Jessica Fino 4 Sep 2018 03:06pm

Over half of accountants pressured to act unethically

More than half of public sector accountants have come under pressure to do something professionally unethical at some point in their career

A Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) survey found that 57% of the 487 accountants surveyed had felt pressured to act unethically, but only 8% say they have fully carried out an unethical action.

The most common actions professionals have felt pressured to carried out were supporting excessively optimistic budgets and business cases, dodging policies, standing orders and other regulations, and unreasonably downplaying risks, the CIPFA told the Public Finance (PF) website.

The survey also found line managers, chief finance officers, chief executives and other directors were the most commonly pressured roles.

Margaret Pratt, chair of CIPFA’s ethics working group, told PF it was concerning that accountants were “prepared, for whatever reason, to compromise their ethical principles”.

“I think that’s quite dangerous in professional terms,” she added.

The survey also found that respondents had been told they would be passed over for promotion, see their post deleted or face disciplinary action if they didn’t comply with an unethical request. Some experienced stress and other mental health problems, it added.