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Conflicting Client Interests: An Ethical Dilemma

Every profession is governed by a set of rules that directs its members to carry out their professional responsibilities in an ethical manner for the benefit of both themselves and their clients. Regardless of whether the practitioner is officially hired by another party or is solely self-employed, the codes of ethics are in effect to ensure that the customer to whom a service is given in exchange for consideration is compensated directly. Codes of ethics are purely set to ensure the core values of professional integrity between a client and a service provider, to minimize or eliminate the conflict of self-interests in that a professional may be entangled by a scenario or any form of distortion between a client and professional service. Ethical dilemmas do exist in daily interactions mainly involving professionals in matters of conflict of self-interest. It takes one a considerable analysis of the underlying scenario followed by a strategic application of the laid down codes of ethics in a very professional way to avoid injury to other parties by the step taken to resolve the conflict. This paper discusses an ethical case study in which a professional accounting practitioner is faced with a dilemma of conflicting a client’s interest followed with appropriate solutions to the case based on the Christian worldview as well the non-Christian worldview.

Ethical Dilemma

The ethical dilemma in this scenario involves me as a professional accounting practitioner who is hired to offer accounting services to various clients. One of my clients is company A which is involved in running a hardware shop in my town of consultancy. Company A is not very profitable and is eyeing for a tender to acquire another business in another town. As a sole practitioner and the client company A have applied differently for various service tenders to the other business which company A is intending to acquire to reduce the level of competition. A fellow practitioner offers services to different clients among them company B which operates an electrical shop. Two months ago, the practitioner fell sick and was incapacitated and was unable to carry out his duties. To avoid leaving his duties unattended to while he is away receiving his medication, he agreed with me to provide services to his clients on his behalf. I am contracted under the service continuity contract to offer services both company B.

The director and the majority shareholder call me to a meeting to discuss a business venture they are planning. At the meeting, they explain to me that they intend to make an offer for acquisition of a hardware shop which they are planning to acquire. They are aware that there is another company that has placed similar offer to acquire the business but they are neither aware that is company A nor my relationship with the company. At the end of the meeting, I am in a dilemma between offering highly valued services to company B on behalf of my fellow practitioner and safeguarding the confidential information of company A. I hold confidential information concerning company A and using the information will benefit company B in acquiring the hardware business and in return it will benefit me personally. However, leaking the weaknesses and strengths of company A will disadvantage it and injury it so much considering it is looking forward to acquiring the business to improve its competitiveness hence profitability. On the other hand, I may offer low-value service to company B to lead to it losing unfairly to company A.

Core beliefs

The Christian teachings highly forbid dishonesty and value so much integrity. According to Christians, one of the commandments given to Moses, "Thou shall not bear false witness." This commandment, according to Christians, calls upon people to remain to true to God and humankind at all times. To be honest means making the decision of avoiding such vices as cheating, stealing or deceiving in any form. An honest person has a strong character which allows one to of great service to both God and humankind. Christians believe that an honest person who is true to the commandments in the Bible stands a chance to be trusted by the Lord (Amsterdam, n.p.). Similar to the worldview, the Christians also believe that dishonesty harms both the offender and the offended. When commits felonies such as stealing, shoplifting, or cheating his reputation and spirit get distorted. The worldview believes that being honest enhances a person's future opportunities and relationship with others. The Christian view encourages subscribers to maintain a high level of honesty in all, their life endeavors.

Honesty is associated with integrity which involves thinking and doing what is right at all times regardless of the consequences that may come with the choice of holding to integrity. A person of integrity is willing to live by the ascribed standards and beliefs even in situations where no one is watching them. According to the Bible, Proverbs 28: 18 (Good News Bible, n.p.), "Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but who is crooked way will suddenly fall." This verse encourages Christians to remain true to the teachings of the Bible with the promise of a happy and successful life to those who abides by the word of God as those who live in their way to perish in return. The Christian worldview of the integrity virtue influences a person to make a choice that will please the Lord as at the end as per the Christian teaching. Therefore, for this scenario, a Christian will consider what is right as the code of ethics that governs how the professionals should conduct their businesses and make a decision that is in line with the regulations.

Resolution

The Christian view of integrity encourages people to act according to the bible teachings that are in most cases aligned with the laid down regulations and policies in most institutions. The Christian way of resolving such dilemmas is to do what is right and doing what is right means following the laid down regulations. This implies that as a Christian, one should strictly abide by the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB) and the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA). Among the key components of the codes of ethics in accounting is professional is confidentiality and conflict of interest (The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day of Saints, n.p.). A person who may be faced with a conflict of interests in a certain scenario has to declare it to the concerned parties. As a sole practitioner, in this case, I know I may give out information that may at least affect the two companies. What I need to do is to inform the practitioner for whom I am working on his behalf. I have also to inform the director, and the majority shareholder on my relationship with the company B which I have been working with and the confidentiality need that I need to adhere to as per my profession and the general code of ethics. Leaking such information concerning the strengths and weaknesses of company A to company B will injure the company A's offer to take over the competing business. Therefore, I should not be involved in the matter to avoid the conflict of interest for fairness and integrity.

Evaluation

The proposed Christian resolution is a fair resolution that aims at achieving integrity and fairness to the concerned parties in conducting their businesses. There is disclosure of material facts underlying me as the practitioner my relationship with the two competing comp companies over the tender. However, as much as this move may be is very fair in nature, it may come to hurt at least one of the concerned parties in the case. The most likely person to be affected is the is my fellow practitioner who has asked me to carry out the duties on his behalf because of the trust to offer quality services to the company. By declaring my relationship with the company, A means I have to decline my involvement in the deal with the company. Consequently, the services have to pass to another practitioner.

Comparison

The Christian worldview resolution is not very much different with the other resolution. The two resolutions aim at enhancing transparency and integrity. They all have the same objectives of achieving transparency and fairness in the conducting business.

Conclusion

Ethics and integrity are essential pillars of enhancing a fair business environment. People may have different views on how to enhance ethics and integrity in their businesses. Most of the professional bodies have a set guidelines referred to as code of ethics which is basically meant to ensure that the professionals adhere to and participate in enhancing

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References

Amsterdam, Peter. "Force For Good: Christian Ethics And Integrity | Anchor". Anchor.tfionline.com. N.p., 2014. Web. 6 Jan. 2017.

Good news Bible,. Good News Bible. 1st ed. New York: American Bible Society, 2000. Print.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day of Saints,. "Honesty And Integrity". Lds.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 6 Jan. 2017.

August 31, 2021

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