, it wasn’t. They were selling the products that gave the firm the highest profits.

Years ago, one of my friends who is a plaintiff’s attorney found the reptilian part of his brain rooting for more extensive injuries to one of his clients because it would lead to greater damages and, of course, more money to him. That was his moment when he realized he could not continue in his line of work.

If you’re an ethical person, do whatever you can to investigate your industry. Ensure. That you can sleep at night with what you do for work.