The ET Section 54 – Article III stipulates the idea of “Integrity” in accounting profession and its main issues. Subsection “,4” states: “Integrity also requires a member to observe the principles of objectivity and independence and of due care.” (AICPA, 2008). This principle stipulates that accountants should understand their responsibilities before the community and the organization, and follow the Code of Ethics objectively applying its principles and norms. Integrity in accounting is fundamental to the credibility and reputation of the accounting profession and discipline. The presence of codes of ethics in accounting, as well as various rules of conduct, point to a deontological view favored by the profession and the discipline. Integrity refers to the interpretation or perception of others about the auditor’s independence. Most of the value of the audit report stems from the independent status of the auditor (Duska and Duska, 2002). The people who review financial information can have faith in an auditor’s representations only when they are confident that the auditor has acted as an impartial judge. Otherwise the audit function could be performed by internal auditors who work for the company (Donaldson et al, 2002).
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From a Christian worldview, integrity means overall good and devotion to laws and regulations applied to accounting profession. The work of accountants carries real responsibilities. Their words and actions in rendering opinions relate not only to the technical competency but also to the moral standards and the code of ethics governing the profession (Duska and Duska 2002). It undermines the integrity of financial information and can affect a range of victims: shareholders, creditors, employees, auditors, and even competitors. It is used by firms that are facing economic crises as well as by those motivated by a misguided opportunism. Examples of common types of fraudulent practices include: manipulating, falsifying or altering records or documents; suppressing or omitting the effects of completed transactions from records of documents; recording transactions without substance; misapplying accounting policies; and failing to disclose significant information. It shows a deliberate strategy to deceive by distorting the information and the information records (Donaldson et al, 2002).
From a deontological point of view, integrity is an obligation of accountants who are assigned to follow the prescribed rules. It appears that the profession and the discipline ought to adopt a view of ethics of accounting that (1) rests in a notion of fittingness to an accounting ethos, comprised of freely accepted obligations and traditions and in which are gathered the social and political concerns of society, and that favors the language of responsiveness and responsibility; (2) favors the moral development and moral reasoning of accountants to a level that is defined by a conscience in accord with self-chosen ethical principles of justice, equality, and dignity of human beings, and (3) calls for the adoption of accounting ethics in both education and research in accounting (Duska and Duska 2002). Some people also believe incompetence is a manifestation of a lack of integrity in fact. In each of these cases, the virtues required to render an unbiased opinion are missing. Moreover, organizational systems could be devised to protect them from management retaliation. It is therefore at least possible that they could be independent in fact. First, in order to take an unbiased viewpoint, an auditor must possess the virtues of honesty, objectivity, and responsibility. In other words, on this plane we are concerned with the character of the accountant. The principle of integrity allows accountants to apply ethical standards and norms stipulates in other sections of the Code.
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. (2006). Code of Professional Conduct.
- Donaldson, T., et al. (2002). Ethical Issues in Business, 7th edn, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Duska, R. F., Duska, B. S. (2002). Accounting Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.