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Acting professionally at work

To act professionally you need to:
- Comply with and keep up to date with relevant legislation,
- Uphold professional values and standards
- Act ethically.
Examples of relevant activities include: Keeping up to date and complying with relevant legal and regulatory requirements which affect your work, including laws on theft, fraud, money laundering, insider trading and health, safety and security legislation.
Adhering to the following fundamental principles of ethical behaviour with clients, colleagues, suppliers and customers:
- Integrity
- Objectivity
- Professional and technical competence and due care
- Confidentiality
- Professional behaviour.
Adhering to organisational policies affecting your work, including those relating to handling client's money and money laundering.
Following organisational procedures or policies for retaining confidential business records, files and other documents safely and securely.
Resolving ethical dilemmas or managing conflicts you have faced at work.
Key knowledge and understanding:
- Understanding what it means to be a professional
- Knowing about relevant laws and regulations affecting bookkeepers and accountants
- Understanding the fundamental principles contained within the ACCA's Code of Ethics and Conduct
- Appreciating that there are different ethical perspectives which apply to resolving dilemmas and conflicts.

Question 1: Describe an occasion where you had to apply your knowledge of relevant laws, uphold fundamental principles or resolve an ethical conflict or dilemma at work.

Question 2: What did you learn from this experience and how will it influence your future behaviour at work?

Question 3: What would have been the possible consequences if you had not complied with legal and regulatory requirements or had behaved unprofessionally or unethically?


Solution Preview

1. An occasion when I had to apply my knowledge of relevant laws, uphold fundamental principles and resolve ethical conflict or dilemma at work was when I was asked by the CFO to inflate the value of inventory. I had returned from an inventory count and the CFO called me to his office and made this unbelievable request. How should I inflate inventory? He told me to include destroyed inventory, empty containers, and use any "creative accounting" method to double the value of inventory. The annual profit targets had to be achieved at "any cost". The CFO told me that if I came up with excellent creative accounting ideas, I will be rewarded with an increment or even a promotion. I would be on the fast track to the top. On the other hand if I refused to double the value of the inventory, then I might be sidelined or even laid off. This was a serious dilemma for me. Since, I had returned from an inventory count and had not submitted any report, I was in a position to double the inventory. The CFO was my direct superior and it was my duty to carry out his orders. I had actually been ordered to carry out an act that was not merely unethical but was also illegal.
What I remembered was the ACCA code of conduct which is set out in section 3 of the ACCA rulebook. The fundamental principles of the ACCA code of conduct begin with integrity. If I increase the value of the inventory will I remain honest and straightforward? The principles of fair dealing and truthfulness would be violated. For example, inflating the inventory figures will mean lying to stakeholders in general and shareholders/investors in particular. The next principle of ACCA code of conduct is objectivity. If I accede to the request of the CFO and inflate the inventory figure I would be compromising my professional judgment as well as business judgment. I would be committing a fraud for which I might be jailed. Doubling the inventory figure would be to throw away the principles of competence and due care. The principle of competence means that I must use my skills and abilities to assess the inventory correctly and report it properly. The reported figures must show the real inventory. The ACCA code of conduct specifies that members should behave in a professional manner. In particular it means compliance with relevant laws and regulations. The doubling of ...

Solution Summary

A personal dilemma related to the accounting profession is explained in a structured manner in this response. The answer includes references used.