PracticeConsultingLeader – Time to blow the whistle.

Leader - Time to blow the whistle.

An emphatic 88% of FDs questioned by Accountancy Age this week said they would blow the whistle on their boss if they were hiding financial irregularities. However, is propriety more important than loyalty? Does responsibility to shareholders matter more than self-preservation? In short, yes.

The reputation of lawyers may have become tarnished in the eyes of the wider public while the names of politicians, these days, seem little better than mud. But accountants continue to be seen as a bastion of integrity.

Nothing should be allowed to shake that image.

And that’s why Joint Disciplinary Tribunals, including another into Barings announced this week, enhance the profession’s reputation. They do not, as some fear, tarnish it. The only thing that would do that would be avoiding this sort regulatory inquiry, even those that appear to surface a frustratingly long time after the event.

If all this sounds logical it is this sort of thinking that underpins the reasons why accountants continue to be held in high regard. It’s also the reason why the much delayed Foundation, the profession’s new regulator, matters so much.

But having said all this any potential whistleblowers should not underestimate the personal cost involved. Last week Antonio Fernandes won £293,441 compensation in the first victory under the UK’s whistleblower rules. Since being dismissed by telecoms business Netcom Consultants UK in December 1999, however, Fernandes has been unable to find work.

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