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skill.” Such attainments being applied to the “affairs of others, either in advising, guiding, or serving their interests or welfare,” we are not, or rather should never allow ourselves to be influenced by selfish motives.
Such motives are the very essence and incentive of commercial traffic; the merchant or manufacturer must strive in competition to obtain a share of trade; his skill, business acumen and energy are all bent towards outreaching his rivals; buyer and seller are upon opposite sides, and the cautionary term “caveat emptor " is ever to the fore.
On the other hand, the practitioner is prepared to assist, by application of his special knowledge and accumulated experience, those of the business world who may have met with problems of a difficult or troublesome nature, the solution of which demands qualities beyond such as may have been acquired within the ordinary range of any one line of commercial effort, and it is imperative, the “sine qua non,” the very strength and life of such relations, that absolute confidence and frankness prevail between the two. The client is not a customer; there should be no thought of bartering or competition by the client in seeking professional service; and as to the practitioner, whose unrighteous desire and greed of gain inspire him to no higher purpose than to reach out in a competitive, merchandising spirit upon every occasion, that he may measure his office results, like oysters, by the bulk, it is charity to say that he has missed his calling. The interests involved are of a mutual rather than of an opposing nature; facts of the most vital nature have to be confided to the practitioner, who, for the nonce, appears as the confidant and business counsellor. He should do on behalf of the client, and in his stead, all things which he, if possessing sufficient knowledge and skill, might do himself.
Ethics, broadly construed, means principle, and not policy; etiquette as well as moral qualities; fraternity and a common spirit in association.
No one with any practical knowledge of affairs will argue that the mere passing of an examination is a proof of intellectual superiority, and still less that it is a guarantee of judicial temperament, common sense, logical faculty, and professional instincts.
Upon the well-understood rule that the whole is greater than any of its units, so it is that a profession or society is justified and, in fact, expected by the laity to establish such rules as will set a standard for its members; therefore, it is the purpose to set down in aphorismatic form, so that they may be readily grasped and retained, some applied practical precepts and rules for the student and practitioner, which to the interested public conveys the dictum of this Association and its affiliated State Societies, that anything short of proper professional demeanor and due regard for the principles of this profession subjects its members to discipline.
SERVICE. 1. To certify to statements, exhibits, schedules or other form
of accountancy work, the auditing or preparation of which was not carried on entirely under the supervision of himself, a member of his firm, or one of the staff,
is wrong. 2. The use of a practitioner's name in professional work by
others than partners or employees is wrong in that it
implies deception. 3. To perform accountancy work payment for which is by
arrangement upon the contingency of the result of
litigation or other form of adjustment is unprofessional. 4. The payment of a commission, brokerage or other form of
inducement to the laity from professional fees is wrong. 5. The acceptance of any part of the fees of a lawyer or any
commercial brokerage, bonus or commission as an in
cident arising out of a practitioner's service is wrong. 6. Active interest in a commercial enterprise while practicing
as a public accountant is to be avoided as incompatible
with strict ethical principles. 7. The practitioner should, wherever possible, avoid acting
as a trustee of special funds or pools as an incident of
his calling 8. A practitioner should avoid serving as a director in corporations in which he is professionally employed.
CLIENTS. 1. Upon engagement a practitioner is in duty bound to tell
his client of all foreknowledge he may have had touch
ing the matter under consideration. 2. Personal responsibility is a fundamental rule of the profession. A practitioner cannot screen himself from the specific acts or laches of his employees; the responsi
bilities are his and those of his firm. 3. Information acquired in the course of service is privi
leged and inviolable. Abuse thereof to the detriment of a former client renders a member subject to the severest
discipline. 4. Efforts that tend to invite or encourage legal contest, or
foster further employment by neglect, manipulation or unfinished service, should be severely dealt with; it is,
in fact, barratry. 5. To recommend or advise clients to a measure or course of
procedure that may even indirectly give the practitioner a personal advantage must be considered as flagrant professional infidelity and misconduct. It is “maintenance," and is punishable as such at common law.
INTER-PROFESSIONAL. 1. Depreciation of opponents in contested matters is unpro
fessional and ethically wrong. 2. Acceptance of an appointment from which a colleague
has withdrawn from conscientious motives, without previously making direct inquiry of such colleague as
to the conditions, is professional discourtesy. 3. Canvassing the clients of a colleague for business is
unprofessional. 4. To recognize or affiliate with a society that in its charter
title assumes the words “ Certified Public Accountant," without warrant of law as to its membership, is wrong, and gives countenance to an implied fraud.
PUBLICITY. 1. No professional accountant should advertise or display
his talents as a merchant does his wares. 2. Professional cards should show in plain inconspicuous
type the name, occupation, and office address. No
strained effect is consistent or dignified. 3. The same form of card may be used in publications of a
recognized standard, such as technical magazines, law
periodicals, etc. 4. It is not good professional form to solicit business through
trade journals, flashy publications, programs, or the daily press, especially under a pseudonym or publisher's
index mark. 5. The use of the public press in discussions or essays on
matters of technical or general interest is legitimate. 6. The use of initials or other insignia as an affix to a prac
titioner's name in his business advertisements other than such as is recognized by statutory enactment in the United States or is authoritatively recognized in other countries is unprofessional.
CORPORATIONS. 1. No member should conceal his personality under a corpor
ate name, either actual or fictitious. 2. The skill and knowledge of the profession is individual,
and cannot be transferred to a corporation, the
accruing goodwill is otherwise lost. 3. Success in any professional career is a matter of person
ality. 4. A corporation “per se " cannot make an audit which in
the full intent of the service is a judicial function. 5. A corporation is without honor, which is the keystone of
the profession. 6. Directors cannot direct in a profession of which they are
not members. It is a prostitution of the financial standing of the directors and stockholders, leading to
unfair competition and prejudiced decisions. The ultimate profit to the lay stockholder or director,
whether expressed tangibly or otherwise, is an illegitimate gain or advantage which the profession cannot
countenance. 8. In the case of legal liability as the result of negligence or
criminal perversion of logical facts the ultimate responsibility rests with the practitioner, notwithstanding the
financial support and control of outsiders. 9. Assurance of secrecy in affairs of clients of such corpor
ations cannot be taken seriously. 10. The profession needs no control or regulation from the
laity; it is not an industry. With these rules and precepts for the guidance of the professing accountant set out upon a plan which the commercial public can grasp, and has in every way the right to acquire, it becomes desirable, at this point, to say what are the practical and higher aims of this calling of ours.
Setting aside the ordinary duties, or features, of our daily routine, such as the auditing of accounts, preparation of financial statements, investigation of suspected frauds with the provision of counter checks, the institution of economies in office routine, the inauguration of cost processes, and so forth, it is still necessary for the ambitious practitioner to fully realize that he is, and always will be, a student as to matters that are classed as of the “law merchant," with the innumerable phases of business life covered by this term; also, he should have at his command the wherewith to support himself with commercial precedents by judicial process.
It is far from a comprehensive view of the goal to be attained to say that we are, as a class, possessed of “special knowledge, beyond mere skill,” in computations of commercial figures, or can trail the devious ways of the defaulter, exemplify the modus operandi of peculation, solve an arithmetical conundrum or demonstrate our ability as expert scriveners.
Occasions arise that call for special service in affairs that are so closely identified with, and contingent upon, the recorded conditions of a business that it is necessary to employ a specialist whose work is both of a synthetical and analytical character, always with the main purpose of the particular proposition before him, and with a trained mind for the arrangement of detail in thorough harmony with the purpose and the facts, whether of a financial nature or for the preparation of exhibits and testimony for the use of attorneys-at-law.
In his relations to capitalists contemplating the purchase or consolidation of established industries the accountant's examination should precede the drafting of any prospectus of a proposed enterprise, and his certificate of conditions briefly expressed should be embodied therein. His duties in this connection are as to stated present conditions, and facts as to past operations for a period of time. They are distinct and should at all times be kept separate from those of engineers and appraisers, in order that those interested may obtain a full corroboration of conditions and prospects.
It not infrequently occurs that the accountant engaged upon