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March 1, 2000

Industry Watch - Back to Ethics School For Compliance Pros

By Sanford Wexler

Classroom instruction on ethics for institutional brokerage pros is now part of a line of Wall Street training sessions.

The new Ethics Program, sponsored by the Securities Industry Association, examines controversial topics such as front-running, whistle blowing, selective disclosure, political contributions and soft dollars. The duration of the program, ranging from short one-day sessions to longer periods, is determined by course selections.

But, given that pros already attend many seminars, is more classroom instruction needed?

Diana Bergherr, assistant director of compliance at Credit Lyonnais, said the SIA program stands out.

"It brings to the forefront [ethical] issues and allows the registered [pro] to reexamine the gray areas of the industry," she said. "It really gets people to participate and learn something. They walk out of the sessions talking about [ethical] issues."

At Credit Lyonnais Securities in New York, the SIA course is mandated for all registered personnel, including traders and research analysts.

Public Confidence

Amy Depoto, manager of education services at the SIA, said one of the goals of the new program is to help increase "the public's confidence in the securities industry."

Depoto said the course is similar to a program developed several years ago by the SIA for retail brokerages.

"That program was very popular," Depoto said. "Our institutional brokerage committee decided that they wanted to develop a program specifically for the institutional business. It addresses some of the gray areas in the business."

The basic admission to the new SIA program is $50 per person. The program is conducted in a classroom by in-house SIA compliance or training personnel. The program uses eight case studies based on real-life scenarios.

Students evaluate the conduct of industry professionals, answer questions on various courses of action, and discuss the ethical principles in each case study.