Page 1 Locker Room Talk Ethical Case April 18, 2010 Page 2 The Locker Room Talk Ethical Case outlines a situation that is an ethical dilemma for CPA Albert Gable who has performed personal financial planning for Larry and Susan Wilson. The Wilson’s, in their discussions with Mr. Gable regarding their personal finances, mentioned that in the past they have had marriage problems but have worked through the problems and are not seeking a divorce. Gable and the Wilson’s became personal friends due to the relationship built during their personal financial planning.
Mr. Gable also performs the annual audit for one of the largest banks in the town where they all live. The sample pulled for the audit at the bank included the Wilson’s loan information. While performing the audit, Mr. Gable discovers information on the Wilson’s loan that does not coincide with the information given to him during the personal financial planning. Mr. Gable is concerned and addresses the discrepancy with a loan officer but did not confide to the loan officer that he was also their personal financial planner. The loan officer confided in Mr.
Gable that Mr. Wilson was setting up his business to divorce his wife without any compensation. This situation puts Albert Gable in a situation with a conflict of interests. His personal financial client is also a client of the bank where he performs the annual audit. The information the Wilson’s provided to him during their personal financial planning conflicts with the information provided on loan documentation at the bank. Albert Gable needs to determine the best course of action to take in this situation. The Stakeholders
The stakeholders involved are: Page 3 1. Albert Gable – As the CPA, his professional business ethics are at risk and his personal reputation is on the line. He also has a large bonus weighing on his decision. 2. Mrs. Wilson – She has the understanding that her marriage is not at risk and the financial planning is for the benefit of her and her husband for their future. 3. Mr. Wilson – If he is not being honest with his wife and is planning on divorcing her, the information that Albert has uncovered during the audit could create problems for him. . The loan officer – the loan officer that shared Mr. Wilson’s personal information with Mr. Gable. 5. The bank – the relationship Mr. Gable had with the Wilson’s as personal financial planner was not disclosed to the bank and is a conflict of interest. Course of Action The best course of action that Mr. Gable should take is to meet with the Wilson’s and explain that he cannot continue with their personal financial planning. He should have them seek out another financial planning firm to complete their personal financial plans.
He should explain to them that he completes the annual audit for the bank and during the audit he discovered discrepancies with the loan information and the bank statements provided to him to prepare their personal finances and due to the discrepancies he feels it is necessary to remove himself as their personal planner. By removing himself as the Wilson’s personal financial planner, this eliminates the conflict of interest with the bank audit. By informing the Wilson’s they need to locate another Page 4 irm and cannot use the CPA firm he is partner with for financial planning removes all conflict business and personal and maintains business and personal ethics. Furthermore, he needs to notify the bank of the conflict with the Wilson account and that he will not be able to conduct an audit of their accounts due the relationship that was initially formed with the personal finance planning. By following the above steps he protects the clients, the bank and upholds his professionalism and his business ethics. Impact to Stakeholder The deontology approach was used to determine the course of action.
This approach to ethics emphasizes doing what one should do in accordance with rules, obligations and/or ethical principles of the profession. The impact of the decision could cost Mr. Gable the banks account but if he would have acknowledge upfront his knowledge of the Wilsons prior to beginning the audit on their loan documents the situation could have been diverted. He is also losing a client, the Wilson’s due to the bank audit and the review he completed of their loan documents. If he would have acknowledged to the bank and had the file removed from the audit all of this could have been avoided.
Mr. Gable will need to take the time and explain to his client the Wilson’s but he needs to keep it at a professional level and not discuss what was discovered only that it is conflict of interest. Conclusion Mr. Gable used poor judgment in his decision making process and has violated the ethic rules of the accounting profession. During the audit of the bank documentation he should have immediately notified the bank of the conflict with the Wilson file. He needed to be upfront with the bank and explain the Wilson’s were also a client of his for personal financial planning Page 5 nd have the file removed from the sample audit or bring in a third party to complete the audit on the Wilson documents. The loan officer should not have shared the personal information with Mr. Gable and Mr. Gable should have ended the conversation before it began. Sharing with the Wilson’s that discrepancies were noted between bank statements and loan documentation will allow the Wilson’s to clear up the discrepancies at the bank in regards to their accounts. Page 6 References Brooks, L. J. , 2007. Business & professional ethics for directors, executives & accountants (4th ed). Mason, OH: Thomas South-Western.