Image credit: Flickr/RJ Katthöfer

So what would a bankers' oath look like?

A think tank has called for all bankers to take a Hippocratic-style oath before they start their jobs. We've come up with our own suggestion: a sort of Plutocratic oath, if you will...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 29 Jul 2014

Think tank ResPublica has called for bankers to be forced to take their own version of the Hippocratic Oath, to ensure they 'fulfill their proper moral and economic purpose'. According to the group's director, Philip Blond, 'as countless scandals demonstrate, virtue is distinctly absent from our banking institutions. Britain's bankers lack a sense of ethos and the institutions they work for lack a clearly defined social purpose'.

The think tank suggests an oath, which includes lines like 'I will do my utmost to behave in a manner that prioritises the needs of customers' and 'it is my first duty to provide an exemplary quality of service'.

Yawn. MT's had a go at its own version - a Plutocratic oath, if you will (with apologies to Hippocrates...).

I swear by Mark Carney, the maker of financial rules, Osborne, Cable, and Draghi, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:

To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him, and if necessary, not to completely take him for a ride; To look upon his children as potential interns, to teach them this art; and that by my teaching, I will impart a knowledge of this art to my own sons, and to my boss’s sons, and to interns bound by an indenture and oath according to the ECB’s laws, and no others.

I will prescribe regimens, (mostly) for the good of my clients, according to my ability and my judgment and try really hard never to do harm to anyone’s finances (and if I do, I’ll make sure I hush it up with some clever maths).

I will give no deadly financial advice to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and similarly I will not give a woman (or a man) a mortgage with an unduly high loan-to-income ratio.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not try to manipulate rates, even when others are begging me to; I will leave this operation to be performed by central banks, specialists in this art.

In every IPO I am involved in I will think only of the good of my employer’s reputation, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and from the pleasures of promising unnecessarily high share prices, especially if I’m advising the government on a privatisation.

All the emails that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep quiet and will never reveal, especially not to the Treasury Select Committee.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all humanity and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may I be subjected to never-ending bonus clawbacks from my employer. 

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