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Accounting and finance professionals’ perception on the current state of the accountancy profession in South Africa.

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Background: Accountants, auditors, and other finance professionals have traditionally been well respected and held in high regard by the public. They are regarded as financial reporting overseers because they are responsible for ensuring that organisations follow relevant regulations and financial laws. Globally, accounting and finance professions have been tarnished by scandals involving intentional manipulation of financial information. The professional ethics of finance professionals are under scrutiny by the concerned public at large. The importance of ethics to accounting professionals stems from the need to make ethical decisions on a regular basis. This study is informed by the repercussions of these scandals and how they have influenced the public view of the profession. Purpose and method: The study investigates how South African accounting and finance professionals perceive their ethical knowledge, compatriots’ ethical responsibility and the role of the professional bodies in maintaining ethical responsibility. The study adopted a quantitative approach using systematic sampling. The population of the study comprises 165 accounting and finance professionals at government, corporate institutions and audit firms. An anonymous online questionnaire was the instrument used for the collection of data. Main Finding: The study found that the majority of accountants and finance professionals agree in general that they perceive themselves to have a strong knowledge of ethics. They also perceive their fellow accounting and finance professionals to be ethically responsible. It also found that being a member of professional accounting bodies also influences on the ethical behaviour and professional conduct of accounting and finance professionals. The majority of accountants and finance professionals agree in general that they face a considerable amount of pressure to compromise on ethics Conclusion: The current level of ethical knowledge of accounting and finance professionals must be maintained and improved upon via training programmes such as the continuous professional development programme. Improved knowledge of ethics can reduce perceived pressures to compromise on ethics among accounting and finance professionals. Based on this contribution, this study further concluded that accounting and finance professionals should improve their ethical knowledge in order to reduce their perceived pressures to compromise on ethics.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.