Bank of England chief Mark Carney on Tuesday warned that the capitalist system could collapse unless bankers began to behave more ethically.
Speaking at a London conference on capitalism's future, Carney urged bankers to be "custodians of their institutions" and blamed the financial crisis on the sector's "reductionist view of the human condition".
"Just as any revolution eats its children, unchecked market fundamentalism can devour the social capital essential for the long-term dynamism of capitalism itself," he said.
"To counteract this tendency, individuals and their firms must have a sense of their responsibilities for the broader system.
"Financial capitalism is not an end in itself, but a means to promote investment, innovation, growth and prosperity," said the bank chief who is Canadian.
"Bankers need to see themselves as custodians of their institutions, improving them before passing them along to their successors," he added.
"In the run-up to the crisis, banking became about banks not businesses; transactions not relations; counterparties not clients."
Carney recognised the problem of inequality, and blamed it on globalisation and technology, which created global "superstars" in different sectors of the economy.
"Now is the time to be famous or fortunate," he said.