Banking culture promotes greed

Guest post by Farhan Ul Haq Subhani

Banking is mired by scandals everyday. What is about it that is so wrong?

Recently, a group of researchers at the University of Zurich tested the hypothesis that bankers are more likely to lie and cheat for financial gain.

First, 200 employees of various banks were tested. Then a control group of non-bankers was tested according to the below-mentioned hypothesis.

“People were then asked to toss a coin 10 times, unobserved, and report the results. For each toss they knew whether heads or tails would yield a $20 reward. They were told they could keep their winnings if they were more than or equal to those of a randomly selected subject from a pilot study. Given maximum winnings of $200, there was ‘a considerable incentive to cheat.’”

As for the subjects, these participants were divided into two groups. The first group got peppered with questions related to their profession before they took the coin-flip test. The second group was instead asked questions pertaining to everyday life. This was done in order to have banking on the mind of half the participants before flipping the coins.

And the results?

The proportion of subjects cheating was 26 percent.

A second experiment featuring non-bankers showed that dishonesty was a non-factor when their professional identities or thoughts pertaining to banking were salient during the test. The researchers determined that banking culture implicitly promotes greed and unethical behavior.

This suggest that the prevailing business culture in the banking industry weakens and undermines the honesty norm, implying that measures to re-establish an honest culture are very important.

This reminds us of the Quranic instructions against interest, on which all conventional banking system is based.

Surah Al-Baqarah 2:275-276

Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one whom the Satan by his touch has driven to madness. That is because they say, ‘trade is like usury’, but Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden usury.

Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, and will give increase for deeds of charity, for He does not love any ungrateful sinner.

Dr. Farhan Subhani is a medical doctor. Besides clinical activities, he is active for the drug development to make preventable few common neurological disorders especially Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis and major cardiovascular disorders.

Also by Dr. Farhan Subhani: Alzheimer’s disease: Prevention is the only option

Originally published by journal, Nature. Source: bigthink

  • Nasir Zuberi

    Excellent write. I pray & wish that our brothers in Banking read, understand, apologize to Allah & Nabi (saww) and make genuine efforts to strengthen Islamic Banking system. Ameen