Featured Article

Besides greed, what motivates insider traders?

Feelings of betrayal, work stress, enticement are factors

Scott London, a senior partner at a Big 4 accounting firm, shared inside secrets to help a buddy in a tight financial spot. After following the rules for 26 years, why would he commit fraud? Insider traders — mostly males — do it for the money, of course, but they’re also influenced by hubris, feelings of conquest, playing seduction games and adrenaline highs.

Scott London seemed to have had it all. A senior partner at a Big 4 accounting firm, he had success, prestige and a big salary. Even so, his career and personal life would come undone when FBI agents showed up at his home in March 2013 investigating his insider trading with his friend, Bryan Shaw.

The story broke in the news along with a surveillance photo of Scott London receiving a bag containing cash from his buddy, Shaw. London had already informed his bosses at KPMG, and they summarily fired him. His wife found out about his crime on her birthday when she got home after the FBI agents had gone.

When London spoke with news reporters after he was charged with securities fraud and insider trading, he was unable to answer why he’d passed tips. He knew better, he said, but he did it anyway. It began when he tried to help Shaw, whose business had fallen on tough times.

When I watched the news video of Scott London it was painfully obvious he was ashamed of his behavior and at a loss to fully explain it. He’d betrayed others and caused harm to his firm and its clients, and his loved ones. (See An Insider Trader Expresses Regrets, by Michael Rapoport, The Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2013.)

I appreciated that he wasn’t attempting to manipulate the press with excuses, and he seemed to be searching for why he’d sabotaged his career and his reputation. As a practicing psychotherapist, I observe a person’s affect, their expressions and whether they match the words they’re saying. I concluded that London was genuine, and more likely than not, he had a conscience.

London received a 14-month sentence, which was reduced by two months for good behavior, and he was out in 2015, according to Scott London, Ex-Auditor From Insider-Trading Scheme, Is Out of Prison, Has a Job, by Michael Rapoport, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2015. Bryan Shaw was sentenced to five months. He was released in November 2014, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

For full access to story, members may sign in here.

Not a member? Click here to Join Now. Or Click here to sign up for a FREE TRIAL.