Gary Rubin

Research title: Qualitatively exploring institutional logics within a financial advisory firm: implications for advisor ethics

Research Summary

Ethical Implications of Incentive Plans on Investment Adviser Behavior; Solving for Morally Grounded Plans that Support Business Growth

Getting good quality advice when investing is essential. People rely on that advice to ensure they have enough money to live on when they retire, send their children to college or accomplish some other financial goal. My hypothesis is; whatever the goal, not everyone gets good advice. Hence, investors can end up facing financial difficulties as a result. And while there are numerous factors which determine the quality of advice, the means by which advisers are compensated is thought to be key.
My research questions are: 1) As a matter of fact; are financial advisers incentivized by their compensation plans to act contrary to the best interests of investors? 2) If the forgoing is true, how can compensation plans be restructured to avoid financial advisers acting contrary to the best interests of investors while supporting business growth?
The aim of this research is to 1) Show that compensation plans are causing financial advisors to give advice which is not in clients’ best interests and 2) Determine what kind of compensation plans would not have this effect. I will argue, based on empirical evidence, that it follows that acting as a fiduciary requires use of morally grounded compensation arrangements and that use of adviser compensation plans which are morally grounded and which hold the potential to drive strong profits for advisers need not be mutually exclusive.


Rubin, G. D. (2014). Does the Fact the Financial Services Sector is Heavily Regulated Leave any Place for Ethics? Institute for Business Ethics.
(This essay won first place in the national contest sponsored by the Institute for Business Ethics.)

Rubin, G. D. (2015). Advisers and the Fiduciary Duty Debate. Business and Society Review, 120(4), 519548. doi: 10.1111/basr.12073


Association for Practical and Professional Ethics:
Annual International Conference, 2016, Washington, D.C.
Annual International Conference, 2017, Dallas, Texas
Annual International Conference, 2018, Chicago, Illinois