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Accountants’ ethics rated despite tanking finance sector

Accountants continue to be viewed as the most ethical professionals in the banking, finance and insurance sector, as financial advisers continue to fall short.

Business Reporter 12 November 2019
— 1 minute read

The Governance Institute of Australia’s annual Ethics Index has found that the banking, finance and insurance sector continues to suffer from the fallout of the royal commission, ranking as the most unethical sector across a broad range of industries, with high executive salaries a key ethical issue for many people.

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However, accountants and tax agents continue to rank as the top two ethical occupations within the sector, scoring the highest in ethical behaviour, at 51 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively.

Their scores ranked favourably when compared to financial planners and mortgage brokers, who scored 33 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

“The banking and finance sector continues to suffer from credibility issues following the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. One in two people now rate the sector either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ unethical,” said Governance Institute of Australia chief executive Megan Motto.

“High executive salaries are seen as the most ethically important issue for the banking and finance sector, with 74 per cent of Australians saying it’s unethical to offer a CEO salary of more than $3 million per annum.”

Professional accounting bodies also continue to be ranked highly as ethical organisations, with CPA Australia making the top five with a 60 per cent ethical score.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand came sixth with a 57 per cent ethical score.

Apart from the banking and finance sector, the worst performing sectors include the media, large corporations and the government.

The sectors rated most ethical are health, education, charities and not-for-profit organisations, and agriculture.

When rating the ethical behaviour of people they are in close personal contact with, most people rated their GP as the most ethical person they are in contact with (82 per cent) followed by their pharmacist (80 per cent).

In stark contrast are local members of federal parliament, state parliament and local councillors, who tied in last position with just 39 per cent.

Accountants’ ethics rated despite tanking finance sector
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