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How do wealth managers understand and comply with the social norms embedded in banks’ codes of conduct (CoC) and how do they cope with ethical dilemmas? Do they have a tendency post Global Financial Crisis to prioritize banks’ financial security over clients’ interests? To answer these and related questions, we conduct a non-incentivized online survey with wealth management employees of the Swiss legal entity of a large multinational bank. We propose a method to estimate the comprehension and the level of expected adherence to the CoC principles that we test with our sample. We further show that framing questions under the label “Financial Security” increased response accuracy and that employees’ honesty helped guide their decision-making towards integrity in ethical dilemmas. Thus, besides validating a method for testing the level of CoC comprehension and the expected adherence to its principles, our study is among the first to show that in the wealth management business, honesty and social injunctive norms defined in the bank’s CoC reinforce each other.

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