Furthermore, half of accountants have been pressured, or know somebody that has been pressured, into not making necessary account adjustments, a survey by global job board CareersinAudit.com revealed.
This supports research by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, which last month found that more than half of public sector accountants have come under pressure to do something professionally unethical at some point in their career.
However CareersinAudit.com also found that more than a third (35.8%) of the 425 accountants surveyed admitted to being aware of a senior staff member at their workplace who has knowingly made a commercial decision that could be regarded as unethical.
While 22% of accountants believe that more than a quarter of the profession has helped clients establish deliberately misleading accounts, it found that 38% would directly confront their boss if they suspected them of acting unethically.
More than half (51%) felt that those who deliberately sign off on misleading statements should be “banned from practising in the profession”, and one in 10 thought doing so should require prison time as punishment.
Simon Wright, managing director for CareersinAudit.com, said that while the majority of accountants feel they would report misconduct, there remains a “disjoint between the intention and reality of conduct in the profession”.
“There is to some degree an underlying concern about the repercussions for towing the ethical line – whether this is about losing their job, losing a client for speaking up, a risk in promotion of damaging their career reputation,” Wright said.
In August, the Financial Reporting Council handed out a record 16-year exclusion to former chartered accountant and AssetCo CEO Frank Shannon for misconduct in preparation of financial statements.