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Professional Ethics - Ethical Issues

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Ethical Issues

The phrase "professional ethics" is stated as a meaning of morality. Morality to the business world suggests how one should behave toward oneself and toward other individuals: whether to be friendly or unfriendly or whether to be generous or greedy. These, and other questions dealt with in a field of study are called Professional Ethics. This paper's intent is to enlighten the public's perception of CPAs in today's society. It will cover all aspects of the field including: pitfalls that they may encounter and methods to prevent some of these negative behaviors and consequences that one will have to accept.

If you have ever caught a glimpse at one of those articles stating who the people feel that is "trust worthy", you would most likely see that politicians, lawyers, and used car salesmen are at the bottom of that list and certified public accountants would be dominate the top. This is because the CPA profession has what you could call a "squeaky-clean image". CPAs are known and respected for their honesty. The accounting profession goes out of its way to project that image, and there is a certain amount of truth to it. All though accountants are looked very highly upon, not all accountants fit into that stereotype. Many of them are quite articulate. Not all CPAs are "squeaky-clean" and respected for their honesty. Some are quite dishonest and are putting a black mark on the image of the entire profession. In recent months a particular

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company made history regarding the biggest bankruptcy the US has ever seen. Unfortunate situations such as this one have put a black mark on the CPAs prestigious character. The analogy that states "one bad apple can ruin the whole batch", well you could say that Enron is that one bad apple.

The one area where the CPA profession has fallen short is protecting the public interest. The general duty that accountants owe to their clients and the other persons who are affected by their actions is to "exercise the skill and care of the ordinarily prudent accountant" in the same circumstances. Two elements compose the general duty of performance: skill and care. In even simpler terms, no matter how big or small the account is the CPAs should always treat every account the same way. Another element and responsibility is owed to clients and other persons, that is that accountants should observe a standard of ethical or social responsibility. Instruction in accounting ethics is directed at people whose character-or lack there of-has largely been formed by the time the instruction occurs. Although such instruction should increase the moral awareness of those who are already predisposed to listen, its effect on the basically self-interested, indifferent, or unethical is questionable. Even those who are positively influenced by ethics instruction, moreover, may still behave irresponsibly if their careers or their livelihoods require them to act in their client's financial interest.

Recently there has been pressure to put more ethics education in the accounting classroom. In accounting ethics education



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