It seems as if nothing is sacred anymore. Associated Press reports “the main Franciscan religious order in the Roman Catholic Church is in a financial crisis because of alleged wrongdoing from within and outside its ranks.”
Apparently, the 800-year-old order had invested tens of millions of euros in suspect firms currently under investigation in Switzerland for “dodgy practices.”
Sure, the overwhelming majority of advisors and agents wouldn’t risk hellfire damnation to stoop so low as to rip off priests and the charges they serve—at least not initially.
But Illinois-based agent Brent Kelly poses a simple question about ethics that elicits interesting reactions. While ethical issues involving centuries-old religious and charitable organizations are easy to avoid, and while many individuals consider themselves ethical, are you always ethical?
Did you pause?
“As much as you may think you are, I guarantee you are not,” Kelly said. “I don’t mean you are unethical in terms of a serious offense like fraud or embezzlement, but in small actions that could lead to greater consequences.” 
We’d agree, and wonder if, like supposed “gateway drugs,” small ethical transgressions eventually lead to larger moral failures. It’s a question that’s been around since ancient philosophers in white robes and sandals first pondered the thought. It’s the reason Kelly believes that ethics can be taught, if for no other reason than to illustrate seemingly inconsequential actions that could quickly grow to devastate firms who believe they have the most ethical of business philosophies and practices in place. This is especially true in today’s hyper-regulated, fast-paced and increasingly complicated advisor and agent business environment.