A global survey that was conducted by CareersinAudit.com during July-September 2015 have shown that unethical practices are still rife amongst the accountancy profession.
The survey reveals that close to 50% of senior staff members are guilty of making decisions that would benefit the company financially, but are unethical. Pressurising other staff or partners to do the same is also very near the 50% margin.
More than 60% of accountants also suspect that among their peers at least 15%, to as high as 25%, will have no problem to help their clients create misleading information regarding their accounts.
Up to 54% of accountants that participated in the survey, also belief that regulatory bodies are not doing enough to curb unethical behaviour and are not raising enough awareness for the need of a sound ethical standard.
Simon Wright, operations director at CareersinAudit.com, said: “Over the last decade, different industry bodies and the government have been proactively looking at ways to mitigate risk against ‘another Enron’ happening. In the UK, there has been a spate of legislative measures including the Companies Act 2006 requiring each director ‘to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence’, The Bribery Act 2010 and more recently the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 introduced the whistleblowing legislation.
“Meanwhile member associations and institutes, have been identified certain ethical principles as being of crucial importance to the profession. However, ethics tokenism (simply identifying and articulating them) is not enough. In order to put them into practice, organisations need to adopt values that will adhere to the principles and maintain the confidence of stakeholders.”
The survey also revealed that professionals may not wish to whistleblow as they are not being protected. Some three quarters of accountants believe that if an employee reports the conduct of a colleague, the organisation does not do enough to ensure the whistleblower is protected against victimisation or dismissal.
Furthermore, nearly two thirds of accountants do not believe that employees are protected from victimisation or dismissal if they report the wrongdoing of a client.
by Chris Warmoll