Educating Financial Services Professionals on Ethical Decision-Making Skills

I understand the challenge of finding just the right speaker to talk about business ethics. In my prior roles as a certified public accountant with KPMG Peat Marwick and as a commercial real estate broker with Marcus & Millichap, I was given all sorts of training in industry-specific ethics.

However, that training was hardly applicable when I became the vice-president of finance for a real estate development company that became mired in complex allegations of bank fraud.  In hindsight, my personal involvement could have been avoided if I saw the right warning signs and truly understood the risk of doing nothing.

Hardly a day goes by without some new allegations of bad behavior (or worse) by companies and/or their officers.  Even the allegation, much less the truth, of unethical or criminal behavior may result in millions of dollars in legal fees, loss public confidence in the business and, potentially, criminal liability.  Certain industries are under great pressure to mitigate their exposure by providing ethics training to its employees.

I realize that the success of an event discussing business ethics comes down to the quality of the speaker and their connection with the audience. If the speaker can engage the audience, maintain the audience’s attention in an entertaining way and provide valuable lessons, the audience will take away extraordinary insights that can be drawn on in the future. If the speaker didn’t, well …  a not-so-great event.

I speak for corporations, associations and nonprofits that are looking to provide ethics awareness and training to its employees and members.  My ethics presentation can be tailored to the client’s needs in either a keynote address or workshop.

For Event Planners

What the Audience Should Expect

Who really knows more about the consequences crossing the lines from ethical behavior, to unethical to criminal than someone who has been there?  I tell my story, and the stories of others, as real-life examples of the pitfalls and consequences of working in an unethical corporate culture.

Audiences will learn:

  • What leaders should do to build an ethical organization.  After all, ethics starts with leadership – at the highest levels and filters down the organization.  Those around you act as the leader does, not says!
  • What is “Magical” or “Stinking Thinking” and how to avoid it.
  • What is the role of ego in our ethical decision-making.
  • Identify and beware of personality traits  and outside pressures that you should look out for in yourself and in others.
  • What role does the workplace play in enhancing or inhibiting unethical behavior.
  • Moral compasses – whose should you rely on and the importance of third-party validation of ethical decisions.
  • What are the consequences of unethical or criminal behavior.
  • Why do people underestimate the consequences of their action.

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‘Kevin Foster’s presentation on Business Ethics and Compliance is the most original and effective I have seen my career as a general counsel and law firm partner. Kevin succinctly captures how and why business executives fall into ethical traps. Understanding such traps is essential to avoiding serious ethical and legal issues, and Kevin’s presentation should be part of every ethics/compliance program.’ Charles R. Morgan CEO, The Morgan Group

My Speaking Topics

 “Limit Your Legal Risk: Six Red Flags to Identify Bad Ethical Behavior”

Doing things that are in gray areas just to survive, or to salvage what has been built, often resorts to “Magical Thinking”. Many believe when in complex, even dire circumstances, that the end of their financial woes is simply “just one deal away.” That is exactly the place (as I personally know) where drastic compromises seem to be an acceptable risk vs. reward. But they are not. I discuss how to identify the six warning signs that lead to unethical or illegal behavior in yourself and others.  Presented as the “Scared Straight” keynote to financial services professionals, this is a must-hear of my experience of crossing the line into the dark side.

“From Adversity to Authenticity”

What happens if things aren’t going according to your plan? Many of us who have ever hoped or planned for something big in their life may find those hopes and plans in the past tense. Isn’t this part of the human experience? Life is not about avoiding suffering, life is about finding purpose in spite of, or through, suffering. In this inspirational keynote, I tell my story of a high-powered real estate executive in the middle of a major criminal case that leads to a 37-month prison term. My physical incarceration is a metaphor for all those who find themselves imprisoned by circumstances in their personal and business lives. Learn how life conspires for you and not against you. And, learn how to prepare when your hopes and plans are now in the past.  This keynote is the perfect inspirational speech to kick-off or end a conference.

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Slippery Slope of Bad Ethical Decisions Video

Most companies and organizations take an overly-legalistic approach to ethics and compliance training focusing on law, rules, codes, etc. I believe that ethics training and discussions must be brought down to the personal level. In this animated video, I discuss the slippery slope of making bad ethical decisions. My speeches and workshops are focused on identifying the warning signs of unethical or illegal behavior in yourself and others.



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A Little Bit About Me

My career began in accounting and finance, and then I moved on to real estate in 1987. Some of my early employers included Peat, Marwick & Mitchell (now KPMG Peat Marwick), Dr Pepper, FDIC/Division of Liquidation, Standard Chartered Bank and Marcus & Millichap. I joined a newly-formed real estate venture known as Peerless Real Estate Services, Inc as its Executive Vice President/Finance in 2004. I was with Peerless until the collapse of the company in May 2007.

Raised in the Detroit area, I am the oldest of nine children in a very tight-knit family. I am a summa cum laude graduate of Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama with a double major in accounting and history.

Christine and I were married in July 2002 and are hopelessly devoted to each other.  We reside in Atlanta with Watson and Cleo, our beloved Portuguese Water Dog and Toy Poodle. Christine and I were trained in our church’s Stephen Ministry program where we help others through difficult life transitions.

The Next Step

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