ARC Final Report – Professionalism Grant LP 140100219 – Summary

Project title: 

Professions, Professional Standards and Capital Markets in the 21st Century: Regulatory Engagement, Design and Strategies

Initial objectives

This Project had three primary aims. The first was to advance academic knowledge of professional obligation within capital markets, and understand the conditions in which professions can give warranted trust in their commitment to professional standards. The second was to develop practical strategies and mechanisms to advance professional standards within established professions of law and audit and those which aspire to that status, such as financial advisers and broker/dealers. The third was to benefit the project partners by creating enduring artifacts to assist in the maintenance and advancement of professions and likewise of those groups which seek to become professionalised especially in the financial sector.



Project role


Prof Dimity Kingsford Smith

Chief Investigator

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Dr George Gilligan

Chief Investigator

University of New South Wales (UNSW), University of Melbourne (UMelb)

Prof Charles Sampford

Chief Investigator

Griffith University

Prof Thomas Clarke

Chief Investigator

University of Technology (UTS)

Dr Justine Rogers

Chief Investigator

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Prof Justin O’Brien

Partner Investigator

Monash University

Dr Deen Sanders

Partner Investigator

Professional Standards Councils, Professional Standards Authority

Mr Andrew Lumsden

Partner Investigator

Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Mr John Morgan

Partner Investigator


Project outcomes

Responding to the post-GFC call for professionalism in the finance sector, this Project has contributed to existing research a more positive but realistic assessment of professions in the modern world, and how professional logic can contribute to business and finance. The Project has identified challenges that professions face, along with the value of professional norms. These norms or elements of professionalism may be applied without full professional logic. The project has also developed strategies for professional support in for-profit organisations, how associations might renew their relevance and how professionals can better manage customers and risk.

These ways to introduce elements of professional logic to large for-profit organisations, such as banks, provide the seed corn for normative and cultural change in large commercial organisations.

Several new research directions have been identified by this Project. The first is the interaction between professional self-regulation and government regulation, and the role of professional associations. The second is the preservation of ethics and a service ethos of professions in the digital age. The third is the application of professional obligations internationally.

Research outputs

Journal publications

Breakey, Hugh, ‘Building Ethics Regimes: Capabilities, Obstacles and Supports for Professional Ethical Decision-Making’ (2017) 40(1) University of New South Wales Law Journal 322

Breakey, Hugh, ‘Supply and Demand in the Development of Professional Ethics’ (2016) 15 Contemporary Issues in Applied and Professional Ethics (Research in Ethical Issues in Organizations) 1

Breakey, Hugh, and Charles Sampford, ‘Employed Professionals’ Ethical Responsibilities in Public Service and Private Enterprise: Dilemma, Priority and Synthesis’ (2017) 40(1) University of New South Wales Law Journal 262

Breakey, Hugh, and Charles Sampford, ‘National Exams as a Tool for Improving Standards: Can Australian Financial Advisers Take a Lead from the Professionals’ Book?’ (2017) 40(1) University of New South Wales Law Journal 385

Graham Greenleaf, ‘Review Essay: Technology and the Professions: Utopian and Dystopian Futures’ (2017) 40(1) University of New South Wales 302

Hartstein, Deborah, and Justine Rogers, ‘Professional Associations As Regulators: An Interview Study of the Law Society of New South Wales’ (2019) 22(1–2) Legal Ethics 49

Kingsford Smith, Dimity, Thomas Clarke and Justine Rogers, ‘Banking and the Limits of Professionalism’ (2017) 40(1) University of New South Wales Law Journal 411

Morgan, John K, and Pamela Hanrahan, ‘Professional Indemnity Insurance: Protecting Clients and Regulating Professionals’ (2017) 40(1) University of New South Wales Law Journal 353

O’Brien, Justin, George Gilligan, Alex Roberts and Roger McCormick, ‘Professional Standards and the Social Licence to Operate: A Panacea for Finance or an Exercise in Symbolism?’ (2015) 9(4) Law and Financial Markets Review 283

Rogers, Justine, and Deborah Hartstein, ‘You, Us and Them: The Multiple Projects of the New South Wales Law Society’ (2019) 45(3) Monash University Law Review 716

Rogers, Justine, Dimity Kingsford Smith and John Chellew, ‘The Large Professional Service Firm: A New Force in the Regulation Bargain’ (2017) 40(1) University of New South Wales Law Journal 218


Lewis, Melea, ARC Professionalism Project Mapping Professional Regimes Internationally (Report, 2018)

Rogers, Justine, and Deborah Hartstein, The Value of Contemporary Professional Associations (Report, 2019) 

Practical Resources for Professionals

Research benefits

This Project has generated greater knowledge of the challenges of modern conditions to professions and aspirants and how to address them. It developed practical responses to advance professional standards and strategies for those who aspire to professional status.

The investigators published their research in peer-reviewed academic journals, as reports and through an online Research Library of Professionalism with over 50 subject areas. The investigators also held workshops to disseminate the findings. The reports and online Research Library, in particular, were intended to make the research available to professions generally and to financial sector potential professionals particularly.

The research has produced or is likely to produce economic, social and cultural benefits along with increased research capacity. In particular, the Project has produced or is likely to lead to human capital build up, increased productivity, enhanced skills and new partnerships. These benefits are or will be experienced by the academy, the general public, partner organisations, community organisations, and professional and industry associations.

Follow-on collaborations

The nature and extent of the collaborative arrangements with the Project’s partner organisations, the Professional Standards Councils, Allens and Corrs Chambers Westgarth centred on collaboration on the actual research. This ranged from identification of research questions, planning of empirical research, introductions to subjects of research, joint book-work research and writing and collaborative research presentations. Frequent engagement with partner organisations through meetings, roundtables and conferences facilitated discussions to understand end-user needs and expectations.

The collaborative arrangements have produced cooperative links between the higher education sector, industry and public sector users of research. For example, investigators have continued collaborating with the PSC with a subsequent LP Scheme project: LP190101218 – Rebuilding trust in residential building construction in Australia. Dr Breakey has been funded by the PSC to update the guidance it provides professional organisations on codes of ethics and to advise on the evaluation of professional associations’ code activities.

Prof Sampford and Dr Breakey advised ASIC’s Consumer Advisory Panel on the development of two independent submissions to FASEA on their Proposed Guidance on Education Pathways and Code of Ethics for Financial Advisers. Further, the Law Society of NSW chose UNSW Law to collaborate on its FLIP project – Future of Law and Innovation in the Professions – specifically Dr Justine Rogers a CI on this project and Prof Michael Legg, both CLMR members.