Ethics play a large role in the business narrative every single day. Consumers increasingly demand transparent, ethical practices from the businesses they patronize, and many corporations are drafting corporate social responsibility (CSR) statements. This is true for accountants as well.
If you want to attract and retain clients, you need to put ethics at the heart of your business. You may even want to advertise your ethical practices. For example, you may want to draft a CSR and include a copy on your website.
Business ethics covers a broad spectrum of different activities, and it can include everything from environmentally friendly operations to inclusive hiring practices. In the accounting industry in particular, ethics needs to focus on avoiding fraud and manipulation. An ethical accountant ensures that the information submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency is complete and honest. This is also critical from a legal perspective. When an accountant uses unethical practices such as overstating expenses or failing to report income on a tax return, these actions are illegal. The accountant may face repercussions such as fines or loss of professional licences. His clients may also face fees, fines, and even legal penalties.
On top of that, you should offer your clients confidentiality and integrity. Reassure your clients that you won’t share their financial details with other clients or competitors. In terms of integrity, stick to deadlines and keep your promises. If your clients know they can rely on you, they tend to stay happy, and they aren’t as likely to look for a new accountant.
To put ethics at the center of your accounting firm, focus on the legal issues, but don’t forget to consider other ethical concerns such as honesty, integrity, and hiring practices.