An Analysis of The State of Stakeholder Trust in the Financial Services Industry

By: Caterina Bulgarella, PhD

Released April 2021

Despite a commitment to ethical standards of behavior within financial services, research consistently shows the public is still leery of trusting those in the industry. The American College Maguire Center for Ethics has launched a multi-part research initiative to address this challenge. The Center conducted interviews with a number of senior executives in the industry – the results of that research are published in this white paper, An Analysis of the State of Trust in the Financial Industry.

AI, Ethics and Life Insurance: Balancing Innovation With Access

By: Azish Filabi, JD, MA, and Sophia Duffy, JD, CPA

Released March 2021

Rapidly-advancing technology brings with it new challenges, and the financial services industry increasingly finds itself at a crossroads where integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and other innovations meets ethical and anti-discrimination concerns. In May 2021, the Center convened a participatory workshop on AI ethics in financial services, including a panel of experts to address how financial services—and the life insurance industry in particular—can leverage AI technologies. Topics and research discussed during the workshop are included in this white paper, AI, Ethics and Life Insurance: Balancing Innovation With Access, covering the revolution of big data and accelerated underwriting in the life insurance industry.


WEBCAST – Women in Financial Services: Opportunities to Support Growth and Leadership

Hosted By: Azish Filabi, JD, and Hilary Fiorella

December 2020

In the modern world, women continue to make steady gains in both recognition and representation; however, that progress is still met by barriers, especially in the financial services industry. In this panel discussion, Azish Filabi, JD, Executive Director of The American College of Financial Services’ Maguire Center for Ethics, Hilary Fiorella, Executive Director of The American College’s State Farm® Center for Women in Financial Services, and State Farm Senior Vice President Denise Hardin explore the important role women play in financial services, the growing role of the female investor, and the importance of building workplace cultures that promote their advancement. Watch now.


Women in Insurance Sales: Challenges and Opportunities

Released December 2020

In Spring 2016 the Maguire Center for Ethics collaborated with The American College State Farm Center for Women in Financial Services to conduct research to better understand the experience of women working in the financial services. This preliminary study was designed to address the following overarching question: How does gender influence individual experiences and perceptions of the equality of opportunity between men and women in the financial services industry? The study included a survey completed by 1,135 industry professionals at six different companies, along with in-depth interviews with 71 survey respondents who volunteered to participate. The results from this preliminary study suggest that women in the financial services industry have a fundamentally different experience than men, and that this experience informs a substantially less optimistic view of the opportunity structures for women in the industry.


Ethical Issues in Retirement Income Planning: An Advisor's Perspective

By: Jamie Hopkins, Julie Ragatz, and Chuck Galli

March 2016

What systems, structures, and practices might lead to unethical behavior in retirement income planning? Do retirement income planners worry that these unethical practices are harming clients? We surveyed hundreds of retirement income professionals and conducted 31 follow-up, in-depth interviews to answer these questions. Our quantitative survey results show that most retirement income professionals cite lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of the agent as the primary cause of unethical behavior in their industry. Our respondents see education, not an intensified drive to identify malevolent fraud, as the best ameliorant to unethical situations in retirement income planning. We are still analyzing our qualitative data using advanced coding techniques with NVIVO analytic software. However, initial results indicate that retirement income professionals believe that credentialization – specifically the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation – provides the type of education needed to ebb unethical behavior in their field. Additionally, respondents say that the retirement income industry (and financial services industry at-large) suffers disproportionately from the few, rare “bad apples” who draw outrage and media attention for their particularly grievous trespasses. We believe that this project will enrich the literature on ethical behavior in retirement income planning and financial services in general. As retirement income planning becomes a more salient topic for an increasing number of Americans, understanding how ethicality can be reinforced will become essential to the economic prosperity of millions of people.