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The Ethics Coach on How to Maintain the Integrity of Your Brand The Ethics Coach offers advice on managing trust and protecting reputation.

By Gael O'Brien

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Daniel Stolle
Welcome to our column on ethics and small business. Do you have an ethical dilemma? Write to The Ethics Coach at

Trust and reputation are assets entrepreneurs must work continually to increase--consider them as "currencies" that can be measured far beyond dollars, and that are quickly spent when decisions are made to ignore or mishandle ethical issues. Let's tackle your questions on these valuable commodities.

Q: My partner and I run an insurance brokerage firm. We hire good people, have a code of conduct and reinforce to our producers the importance of reputation, integrity and putting clients' interests ahead of their own commissions. However, the system creates an inherent conflict of interest, as compensation is directly correlated to the amount of coverage producers sell. For example, a client's advisor requested quotes for $15 million of coverage despite the fact that our producer's client review revealed a need not exceeding $5 million. Clients, and often their advisors, have no idea what the suitable need is, so they look for advice from the producer--who can rationalize that more is better for the client.

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