Common Ethical Dilemmas that Accountants Face

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For the past several years financial difficulties in the United States and around the world have resulted in millions of people having their quality of life diminished.  It is common knowledge that those suffering from economic hardships, or even the prospect of economic difficulties, will sometimes seek creative and unethical or illegal methods of making ends meet.

When it comes to accountants, these financial professionals must be ready to resist any temptation, which may come in the form of a client insisting that they engage in unethical practices.  Here we will take a look at some of the more common unethical requests made of accountants.

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Play with the numbers – One of the most common unethical requests clients make of their accountants involves having them manipulate the books in order to distort a company’s or individual’s overall financial picture.  This request can put an accountant into a particularity difficult situation: risk losing the business or go along with the unethical request.

Of course, the right course of action is always to act ethically, even when that means losing a valuable client.

Turn a Blind Eye – Another common unethical request is to insist that an account simply turn a blind eye to unethical or illegal business or accounting practices.  Once again, this kind of situation may place the accountant in a difficult lose-lose situation.

However, considering the fact that accountability and honesty are two of the core pillars of the accounting profession, generally accountants will know the right course of action to take in such situations, and must follow through on the ethical path of action.

Give a bad idea the stamp of approval – Sometimes an accountant’s opinion will be requested in order for one party to convince another party that a particular financial course of action is prudent.

However, as with the other cases, the accountant should never simply agree to give their stamp of approval to a financial transaction if he or she is not convinced that said course of action is financially sound.