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Integrity in Accounting

To some extent accounting is different from other occupations. While being a good chef but a terrible person, in accounting that doesn’t quite work. The accountant’s character is somehow mixed up with its product. He, or she, does not produce something tangible – a car or a garment or a pastry that could be driven or worn or eaten. An accountant provides reliability, transparency and accountability. The accountant says, “This is what we did with what was given”. The auditor says, “You can trust it, because I checked it”.

For this reason – because accountants are moral agents in society who promote values like honesty and accountability – character plays a role. The reliability of financial statements and the quality of audits are influenced by the integrity, objectivity and diligence of the teams who worked on them. And character, in this context, includes being motivated by the right things, and developing the right dispositions.

Being a good accountant means being motivated by the proper aims of professional activity. For a teacher, the aim should not only be to coach learners to achieve a certain mark, but to supplement knowledge with learning and behavioural habits that prepare learners for life. For the accountant, the proper aim is not to present the firm’s finances in the most favourable light. The proper aim of accounting is to provide sound, decision-useful information to the different groups that make up “the public”.

The accountant is far more likely to achieve this aim if its character is aligned to his or her aim. The fundamental principles of accounting (integrityobjectivityprofessional competence and due careconfidentiality and professionalism) are therefore best thought of as character traits or virtues that accountants are constantly working on, rather than a set of tools taken out when needed the most. Being “straightforward and honest” is second nature for the accountant in all spheres of life, not only at work. Source:

At PRAGMAKONSULT we call it thinking inside the box.