Ethics and the CPA: Building Trust and Value-Added Services

Synopsis

"A society without truth-and the related quality of trust-will not long endure." -from the Preface Ethics in corporate America has become a bottom-line issue. Scandals such as the junk bond debacle in the late '80s and the recent bankruptcy of Orange County, California, graphically illustrate just how devastating losses from corrupt business practices can be. Closing the rift between a company's public and private face, its avowed as opposed to actual behavior, is now more than ever the concern of the accountant. Examining a firm's business records and practices has traditionally placed the accountant in the role of watchdog. And in a corporate world where ethical ambivalence can complicate even the most routine business decision, a trusted accountant can guide a company toward a revived sense of purpose, showing it how to live up to its own expressed ethical standards-leading the way to new business, increased profits, and cost savings. Ethics and the CPA details just how an accountant can assess a company's ethical health as part of a rigorous accounting regimen-and institute corrective measures. The book begins by clearly defining the accountant's role in the area of "ethical services," with specifics on establishing and performing an audit on an ethics-based program for business, governmental, and not-for-profit entities. Issues such as the specific knowledge, competencies, and attitudes essential to the professional providing ethical services are also discussed. The second part of the book takes the ethical pulse of the contemporary business environment, analyzing some notable ethical failures in well-known companies as well as the range of regulatory demands on CPAs, including the requirement for finding unethical/illegal behavior (SAS 82) and SEC oversight responsibilities. Also included are the results of an ethics survey report on CPAs given to state CPA societies, regulatory bodies, and industry. Finally, part three looks at the framework and issues surrounding developing and leading an in-house ethics program, as well as the elements of an effective ethical program, developing an ethical oversight committee, benchmarking an ethics program, marketing ethical services, and the ethical challenges in the new millennium. Ethics and the CPA is a practical handbook for the accountant on guiding one's clients toward an improved bottom line and financial stability-through impeccable conduct from the boardroom on down. Ensuring your client's continued financial prosperity -with an in-house ethics program. Keeping a firm financially healthy has become more and more a question of monitoring its ethical pulse. Assessing the on-the-job behavior of managers and employees and how closely it measures up to their expressed codes of conduct has now become part of a CPA's overall financial review function. And building an in-house ethics program that both leads and inspires has become one of the key measures of an accountant's success. Ethics and the CPA describes how to make "ethical services" part of the accounting regimen, with specifics on establishing and performing an audit on an ethics-based program for business, governmental, and not-for-profit entities. It also surveys the contemporary business environment, analyzing some notable ethical failures in well-known companies as well as the host of regulatory demands on CPAs, including selected laws and regulations illustrating the range of compliance expected in the United States. The book also provides the specifics of setting up an effective ethical program, developing an ethical oversight committee, benchmarking an ethics program, marketing ethical services, and the ethical challenges in the new millennium. The essential guidebook on how to incorporate ethical services into an existing accounting practice, Ethics and the CPA shows accountants how to make their clients' bottom line an ethical one.

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