What is ethical accounting? The idea of accounting ethics deals with the moral and values-based judgments and decisions an accountant or accounting agency confront daily in their practice. Due to the nature of their work as communicators of financial information to business managers, shareholders, and the general public, as well bookkeeping and auditing of business entities, accountants and accounting agencies are held to the highest standards of transparency and morality in regards to their research and the information they convey. Accounting can be used as a way to study how and why a business may succeed or fail, but above all it is a public service; those who practice it must make judgments and decisions that can sometimes supersede the interests of their clients in favor of the interests of the public at large.
Failure to apply ethical standards to accounting creates the opportunity for manipulation of facts and information that, if used to mislead, could cause a person to invest under false pretenses, or a business to represent its finances fraudulently to its shareholders. It is of the utmost importance that the public be able to trust accountants and accounting, because their financial future, and that of their family or business, could be at stake.
Why is it important that accountants and accounting firms be ethical?
Over the years there have been several large accounting scandals in the United States, and in the world at large, which caused private investors and public shareholders to lose billions of dollars, and giant businesses and accounting firms to fold, because of falsified or incorrect information given out about the companies in which the money was invested. The Enron scandal is perhaps the most recent and glaring example of unethical accounting causing widespread negative effects, including the loss of $25 billion in shareholder assets, the closure of the Arthur Anderson auditing firm, and the subsequent loss of 85000 jobs when the unethical practices were reported and the company dissolved.
Ethical accounting is not only important to private businesses or individuals for reliable information about their respective financial states, but has a responsibility to the public to provide transparent evaluations of publicly held business entities. Ethical accounting can help eliminate the serious problems raised when incomplete or incorrect information about business or individual is disseminated, saving money and jobs and helping to increase stability in financial markets.