Financial experts must provide services in a professionally ethical manner. This is a widely recognized obligation of any profession. Professional ethics for the financial expert are derived from an instinct to do the right thing. They are an internal compass pointing to the true north of ethical behavior. The tenets of professional ethics can be reinforced with training and consultation with other professionals; however, a gut check must alert the financial expert when ethical situations are in play. This concept is demonstrated by the following comment made to staff by a managing partner of a law firm at an annual meeting: We don’t have a lot of rules around here because we hire people that don’t need them.
A large number of financial experts belong to professional organizations that bind them to conform to specified ethical requirements. Obviously, proscribed ethical mandates must be understood and followed when applicable. More broadly, the financial expert should know how to recognize and handle ethical issues related to conflicts of interest, objectivity, confidentiality, integrity, fees, and discovery. In addition to these issues, the financial expert in the role of an expert witness should be aware of ethical situations that may arise in the preparation for, or during, trial.