Ethical Behavior for Management Accountants By January 2, 2 comments The ethics requirements for management accountants reflect their diverse responsibilities in serving a variety of constituencies. Several organizations provide guidance to help. For example, the first words of the Handbook of the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants Handbook mention the interests of the public:
Your efforts to strengthen compliance and ethics throughout the private sector are profoundly important. Today I would like to address a topic of Sefeguards threats for ethical compliance in financial importance to all aspects of compliance and ethics programs, conflicts of interest.
I will then turn to the role of risk management and risk controls within firms in identifying and managing conflicts of interest, especially the significance of managing conflicts of interest for the criteria laid out in SEC and FINRA compliance program rules and the U.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines on effective compliance and ethics programs. Of course I begin by noting that views I express here today are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission or of my colleagues on the staff of the Commission.
Regulators' Interest in Conflicts of Interest. This is based on the long experience of our exam program that conflicts of interest, when not eliminated or properly mitigated, are a leading indicator of significant regulatory issues for individual firms, and sometimes even systemic risk for the entire financial system.
Accordingly, we focus on conflicts of interest as an integral part of our assessment of which firms to examine, what issues to focus on, and how closely to scrutinize. In addition, over the past two years we conducted a sweep on conflicts of interest around confidential information received through investment banking and other business operations, and have just issued a report on that sweep which I will discuss in a few minutes.
We also try to flag conflicts of interest that we have identified in our National Examination Risk Alerts and other public statements.
Other regulators have a similarly keen focus on conflicts of interest. For example, FINRA is currently conducting a sweep exam of its member firms concerning their efforts to identify and manage conflicts of interest.
Conflicts of Interest and the Federal Securities Laws. Last year at this event I spoke about the ways in which ethics underpinned the federal securities regulatory regime.
So I should begin by tying ethics to conflicts of interest. As in the microbial world, these viruses come in a vast array of constantly mutating formats, and if not eliminated or neutralized, even the simplest virus is a mortal threat to the body.
Especially when combined with the wrong culture and incentives, conflicts of interest can do great harm. Accordingly, conflicts of interest are an integral part of our assessment of which firms to examine, what issues to focus on, and how to examine those issues.
It is hardly a term of art. A simple Google search shows that it is used in varying ways in different contexts. I prefer to think of a conflict of interest as a scenario where a person or firm has an incentive to serve one interest at the expense of another interest or obligation.
This might mean serving the interest of the firm over that of a client, or serving the interest of one client over other clients, or an employee or group of employees serving their own interests over those of the firm or its clients.
This way of thinking about conflicts takes the discussion to a broad consideration of what is the right thing to do as a matter of law and ethical decision-making. It also recognizes that there are reputational risks that can be damaging or even fatal to a business organization when people or firms make decisions that may be technically within the letter of the law, but are not in keeping with the spirit of the law and hard to explain to the constituencies with which they must keep faith, such as customers, creditors, investors, or employees.
This rubric is useful as far as it goes, but really just about any bad behavior can be explained in terms of conflicts of interest. The types of conflicts that I find most challenging are situations where people who profess to be ethical and clear-thinking are led astray by cultural pressure poor tone at the topmisaligned financial incentives, herd behavior everybody else is doing itor just personal weaknesses —vanity, self-delusion or poor judgment.
The best antidote for this type of conflict is a strong ethics program for the organization, as well as a strong internalized sense of ethics by everyone in an organization, manifested in their ability — especially executives, business managers, compliance officers and lawyers — to think independently, rigorously, and objectively.
Conflicts of interest exist throughout the commercial world.
They are a particularly important challenge for large and complex financial institutions, which can have affiliations that lead to a host of potential conflicts of interest.
Just as important, these businesses are highly dynamic, as new products, activities and trading strategies constantly evolve to meet changing client needs and market conditions.
This means that new conflicts are constantly arising, and so these firms need to be very disciplined in continually searching for new conflicts and working through how to address them. In addition, approaches to remediating existing conflicts may also require regular reconsideration as circumstances change.
Failure to manage conflicts of interest has been a continuing theme of financial crises and scandals since before the inception of the federal securities laws. During the early s, the Pecora hearings held by the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency revealed a vast array of self-dealing and other conflicts of interest throughout the financial markets, such as the use of bank loans to support bank affiliates and affiliate-underwritten securities, and incentives on the part of banks to give investment advice that supported affiliate-underwritten securities.
The Pecora hearings ofwhich focused on the causes of the crash and the subsequent banking crisis, uncovered a wide range of abusive practices on the part of banks and bank affiliates. These included a variety of conflicts of interest; the underwriting of unsound securities in order to pay off bad bank loans; and "pool operations" to support the price of bank stocks.
Recent decades have seen numerous examples of conflicts leading to crisis. The s and early s exposed yet more financial scandals.The internationalization of auditing: ifac, iaasb & ifiar Threats and safeguards -members must identify threats to compliance with fundamental principles -systems and procedures to ensure compliance with ethical standards The code- professional accountant in public practice.
- Specific ethical threats and safeguards in accounting - Ethical threats in auditing and assurance service - Ethical threats in other financial services and. Relevant Extracts from Code of Ethics Ethical Conflict Resolution threats to compliance with the fundamental principles.
For example, a threat to threats and apply safeguards when necessary to eliminate the threats or reduce them to an acceptable level. Before accepting or continuing a client relationship or specific. Washington University Law Review Volume 80 Issue 2Conflicts of Interest in Corporate and Securities Law January Threats and Safeguards in the Determination of Auditor Independence William T.
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