A recent survey of 500 senior Wall Street executives found that 25% of the financial professionals interviewed believe wrongdoing is a key to success in their field.

Of course, whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow conducted the survey, so the report's organizer has some vested interest in this subject.

Still, the survey is gaining national press, with news agencies reporting that 26% of the parties acknowledge seeing corruption first hand.

About 24% of those surveyed believe financial services professionals have to partake in unethical or illegal conduct to succeed.

In addition, 16% said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it, Labaton Sucharow reported.

While the survey is not the only one to take pot shots at the so-called unethical Wall Street crowd, it does ignore the larger question: Is Wall Street more unethical than the rest of society, or is it merely a reflection of an entire society that is losing its marbles when it comes to ethics and upstanding behavior? 

A quick Google search on ethics brings up a slew of results on fledgling ethical behavior. Much of it stems from parts of our society that are a long way from Wall Street banking.

It seems Avon, a large cosmetics company, is facing its own probe about possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Yes, it's a publicly traded company, but Avon sells lipstick instead of mortgages, so it's not exactly a banking firm, but corruption is alleged nevertheless.

The Pope even has a whistleblower, with a Vatican butler facing legal trouble for leaking Vatican documents to reveal corruption inside the church.

 The world is still wondering how academics, educators and coaches – a long way from Wall Street – turned the other cheek at Penn State.

Transparency International, a coalition against global corruption, now ranks the United States 24th in the world when it comes to running an ethical and non-corrupt government.  
The nation is outranked by Canada, Australia and 21 other modern finance countries.

So if the Labaton Sucharow study on Wall Street ethics is accurate,  we may be dealing with a financial services industry that persists on a "bad is good" philosophy.

But the takeaway may be more complex than that: In a society where ethical codes are lapsing everywhere, how does one segment take all of the blame when there's so much blame to go around?

kpanchuk@housingwire.com