More than five years after a global economic calamity brought on by finance industry malfeasance and greed, the Dutch are taking a novel approach to improving banking ethics: an oath of office.
Starting in January, all banking industry employees in the Netherlands must “swear that I will do my utmost to preserve and enhance confidence in the financial-services industry” and to put the interests of both clients and society first, according to Bloomberg. Swearers can choose between concluding the vow by saying “so help me God” or with a non-religious affirmation.
The oath is coupled with a new regime of both criminal and professional punishments should they violate the industry’s legally binding code of ethics. The details of that new system of punishments and evaluations “remain unclear,” Bloomberg reports, but the idea is to replicate the sorts of self-policing professional boards that have long been standard for medical doctors.
Of course, bankers misbehave in all sorts of contexts, with enabling tax evasion in other countries being only one context. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.