Beyond Codes of Ethics: Why Simply Having a Code Is Not Enough

Many businesses have codes of ethics or codes of conduct, and they come in various lengths and address varying types of ethical issues. Some companies even have codes for senior executives that are separate and apart from the code for the company’s employees in general, and some businesses maintain integrity statements or “credos.” Since 2003, the SEC has required registered investment advisers to have written codes of ethics pursuant to Rule 204A‑1 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Having a code of ethics is not sufficient, however, to create a culture of compliance or ethical behavior within an investment adviser. Rather, an adviser’s senior management must regularly communicate its code of ethics and general commitment to ethics to employees in order to embed the code and the firm’s ethical values in the fabric of all of its operations, activities and decisions. In a guest article, Dr. David E. McClean, principal of DMA Consulting Group, reviews the requirements of Rule 204A-1 and discusses the importance of effectively communicating an adviser’s code of ethics to its employees, including examples of effective ethics communicators. See “ACA 2019 Hedge Fund Survey Examines SEC Exam Experience, Codes of Ethics, Electronic Communications and Expense Allocations (Part One of Two)” (Aug. 8, 2019).

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