May 20, 2023 - Economy

Bankers are better behaved at home than in the office

Illustration of an office chair on fire

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Bankers are better behaved when they work from home and engage in an astonishing amount of financial misconduct when they work from the office. That's the message from a new paper examining misconduct reports at a top-5 UK bank.

By the numbers: The researchers looked at misconduct reports filed on 162 traders working during lockdown, between March 2020 and March 2021.

  • The traders who worked from home had an annualized 7.3% chance of triggering a misconduct alert.
  • For the traders who worked from the office, that probability soared to an eye-popping 37.6%.

What they're saying: "Traders subject to work-from-home treatment exhibit substantially fewer securities violations and the economic significance of the treatment effect is large," write the authors.

The bottom line: The researchers put forward a few reasons why working from home might reduce misconduct, including less access to inside information and market rumors.

  • The main one is that unethical conduct seems to be contagious. Take a trader away from unethical traders, and she's less likely to behave unethically herself.
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