Ethics is defined as "moral principles that govern a person's behaviour or the conducting of an activity". It isn't, as far too many people believe, a county north east of London.
Chartered accountants are trusted because they act in an ethical way. We produce accounts which reflect business results as they are, not as others want them to be. Sometimes clients don't like it because it costs them money but we have to do the right thing because otherwise accounts would be worthless and clients would not have any evidence of the success of their business.
This week a client asked me to produce a set of accounts showing a profit of £85,000 so she could apply for a £300,000 mortgage. Unfortunately she didn't have any records and worse still she wasn't prepared to supply any.
I told her to find another accountant (because I didn't work like that).
I did this for two reasons:
- I'm not prepared to surrender my qualification as a chartered accountant to help a client commit fraud: but more importantly
- I want HMRC and lenders to know they can trust me. I can't put a price on that and that's one reason why my fees are higher than the firms who will compromise their professional standing for a quick dollar.
Interestingly the client emailed me after I'd told her to find another accountant and said:
"Your reputation in this industry has gone down, us girls do speak you know"
More interestingly, I posted a cut-down version of this post on Twitter earlier today and up to now (12 hours later) I've had a dozen replies all telling me I did the right thing.