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Corporate ethics: doing the right thing in the real world. (FirstLook: Special Advertising Section).

Financial managers and accountants are today faced with increasing responsibility for compliance with all manner of financial reporting requirements. As the number of financial restatements has grown and questions about management integrity have shaken investor confidence, the roles of financial managers and accountants have taken on both more importance and greater risk.

Investors have come to the realization that financial decision-making is rarely a simple black or white choice; rather, they now understand that the variety of ways in which a complex transaction can be structured may dictate the accounting result. For this reason, many institutional investors are now more concerned with the personal values and integrity of financial managers and accountants than with other, more traditional investment criteria.

At the same time that financial managers and accountants have assumed a more prominent position in the management hierarchy, exposure to liability for financial decision making is at an all-time high. Civil litigation can no longer be counted on as the last word in liability for deficient financial reporting, and the search for more sources of recovery means that financial managers and accountants are more likely than ever to become targets in legal actions, regardless of their culpability. Against this backdrop, financial managers and accountants must maintain and enhance their decision making skills within a values-driven environment or may suffer the consequences of their failure to do so.

This book is designed to provide the CPA a series of case studies that illustrate real-world ethical dilemmas and application of values consistent with the high standards of the profession.

In this regard, the CPA can expect to encounter issues addressed in recent Staff Accounting Bulletins, Financial Reporting Releases, SEC Statements and Cautionary Advice, Rule 102(e) of the SEC's Rules of Practice, various provisions of the Securities Exchange Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and newly enacted industry legislation.

The Case Studies

Include ethics topics encompassed by professional ethics codes issued by state accounting societies and accountancy boards, and topics addressed in the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, such as:

* independence

* integrity and objectivity

* confidentiality

* contingent fees, including commissions and referral fees

* compliance with audit, consulting and other standards

* client records

* offering services over the Internet

* internal accounting controls, procedures and records

* procedures concerning identification, reporting and investigation of accounting irregularities

* and more

Robert W. Walter is a partner in the law firm of Berliner Zisser Walter & Gallegos, Denver. This is adapted from his new AICPA book, "Corporate Ethics."
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Author:Walter, Robert W.
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Jun 1, 2003
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