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Another challenge facing the industry today is the important legal issues that surround the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (Koehn & Del Vecchio, 2004). One of these is the fact that the process of due diligence practiced by many companies is now taking much longer (Koehn & Del Vecchio, 2004). There is a higher degree of caution than was previously utilized and because of this many companies are discovering information that would have gone unnoticed before the Act was passed. This is, however, not the only legal issue that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has caused (Koehn & Del Vecchio, 2004). Another concern is that accountants and attorneys could now be required to report the known wrongdoings of corporations that they have business with to authorities.
Since lawyers are now required to disclose these types of issues, the attorney-client privilege has been compromised by this Act (Koehn & Del Vecchio, 2004). However, the Act was necessary in the face of all of the corporate scandal that came to light in 2003 (Koehn & Del Vecchio, 2004). This was indicative of a much larger legal issue, which was that corporate individuals all over the country were breaking the law and assuming that they were safe because their attorneys were not allowed to say anything about it. It was clear that this had to be stopped, regardless of the other potential legal problems that the Act might create (Koehn & Del Vecchio, 2004).
How corporations are governed has been affected by this Act as well, because these corporations know that they can no longer get away with some of the things that they did in the past. Accountants are also having a more difficult time (Koehn & Del Vecchio, 2004). Like attorneys, they must now alert authorities to potential wrongdoing where before they were not required to give this kind of information (Koehn & Del Vecchio, 2004). This puts a great deal of pressure on accountants, but it can be seen that the largest impact rests on the lawyers, because they have the most to lose with this issue and their responsibility level has been elevated much beyond what it was.
A common misconception about accountants is that they are all stodgy people who do not know how to have any fun. In reality, this is not the case. Accountants like numbers. They enjoy working with them and they are, presumably, good at what they do. However, they are also human beings like everyone else and they enjoy all kinds of activities. With that in mind, it is very important to be aware of the fact that there is no reason to assume that an accountant is a boring individual.
Another common misconception is that accountants are not trustworthy because of issues like the Enron scandal. When one considers how many accountants are out there, though, the number of accountants who are dishonest is a very, very small percentage. All professions have people in them who are less than completely honest, and the accounting profession as a whole should not be punished because of a few people who did things incorrectly. That would be grossly unfair to the people who have worked very hard to get where they are in their accounting careers and who would never fake the numbers just to make a company look good or to get any other benefits.
Accounting, overall, is a good profession to be in. there is always a need for accountants because they do so much good for companies -- especially companies that are very large and that have a difficult time keeping up with the people that they get money from and pay money out to. Accountants are needed for these kinds of companies, and many smaller companies use them, as well. They are also used by individuals who are doing their taxes, starting up a business, or otherwise doing something with their money that they are a little bit uncertain about. Accountants wear a lot of different hats in that regard and they do a lot of different things. Most of them greatly appear to enjoy it.
As for the people who think that accountants are bad people because of things like Enron, there are always people who will do things wrong, and there are always people who will condemn others. Most accountants are very ethical people who would not adjust the numbers to make things appear as something other than what they really are. It would be wrong to assume that about an entire profession, and accountants or people who wish to study to be accountants would be wise to focus on what they want to do and not on critics who might object to it for some reason or in some form.
Bradley, C.F. (1994). An empirical investigation of factors affecting corporate tax compliance behavior. Ph.D. dissertation, the University of Alabama.
Koehn, J.L. & Del Vecchio, S.C. (2004). Ripple effects of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.…[continue]
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