For whatever reason, people and corporations continue not to “do the right thing.” The allegations against Enron, WorldCom, Adelphi, and other corporations have shaken the very foundation of our financial institutions, eroded investor confidence, and caused citizens to feel a loss of trust in the free enterprise system. Thousands of people have lost their jobs, and millions have seen their retirement programs shrink.
There isn't a professional organization, corporation, or government agency that doesn't have a written code of conduct or ethics for their members or employees. But the temptation to take the easy route to accomplish goals and objectives is always present. Each person or corporation must decide if what they are doing is right and then be prepared to accept the consequences of their actions. The question we must ask ourselves when placed in difficult situations is: Does accepting this risk on behalf of myself, my family, my client, and/or my employer make sense?
The insurance industry has always emphasized the need for high ethical standards. Dr. Solomon S. Huebner founded the American College, the country's oldest and largest academically accredited educational institution devoted to financial services, in 1927. He seldom spoke of education without also stressing that the professional relationship between agent and client had to be based on sound ethical principles. In 1984, the American College formally adopted a Code of Ethics.
Recently, a number of financial services companies have contacted me about speaking to their employees and sales associates on ethical behavior. Here are 10 ideas that I include in my presentation, adapted from my book The Power of Optimism:
Honesty is the best policy.
The easy way can be the wrong way.
Does what you are doing make sense?
If what you do is questionable, are you prepared to accept the consequences?
Are you conducting your business in a way in which you would not be ashamed?
If you don't have something good to say about someone, don't say anything at all.
Are you honestly and accurately presenting all the facts to your prospect and client?
Are you providing the same service to someone else that you would give yourself?
Are you fulfilling the needs of your employees and customers to the best of your ability?
If your actions were published in the local press tomorrow, would you be able to say you did the right thing?
The bottom line is that we in the insurance industry have an obligation to maintain high ethical standards in order to ensure the financial stability of our clients, our companies, and our country. This also helps protect the integrity of the products and services we offer.
Andy Dzurinko, CLU, has been with American United Life Insurance for more than 20 years and is the author of The Power of Optimism. Go to www.thepowerofoptimism.com for more information.