Men are alike in their promises. It is only in their deeds that they differ. Molière
We’ve all been there.
Your client wants you to sign off on an issue, one that is in the land of gray–you know, that place where there is no black or white. And, of course, the issue has significant dollars attached to it, so it’s important.
Your anguish rises, so you try to see the Great Oz, but he’s not available. No trips to Kansas today.
You want to do the right thing, but what is it?
Four Questions for Clarity
Here are four questions to ask:
- How would I feel if my choice was placed on the front-page of the local newspaper (or in the Journal of Accountancy)?
- What would my father do (or anyone else I greatly respect)?
- What would I advise my child to do? (If your child is three, pretend she is thirty.)
- What’s the worst thing that could happen?
Four Actions for Clarity
Here are four actions to take:
- Call the AICPA Ethics Hotline or the AICPA Technical Hotline (877-242-7212). (They are independent of the issue, so they will give you a straight-up answer.)
- Call a CPA with knowledge in the area of concern, and ask his or her opinion.
- Create a memo supporting your proposed decision, and share it with a partner, quality control department, or whoever is in charge. (I find that writing creates clarity.)
- Sit on it (if you can). I gain clarity as I allow the issue to percolate, and as I pray about it. I try not to make a high-stakes decision quickly. A hurried decision is usually a poor one.
Remember, a clear conscience is a precious commodity. If you believe a particular course of action is going to keep you awake at night, then your conscience is speaking to you.
Do the right thing and sleep well. Good evening.