Are you really as ethical as you think you are?

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Ethics are at the heart of professionalism and are particularly important in financial services – where transparency and trust are crucial.

As part of a new #AATPowerUp on Ethics, we’ll be providing a range of ethical scenarios to help you navigate tricky situations in your day to day work life. As well as providing the resources you need to enable you to deal with unethical behaviour correctly.

Understanding ethics

Research indicates that almost two-thirds of employees have been asked to do something that made them feel uncomfortable at work.

There are lots of different types of unethical conduct. Some are easy to define. For most people, for example, actions such as lying and stealing are unethical wherever they take place. Others depend on the context.

Here, we kick off with some guidelines to help you recognise what unethical conduct looks like.

What does AAT say about unethical conduct?

Whether you are managing the financial affairs of a company or providing services to an individual, accounting professionals should act ethically at all times.

Under the AAT Code of Professional Ethics, every member must, therefore, follow five fundamental principles.

The 5 fundamental principles

  • Integrity – be straightforward and honest in all professional and business relationships.
  • Objectivity – do not compromise professional or business judgment because of bias, conflict of interest or the undue influence of others.
  • Professional competence and due care – maintain professional knowledge and skill (in practice, legislation and techniques) to ensure that a client or employer receives competent professional service.
  • Confidentiality – do not disclose confidential professional or business information or use it to your personal advantage, unless you have explicit permission to disclose it, or a legal or professional right or duty to disclose it.
  • Professional behaviour – comply with relevant laws and regulations, and avoid any action that may bring disrepute to the profession.

By following these principles, AAT members should be able to ensure:

  • the client’s needs are met
  • the public interest is not compromised
  • risk is properly managed
  • all parties are treated fairly

Over the next month, we’ll be looking at the worst ethical accountants in history, how to spot the signs of corporate crime as well as providing resources and flashcards to help test your ethical knowledge!

First up we look at a selection of ethical accounting dilemmas:

The content team are the owners of AAT Comment.

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