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Boosting investors’ level of confidence via acting in the public interest: The accountants’ perspective

Boosting investors’ level of confidence via acting in the public interest: The accountants’ perspective

By Kingsley Ndubueze Ayozie

While the yawning and calls for foreign direct investment (FDI) are increasing day by day as a possible option in revamping any ailing economy within the globe, there are increasing day by day as a possible option in revamping any ailing economy within the globe, there is a high level of expectation from us, the accountants, and by extension, the professional accountants, on the need to always act in the public interest, as this will go a long way in increasing the investors’ level of confidence, bearing in mind our divergent roles either as bookkeepers, financial or corporate reporters, and above all as audit and assurance providers, to mention but a few.

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In the same vein, there is an utmost level of expectation from the government in providing the needed enabling environment for businesses to thrive within the country. The onus lies on all the accountants who are seen to be the general custodians of an entity’s financial records and books to constantly live up to expectations by acting in the public interest, as this will in no small measure boost the investors’ level of confidence.

As a matter of fact, both the government and the accountants must work in synergy in order to boost the investors’ level of confidence, which will further attract FDI, which in turn will create jobs, reduce unemployment, boost government earnings, and revamp our economy where needed. The government’s core mandate is to provide an investor’-friendly policy alongside an enabling environment that will make these investments thrive and turn our dear country into an investment hub or destination, while reiterating the fact that the investors’ level of expectation from us as accountants and professional accountants must not be toiled with under any guise.

What is a critical question requesting an urgent answer?

By way of definition, public interest connotes showing concern for the societal well-being as a whole where such an individual lives or works against his own personal or selfish interests. In a nutshell, it simply summarises that the interest of the “public” should rank supreme or paramount far above that of the personal interest of the accountant.

The word ‘public’ being referred to here includes the government, investors, customers, employees, clients, vendors, financial institutions, employers, society at large, etc.

The burning question looking for an urgent answer revolves around how we, as accountants, can act in the public interest.

To ensure ethical conduct, several actions must be undertaken. These include engaging in whistleblowing, upholding the integrity of public information and records, and disclosing any conflicts of interest encountered. It is crucial to expose any criminal acts that may negatively impact society, avoid giving or receiving bribes, and protect public health and safety. Additionally, it is essential to abhor any form of falsification, manipulation, or alteration of accounting information and to vehemently oppose corruption. Members should comply strictly with the institute’s code of conduct. Moreover, the institute is expected to implement disciplinary measures to enforce ethical standards and sanction erring members.

There is no doubt that we, as accountants and, by extension, professional accountants, must at all times put the collective well-being of our society, state, organisation, or even the community where we live or work paramount and far above our personal desires or interests. This is a greater demand on us as professionals to always act in the public interest.

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Acting in public interest brings about some immeasurable benefits, such as: boosting the investors’ level of trust in doing business with us as a people; promoting the issue of FDI that will further open up more businesses, reduce job losses, and create employment opportunities within the country; promoting transparency and accountability in the business process; promoting social security and justice in the business environment; and also giving credence to investors’ sense of ownership of their business empires, etc.

Finally, I wish to charge all our regulators and professional associations, such as FRCN, ICAN, and ANAN, respectively, to collaborate and synergize in order to facilitate an effective and efficient financial and corporate reporting mechanism within the country, as this holds the ultimate key to increasing investors’ levels of confidence and, at the same time, plays a pivotal role in attracting the much-talked-about FDI into the country.

 

Kingsley Ndubueze Ayozie FCTI, FCA, a Public Affairs analyst cum Chartered Accountant by profession, writes from Lagos.