The Dean of the University of Ghana Business School, Prof. Joshua Yindenaba Abor, has deplored accountants who connive with suppliers and others to over-invoice in order to embezzle funds and perpetuate fraud.
He stated that nations and corporate bodies thrived on sound ethical values, noting that trust was key for survival under any setting.
“Financial systems and the going concern principle will fail once trust and ethical behavior are neglected,”Prof. Abor said when he addressed the 26th graduation ceremony of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG) in Accra.
He stressed that the world, business, employers, staff and customers required ethical behavior from accountants who would question whether “we seek the interest of the organization we work for we seek the interest of the suppliers we deal with”.
The event saw the graduation of 394 students who successfully completed the Chartered Accounting Professional programme last year as well as the admission of 364 qualified professional accountants as members of ICAG.
Thirty-one students who had completed the Accounting Technician Scheme of West Africa programme also graduated.
While urging the graduates to live ethically in their professional career, Prof. Abor asked them to strive to earn respect professionally and in every area of their lives and also to maintain their integrity, objectivity, values and fairness.
He further asked them to be courteous and considerate, but insist and ensure that the right thing was done.
“Do not succumb to the pressure to violate laws and regulations and desist from exerting pressure on fellow accountants and colleagues to act unethically, “he added.
The dean regretted the situation where public sector organisations were unable to produce financial statements for audits by the Auditor-General with a professional accountant as the director of finance and described it as an affront to the profession.
He argued that it was the responsibility of the professional to ensure that all the resources needed to produce timely financial reports were provided, adding, “You have no excuse as an accountant if your draft financial statements are not ready by the end of the first month after the end of the reporting period”.
Expatiating on what goes into the training of accountants, Prof. Abor said “our training as accountants, teaches us timely recording of transactions so the last transactions of the year should have been entered on that day if you were performing above board”.
He advised accountants to avoid giving excuses, reminding them that the world rewarded excellence and no excuses.For those who wished to start a practising firm later, Prof. Abor further advised them to act professionally by ensuring they charged fees that kept the reputation and value of the profession.
Corporate governance principles
Touching on good corporate governance, Prof. Abor said current thinking on corporate governance created an opportunity for professional accountants to exert influence on processes and structures through which organisations were controlled and directed.
Against that backdrop he posited that good corporate governance led to improvement in what he described as the triple bottom line (planet, people and profit) which enabled companies to operate more efficiently. He enumerated contemporary pillars of corporate governance to include good board practices, board commitment, transparent disclosures, shareholders’ rights and a controlled environment.
Prof. Abor explained that good board practices and board commitment required proper budgeting and allocation of resources as well as the provision of relevant and timely financial information.
He reminded the graduating class that surviving in business or practice came with challenges but assured them that with persistence all challenges would turn into opportunities.
He underscored the need for them to develop skills and character in their professional life to overcome corporate politics and vindictiveness, cope with limited resources and constraints, inadequate or non-commensurate rewards lack of support, sidelining by colleagues, and manage pressure and tight deadlines.
Prof. Abor congratulated the graduating students for their achievement.