Rarely does the public use “ethics” and “politicians” positively in a sentence. When a well-known, but now retired, politician makes the news for a salacious bribery/payoff scandal, no one is surprised. Once a politician, always a politician.
But it is not just politicians. Police officers, teachers, clergy and yes, even journalists, are part of a long list of professions that have experienced black eyes recently.
The financial services profession has its own history and is still smarting from a series of recognizable, one-name scandals: Milken. Madoff. Stanford. Lehman. Even Enron. The average advisor’s business is far removed from these incidents and yet longtime clients’ had flashes of concern. Though the dust is somewhat settled, when (not if) will the next one hit?
The reality is a person, or event, or more likely, a series of events, can dramatically affect how the public regards – positively or negatively –a profession overall.
Gallup polls show interesting trends by regularly surveying the public on their view of individuals in different professions. The most telling category is how many of those polled see those in a particular profession as having Very High/High ethical standards and honesty.
For comparison’s sake, members of Congress do not score well in Gallup’s rankings. They are wallowing in the 7-8% range for this category. Their top rating by far since 1976 was 25%, which they achieved just after September 11th, a telling sign as America was at its most united.