Ethics is not important merely because the federal securities laws are grounded on ethical principles. Good ethics is also good business. Treating customers fairly and honestly helps build a firm’s reputation and brand, while attracting the best employees and business partners.
Conversely, creating the impression that ethical behavior is not important to a firm is incredibly damaging to its reputation and business prospects. This, of course, holds true equally for individuals, and there are plenty of enforcement cases that tell the story of highly talented and successful individuals who were punished because they violated their ethical and compliance responsibilities.
-- From 'The Role of Compliance and Ethics in Risk Management' by Carlo V. di Florio (pictured above), Director, Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, speaking to the National Society of Compliance Professionals, National Meeting, October 17, 2011. Full text available here.