Ethics Case Study of the Week: That Investment Manager No Longer Works Here

By Gary Sarkissian posted 03-15-2021 09:00


CFA Institute’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct codify the ethical guidelines for the investment profession that are critical to maintaining the integrity of capital markets and investor trust.  Members, candidates, and even firms make a commitment to uphold these standards as they help elevate ethical decision-making universally around the globe.  

As investment professionals, we are certain to face important ethical decisions in our day-to-day activities.  Some scenarios we encounter will be straightforward, while others may be more complex.  No matter what circumstances we face, continuous learning remains imperative in an investment industry that continues to e volve with products undergoing innovation and a regulatory environment continuing to adapt. 

For that reason, each week we will feature a sample case from CFA Institute’s Ethics in Practice Casebook.  Each case is built upon a real-life example that may involve a regulatory matter or even a CFA Institute Professional Conduct investigation.  At the end of the case is a multiple-choice question that addresses the ethical nature of the actions taken in that case.  

This week’s case involves Standard I(C) Misrepresentation. 

That Investment Manager No Longer Works Here
Andersen is the President and CEO of an asset management firm. Andersen and other senior investment managers of his firm make an in-person pitch to manage the investments of a large pension plan. In response to a request from the pension plan, Andersen lists the key personnel that would be involved in offering these services. But while awaiting for the outcome of the evaluation, one of the key personnel that Andersen identified and who was part of making the in-person presentation to the plan leaves the firm. Andersen should

A.  hire a competent replacement for the person who left and then inform the pension plan of the change.
B.  wait to determine whether the firm wins the business of the pension plan before informing them of the change in staff.
C.  immediately inform the pension plan that one of the key personnel has left the firm.
D.  do nothing because the pension plan is hiring the asset management firm not an individual.

What do you think is the correct choice?  Click the “Analysis” button below to see the analysis for this case, and feel free to discuss in the comments below.  The completion of this case qualifies for 0.25 hour of Standards, Ethics, and Regulation (SER) credit

This case relates to CFA Institute Standard I(C): Misrepresentation, which prohibits any knowing misrepresentation relating to professional activities. In this situation, after making the pitch for the investment management business of the pension fund, there is turnover in Andersen’s investment management staff. Andersen has identified the person leaving as a key employee and as a member of the team that made the initial presentation to the pension plan. From Andersen’s perspective, he surely has confidence in the abilities of the firm as a whole and will likely replace the person leaving with a competent professional with similar experience and talents so that there is a seamless transition in services to clients.

Nevertheless, the pension plan is clearly concerned about the particular personnel involved in managing its assets because they asked for that information, which makes C the best response. If this was a junior employee, a staff member who had limited effect on the investment decision-making process, or someone who was not listed as a key employee or who was not part of the team making the presentation, then Andersen may not have to provide an update to the pension plan. But given the circumstances outlined in the case, Anderson must tell the pension plan about the departure of a key staff member to avoid a misrepresentation. Waiting until the replacement is found or until the pension plan makes a hiring decision is too late.

This case was submitted to CFA Institute by an “Ethics in Practice” participant.

Image by Willi Heidelbach from Pixabay  

© 2019 CFA Institute. All rights reserved. You may copy and distribute this content, without modification and for non-commercial purposes, provided you attribute the content to CFA Institute and retain this copyright notice.  This case was written as a basis for discussion and is not prescriptive of how a business situation or professional conduct matter should or should not be handled or addressed. Certain characters mentioned are fictional to facilitate discussion, and any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental.