Ethical Decision-MakingFor investment professionals

Identify. Consider. Act. Reflect.

These steps form the foundation of the ethical decision-making framework we developed to guide investment professionals as they resolve ethical dilemmas in the best interests of their clients.

Using case studies to illustrate real-world ethical situations, we've designed the online ethics course and live webinars to help you apply this framework with confidence.

How to Apply the Ethical Decision-Making Framework

Game-based Course

Ethical Decision-Making for Investment Professionals: This self-paced, online course presents the ethical decision-making framework and uses multi-media case studies to show you how to apply the framework in the real world. Your score is the number of "clients earned" as a result of the decisions you make.
CE credits: 1.5 (SER credits 1.5)
Length: 90 minutes
Available 24/7
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Interactive Webinars with CFA Institute Staff

Introduction to Ethical Decision Making: This webinar introduces the ethical decision-making framework and how to apply it.
CE credit: 1 (SER credit: 1)
Length: 60 minutes
Date/time: 12:00–1:00 p.m. ET, 14 March 2018

Exploring Additional Case Studies: This webinar builds on the introductory webinar, using additional case studies to practice applying the framework.
CE credit: 1 (SER credit: 1)
Length: 60 minutes
12:00–1:00 p.m. ET, 11 April 2018

About the Ethical Decision-Making Framework

We developed this Identify-Consider-Act-Reflect framework for ethical decision making to help investment professionals like you analyze and evaluate ethical scenarios where there is not a clear "right" and "wrong" path.

This framework is not a linear checklist, but a summary of the key elements of making ethical decisions. Although you will likely encounter unique influences, conflicts, and actions beyond those detailed below, this framework can help you make ethical decisions in common day-to-day situations.


  • Ethical principles: Which fundamental investment professional principles (fair dealing, full disclosure, loyalty, diligence, etc.) are at issue?
  • Duties to others: To whom do you owe a duty? Your client, employer, colleagues, others? Some duties, such as protecting the integrity of the capital markets, may be more important than others.
  • Important facts: What facts do you know and what additional information do you need to make an informed decision?
  • Conflicts of interest: Are there any encumbrances, relationships, or incentives influencing your actions?


  • Situational Influences: Are outside pressures (such as conforming to the group or obeying authority) or internal biases (such as overconfidence) affecting your decision?
  • Alternative Actions: Have you brainstormed multiple solutions and avoided a particular preconceived path?
  • Additional Guidance: Have you sought the independent, objective assessment of other people to gain additional perspective?


  • Make a decision: The specific action required depends on the individual aspects of the situation. Your decision may require multiple actions or steps, or none at all.
  • Elevate the issue to a higher authority: Alternatively, the best course of action may be to elevate your concerns to a more appropriate person. You may need to follow up with the other person to ensure appropriate action was taken.


  • What did you learn?: After you take action, review the path you chose. The lessons you learn will help you reach ethical decisions more quickly in the future.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses: Regardless of the consequences your decisions and actions bring, understanding your strengths and weaknesses will help you make ethical decisions in the future.

Questions? Please contact