/  Ethics

Professor: Nathalie Columelli, Financial Training et Maître de conférences associé à l’Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas.

Presentation: Excerpt from the Standard of Practice Handbook, CFA Institute, 11th edition

The first decade of the 21st century has experienced many crises for the investment industry. This period has encompassed many instances of unethical behavior by business executives and investment professionals, through Ponzi schemes, insider trading, weak governance, diligence and fraud. Unethical behavior has been highlighted in fields such as investment ratings, financial product packaging and distribution and investment management firms. As markets function to an important extent on trust, each case has resulted in heavy financial losses and stained reputations and lost investors trust.

The CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct’s goal is to set the highest standards for education, integrity, and professional excellence for the ultimate benefit of society. Such standards are critical to maintaining and recovering public’s trust in financial markets and in the investment profession.

Reference frame and scope: Capital Markets, Financial analysis departments, and Asset management.

Key concepts: law, codes and regulation, professionalism, diligence, fiduciary duties, respect, suitability, fair representation, transparency, conflicts of interest, disclosures, transparency.

Learning objectives: This course objective is to increase the students’ awareness of the importance of ethics.

They will learn, from their own experience, the recent scandals and their short and long term impacts:

  • Why it matters to act ethically;
  • How and why both the very nature of finance added to common irrational human biases may impair one’s capacity to act ethically;
  • The major rules and laws that have been enacted to protect consumers and shareholders;
  • How to increase the odds for sound ethical decision making.

Through the analysis of the CFA Institute code of ethics and Standards of Practice Handbook as well as movies and short case studies, the students will:

  • Have an overall knowledge of the CFA Institute code of ethics;
  • Identify the best standards of professionalism and integrity;
  • Identify unethical behaviors and take appropriate corrective actions;
  • Adopt and Use a framework for ethical decision-making;
  • Know approaches to embed ethics in corporate governance organization and strategic decisions.

Method and course material: Class preparation is critical to success in this course.

Slides are sent to students before the course as well as the reference book, The Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice handbook (full version and summary).

You are expected to:

  • Read the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice handbook (strongly advised for CFA candidates) or the slides before the classes;
  • Prepare a personal case distributed on class 1 and returned (Printed) on class 2;
  • Prepare practice questions distributed on Class 1 in advance of classes 2 and 3 (see below);
  • Participate in class debates, discussions & case studies;
  • Watch movies between the first and the last session (See list on the bibliography section).

Course structure: The overall duration of this seminar, split in 3 classes, is 9 hours.

Grading: A minimum mark of 10/20 on this seminar is required to validate the course.

Final score = Final exam + Personal case + Movie analysis. The maximum score is 20.

  • The Final exam rewards a maximum score of 15 points;
  • The personal case rewards 2 points to students who write a (valid) paper and return it before the beginning of the second class and 1 point if they return their personal case later;
  • The movie analysis is a compulsory work undertaken during the 3rd class and before the final exam. It rewards a maximum of 3 points;
  • Final exam: Computers are turned “OFF”. No documents are authorized except the 2-page summary of the code (downloaded on the link provided below, see Bibliography).

Please note that it is not possible to get a « make-up » for the final exam, without a very convincing reason. Also, unexcused late work will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

Bibliography and filmography:

Reference material

Press articles

  • Robert Prentice: Ethical decision making, 2007, Financial Analyst Journal
  • William Bernstein: Corporate finance and original sin, 2008, Financial Analyst Journal
  • Lori Pizzani: Blowing it, 2011, CFA magazine


  • Serpico (Sidney Lumet, 1973)
  • Wall Street I, II and money never sleeps (Oliver Stone, 1987, 1988 & 2008)
  • Crime and misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
  • The insider (Michael Mann, 1999)
  • Rogue Trader (James Dearden, 2000)
  • Erin Brokovitch (Steven Soderbergh, 2000)
  • Enron, the smartest guys in the room (Alex Gibney, 2005)
  • The constant Gardener (Fernando Meirelles, 2005)
  • Thank you for smoking (Jason Reitman, 2006)
  • The Corporation (Mark Achbar & Jennifer Abbott, 2007)
  • Frontline: the warning (Michael Kirk, 2009)
  • Let’s make money (Erwin Wagenhofer, 2009)
  • Capitalism, a love story (Michael Moore, 2009)
  • Inside job (Charles Ferguson, 2010)
  • The Flaw (David Singleton, 2010)
  • Margin Call (J.C. Chandor, 2012)
  • The wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorcese, 2013)
  • The big short (Adam McKaye, 2015)
  • L’outsider (Christophe Barratier, 2016)
  • Money Monster (Jodie Foster, 2016)

  • Nathalie COLUMELLI
    CFA, diplomée de l'ESSEC (1987). Directrice Générale de Finance Training. Maître de conférences associé à l’Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas.


Adresse :

122, rue de Vaugirard
75006 Paris

L4 L6 L12 L13 Montparnasse
L10 L13 Duroc
L4 Saint-Placide
L12 Falguière

Téléphone :
+33 (0)1 53 63 80 76

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Résultat admissibilité
11 juin 2024

Entretien d’admission
27 et 28 juin 2024

Résultats communiqués par courriel
29 juin 2024

Fin des inscriptions administratives
8 juillet 2024 (MBF1 et MBF2), 13 juillet 2024 (Master 2 TFB).

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