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Shareholders, potential shareholders, and other users of the financial statements rely heavily on the yearly financial statements of a company as they can use this information to make an informed decision about investment. Most countries have differing focuses on enforcing accounting laws. In Germany, accounting legislation is governed by "tax law"; in Sweden, by "accounting law"; and in the United Kingdom, by the " company law ". In addition, countries have their own organizations which regulate accounting. Luca Pacioli , the "Father of Accounting", wrote on accounting ethics in his first book Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni, et proportionalita , published in These various groups have led accountants to follow several codes of ethics to perform their duties in a professional work environment.

Accountants must follow the code of ethics set out by the professional body of which they are a member. United States accounting societies such as the Association of Government Accountants , Institute of Internal Auditors , and the National Association of Accountants all have codes of ethics, and many accountants are members of one or more of these societies.

As a result of discussions, a list of professional ethics was incorporated into the organization's bylaws.

Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics

However, because membership to the organization was voluntary, the association could not require individuals to conform to the suggested behaviors. The AICPA developed five divisions of ethical principles that its members should follow: "independence, integrity, and objectivity"; "competence and technical standards"; "responsibilities to clients"; "responsibilities to colleagues"; as well as "other responsibilities and practices". Failure to comply with the guidelines could have caused an accountant to be barred from practicing.

When developing the ethical principles, the AICPA also considered how the profession would be viewed by those outside of the accounting industry. Courses on this subject have grown significantly in the last couple of decades. In , Stephen E. Loeb proposed that accounting ethics education should include seven goals adapted from a list by Daniel Callahan.

Requiring it be taught throughout the curriculum would necessitate all accounting teachers to have knowledge on the subject which may require training. A single course has issues as to where to include the course in a student's education for example, before preliminary accounting classes or near the end of a student's degree requirements , whether there is enough material to cover in a semester class, and whether most universities have room in a four-year curriculum for a single class on the subject.

There has been debate on whether ethics should be taught in a university setting.


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Supporters point out that ethics are important to the profession, and should be taught to accountants entering the field. Phillip G. Cottel argued that in order to uphold strong ethics, an accountant "must have a strong sense of values, the ability to reflect on a situation to determine the ethical implications, and a commitment to the well-being of others.

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Accounting ethics has been deemed difficult to control as accountants and auditors must consider the interest of the public which relies on the information gathered in audits while ensuring that they remained employed by the company they are auditing. Due to several accounting scandals within the profession, critics of accountants have stated that when asked by a client "what does two plus two equal? The role of accountants is critical to society.

Issues in Financial and Accounting Fraud

Accountants serve as financial reporters and intermediaries in the capital markets and owe their primary obligation to the public interest. The information they provide is crucial in aiding managers, investors and others in making critical economic decisions. Accordingly, ethical improprieties by accountants can be detrimental to society, resulting in distrust by the public and disruption of efficient capital market operations.

From the s to the present there have been multiple accounting scandals that were widely reported on by the media and resulted in fraud charges, bankruptcy protection requests, and the closure of companies and accounting firms. The scandals were the result of creative accounting , misleading financial analysis , as well as bribery. One of the most widely reported violation of accounting ethics involved Enron , a multinational company, that for several years had not shown a true or fair view of their financial statements. Their auditor Arthur Andersen , an accounting firm considered one of the " Big Five ", signed off on the validity of the accounts despite the inaccuracies in the financial statements.

Fraudulent accounting can arise from a variety of issues. These problems usually come to light eventually and could ruin not only the company but also the auditors for not discovering or revealing the misstatements. Several studies have proposed that a firm's corporate culture as well as the values it stresses may negatively alter an accountant's behavior. Until , ethics rules prevented accounting and auditing firms from advertising to clients.

This focus allowed for occurrences of fraud, and caused the firms, according to Apj , " A article in Managerial Auditing Journal determined the top nine factors that contributed to ethical failures for accountants based on a survey of 66 members of the International Federation of Accountants. The factors include in order of most significant : "self-interest, failure to maintain objectivity and independence, inappropriate professional judgment, lack of ethical sensitivity, improper leadership and ill-culture, failure to withstand advocacy threats, lack of competence, lack of organizational and peer support, and lack of professional body support.

Carey, describing ethics in accounting [35]. There are many stakeholders in many countries such as The United States who report several concerns in the usage of rules-based accounting. As a result, financial reports could be viewed with fairness and transparency.

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When the U. However, as a new chairperson of the SEC takes over the system, the transition brings a stronger review about the pros and cons of rules- based accounting. According to auditing experts, most are willing to allow clients to manage their net income based on rules- based standards. IFRS is based on "understandability, relevance, materiality, reliability, and comparability". In particular, the United States has not yet conformed and still uses GAAP which makes comparing principles and rules difficult.

Since the major accounting scandals, new reforms, regulations, and calls for increased higher education have been introduced to combat the dangers of unethical behavior. In addition, the Act put a limit on the fee which a firm can receive from one client as a percentage of their total fees. This ensures that companies are not wholly reliant on one firm for its income, in the hope that they do not need to act unethically to keep a steady income. The act also protects whistleblowers and requires senior management in public companies to sign off on the accuracy of its company's accounting records.

The report also recommended that companies pursue options that would improve training and support so accountants could better handle ethical dilemmas. The act covers a broad range of changes. The highlights of the legislation are consumer protections with authority and independence, ends too big to fail bail outs, advance warning system, transparency and accountability for exotic instruments, executive compensation and corporate governance, protects investors, and enforces regulations on the books. The result is less harm to investors, quickly holding offenders responsible, and to maintain the integrity of the U.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Seven goals of accounting ethics education Relate accounting education to moral issues. Recognize issues in accounting that have ethical implications.

Accounting ethics

Develop "a sense of moral obligation" or responsibility. Develop the abilities needed to deal with ethical conflicts or dilemmas. Learn to deal with the uncertainties of the accounting profession. Appreciate and understand the history and composition of all aspects of accounting ethics and their relationship to the general field of ethics.

Evaluation Copy

Loeb [9]. Main article: Accounting scandals. Every set of published accounts is based on books which have been gently cooked or completely roasted. The figures which are fed twice a year to the investing public have all been changed in order to protect the guilty. It is the biggest con trick since the Trojan horse. In fact this deception is all in perfectly good taste. It is totally legitimate. It is creative accounting. They have to trust him, since they cannot appraise the quality of his 'product'.

CIMA - Incorporating ethics into strategy: second edition

To trust him they must believe that he is competent, and that his primary motive is to help them. October 1, The CPA Journal.


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Good Ethics is Good Business. Ethical Responsibilities of Accounting Firms. The Accounting Profession in Crisis. The Continental Vending Case.