Lessons from the financial crisis?

1.  A self-regulated profession (banking, finance) that focuses intently on self and ignores regulation can cause enormous harm to clients and non-clients as well as to itself.

2.  The assumption that responsible, sensible people are in charge of “the system” may be tragically unfounded.  Who is responsible for “the system?”  What are their names?  Where do they work?  What are they doing?  Is there anyone to talk to?  Is anyone listening?  In every system there must be people who bear responsibility.  It is important to know who they are.

3.  There can be great danger in “going with the flow.”  The flow may be headed over the cliff.  It is important to step back, try to see things in perspective and think for oneself.

4.  People and firms that focus exclusively on making money for themselves, will find it difficult (or indeed may not care) to play a responsible role on behalf of the profession.

5.  If none or not enough of the leaders in a profession act in a responsible way in support of the profession, if they focus all of their time, talent and energy on the profitability of their own firms, the profession may implode.

6.  Whether or not people and firms and government acknowledge it, collective responsibility exists and it matters.  Failure of members of a profession to contribute to the exercise of collective responsibility creates a substantial risk of harm to both the profession and to the markets that sustain it.

7.  Total, highly profitable selfishness sucks and may lead to self destruction.

8. The “it’s not my problem” or “it’s not my department” view of the world provides no immunity.

9. Every member of a profession has something – however small – to contribute to the exercise of collective responsibility on behalf of a profession.

10.  Assuming that “nothing can be done” is self fulfilling.