Ethics In Business And Accounting Decisions

business ethic photoDepending on the type of business, the facts and circumstances surrounding accounting decisions may not always make them clear cut, and yet the decision may determine whether the company shows a profit or a loss in a particular period! What are the factors that influence business and accounting decisions, and how should these factors be weighed? Generally, three factors influence business and accounting decisions:

The economic factor states that the decision being made should maximize the economic benefits to the decision maker. Based on most economic theory, every rational person faced with a decision will choose the course of action that maximizes his or her own welfare, without regard to how that decision impacts others. In summary, the combined outcome of each person acting in his or her own self-interest will maximize the benefits to society as a whole.

The legal factor is based on the proposition that free societies are governed by laws. Laws are written to provide clarity and to prevent abuse of the rights of Individuals or society. Democratically enacted laws both contain and express society’s collective moral standards. Legal analysis involves applying the relevant laws to each decision, and then choosing the action that complies with those laws. A complicating factor for a global business may be that what is legal in one country might not be legal in another. In that case, it is usually best to abide by the laws of the most restrictive country.

The ethical factor recognizes that while certain actions might be both economically profitable and legal, they may still not be right. Therefore, most companies, and many individuals, have established standards for themselves to enforce a higher level of conduct than that imposed by law. These standards govern how we treat others and the way we restrain our selfish desires. This behavior and its underlying beliefs are the essence of ethics. Ethics are shaped by our cultural, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds. An ethical analysis’s needed to guide judgment for making decisions.

The decision rule in an ethical analysis is to choose the action that fulfills ethical duties responsibilities of the members of society to each other. The challenge in an ethical analysis is to identify specific ethical duties and stakeholders to whom you. Owe these duties. As with legal issues, a complicating factor in making global ethical decisions may be that what is considered ethical in one country is not considered ethical in another. Ethical training starts at home and continues throughout our lives. It is reinforced by the teaching that we receive in our church, synagogue, or mosque; the schools we attend; and by the persons and companies we associate with. A thorough understanding of ethics requires more study than we can accomplish in this book. However, remember that, when making accounting decisions, do not check your ethics at the door. Help on Homework

Keys To Good Accounting Practices

Keeping Good Records
One of the ingredients of good accounting practices is keeping proper records. No matter how small or large a business, it is essential to have a filing/storage system in place to store all financial records. Financial records include receipts, invoices, bank tellers, cheque stubs, withdrawal slips, bank statements etc. With the advent of online banking, emails and other forms of online communication, more businesses are storing their accounting information in virtual form. More invoices and receipts are now sent by emails to reduce carbon print, whilst more payments are been carried out online than ever before.

Despite the advancement in technology to aid accounting communication, it is essential that all form of records is kept safely for easy access. This is crucial for accurate financial reporting and business decision making. If a business stores more information on IT systems than files, then a back-up system is important for added security of data. Filing systems must be easily accessible preferable in chronological order. It might also be necessary to keep records of incoming paper-format financial information on a system as back-up.

For taxation purpose documents – paper or computer generated must be kept for a minimum of five years after the end of the accounting period of the business.

Accounting Systems
Accounting services vary from business to business; some companies prefer to outsource their accounting to an accounting firm or freelancer accountant. Another option is to hire staff to carry out all financial functions in-house whilst some small business owners choose to perform these accounting functions themselves.

The accounting system a business chooses must be able to meet the needs of the business. A small business might be better off hiring an accountant, rather than invest in a system there will be no time to operate. A large organisation might be able to afford a good accounting package, but the system will be of no use if there is no competent staff to operate it. For effective accounting, businesses must ensure they match their accounting needs with the appropriate system including outsourcing options.

Monitor Information
A business account is like the flip chart at the end of a patient’s bed which shows the vital signs of that business. To keep the business vitals in good condition, businesses should constantly appraise their financial status to ensure a good book balance.

Most medium to large organisations carry out a monthly, quarterly or regular form of management accounting exercise. These reports are for internal use and it enables the business to identify its financial position on a consistent basis. Though meant for internal purposes, it is an effective way to monitor performance and plan for the future.

Legal Requirements
Businesses must satisfy legal accounting requirements whilst in operation. It is also important that they meet the need of the various stakeholders in the company. These stakeholders have a legal requirement to certain financial information, which must be presented in an acceptable format.

Accounts Statements must also be prepared and filed with the relevant Government bodies – in the UK these are HM Revenue & Customs, Companies House and the Charity Commission. They must be in the right format and submitted by the deadlines set by the authority concerned. Failure to file accounts in the right format and at the right time may result in a financial penalty, except in extreme circumstances.

It is therefore essential that an appropriate book-keeping system is in place to ensure information is captured accurately and efficiently. It is also crucial that businesses have “best practice” policies in place to ensure accounts personnel complies with legal requirements.

Account Personnel
Competent accounting personnel are as valuable as the information they provide. Most businesses require the assistance of experienced accountants to collate and file their accounts. Medium to large companies generally recruit their own personnel to look after their company accounting processes. With the credit crunch hitting businesses profit margin, a lot of businesses are outsourcing their accounting services to external firms. Some of the main advantages of outsourcing are the reduction in staff related costs and the wide range of expertise gained from reputable accounting firms.

Whatever product or service a business provides, ethical accounting practices will ensure a business is able to identify its financial position and plan according to ensure its survival and longevity.