Seven Pillars Institute

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Seven Pillars Institute
Established2010; 8 years ago (2010)
FounderKara Tan Bhala
TypeNon-profit think tank 501(c)(3)
FocusTo highlight and analyze issues of moral philosophy in global financial markets with a view to enhancing ethical practice and policy
  • Kansas City, Missouri
Kara Tan Bhala

Seven Pillars Institute for Global Finance and Ethics (abbreviated SPI) is an independent, not-for-profit think tank based in Kansas City, Missouri. Founded in 2010 by Dr. Kara Tan Bhala, the Institute is authorized under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code and is a nonsectarian and nonpartisan research and educational organization. A large part of the Institute’s work is to provide education on ethics and its application in every area of finance. In addition, the Institute offers analysis and opinions on ethical issues in finance. The Institute is at the forefront of shaping the emerging field of financial ethics and is a leader in increasing public awareness in this practical area of finance.[1] Seven Pillars Institute was cited and shortlisted in the Prospect Think Tank Awards in 2016 for its work on what the financial sector should be doing to help mitigate climate change.[2]


Seven Pillars Institute was founded by Dr. Kara Tan Bhala in Lawrence, Kansas in 2010. The Institute is the first think tank in the world to focus on financial ethics.

Dr. Tan Bhala serves as President of the Institute. She has a MBA from Oxford University and PhD in Philosophy from the University of Kansas. She is a lecturer in finance at the University of Kansas, where she also received her doctorate in Philosophy. Dr. Tan Bhala worked for twenty-three years in international finance, mostly on Wall Street, and nine as a Managing Director at Merrill Lynch.[3] Dr. Tan Bhala has published extensively and has lived and worked in London, Oxford, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York City, and Washington, D.C.[4]


The Institute seeks to "highlight and analyze issues of moral philosophy in global financial markets with a view to enhancing ethical practice and policy."[5] The Institute is the thinking space for new theories and practices that might synthesize ethics with finance. By highlighting, analyzing, and disseminating its research into the public sphere, the Institute hopes to generate awareness and productive and constructive debate on moral issues in finance.


In addition to its mission, the Institute has a long-term quest: to make ethics an integral part of finance theory and thus, practice. The Institute believes it is crucial to change prevailing attitudes towards ethics in finance through modifying and improving finance theory.


The Institute works on three levels. First, it provides guidance on resolving practical, everyday ethical issues commonly encountered in financial practice. Second, the Institute researches on and publishes financial cases containing significant moral issues. Finally, at the highest level, the Institute is the thinking space for new theories and practices that synthesize ethics with finance.

The Institute believes that the current models of finance are showing their limitations and flaws. Financial theories are no longer unassailable and financial practices are questionable. The Institute is dedicated to finding a more desirable paradigm. The work and quest of the Institute have been praised even if the latter is said to be a challenge considering the dominance of neoclassical economic theory.[6]

The Institute has a collaborative affiliations with the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary University of London to work on ethics, law, and regulation in finance. The aim of the collaboration is to foster a dialogue on important ethical policy issues affecting the financial services industry.[7] The Institute also has a collaborative affiliation with IntegTree LLC. Together, the Institute and IntegTree plan to create online training programs in financial ethics and compliance management. The Programs will help financial institutions improve conformity with the law while also fostering ethical awareness.[8]


The Institute publishes a biannual journal, Moral Cents: The Journal of Ethics in Finance,[9] which is the first journal of its kind to focus on financial ethics.[10]

The Institute publishes an online dictionary of ethical and financial terms,[11] case studies in financial ethics from around the world,[12] and a review of topics in ethics under the rubric of "Ethics 101".[13]

The Institute offers a textbook lead authored by its President, Dr. Kara Tan Bhala, International Investment Management: Theory, Ethics and Practice. In addition, Dr. Tan Bhala contributed a chapter, “The Decline and Rise of Financial Ethics” to The Business of Ethics (Dr. Raymond Madden, ed., Asian Institute of Finance, 2016).

Real Clear Markets has featured articles published by the Institute: Financing, Ethics and the 2016 Brazil Olympics[14] and Are Insider Trading and the GM Bailout Ethical?[15]

The Institute is developing a financial ethics training video series titled, Ethics in Finance is Good!. The series will have twelve episodes, each about two to three minutes long, and each dedicated to a specific topic in financial ethics. The videos are largely in animated form and are more light-hearted, entertaining and punchy than the corporate run-of-the-mill ethics training videos.[16]


  1. ^ IntegTree Learning Center (
  2. ^ "Think Tank Awards 2016: the winners | Prospect Magazine". Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  3. ^ "Graduation stories: Financial background, philosophy doctorate could be perfect pairing". Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  4. ^ "Seven Pillars Consulting". Publications. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  5. ^ "About Us". Seven Pillars Institute. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-16. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  7. ^ Centre for Commercial Law Studies (
  8. ^ IntegTree Learning Center (
  9. ^
  10. ^ University of Kansas School of Business (
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Case Studies". Seven Pillars Institute. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  14. ^ Real Clear Markets (
  15. ^ Real Clear Markets (
  16. ^

External links[edit]

The website is [1].