Compliance » Is the Audit and Advisory Industry Ethically Challenged?

Is the Audit and Advisory Industry Ethically Challenged?


August 26, 2022

Two big audit and advisory firms have been sanctioned and fined by the SEC for cheating on ethics exams. Writing in the FCPA Blog, Caterina Bulgarella and Azish Filabi wonder whether their conduct suggests a broader ethical challenge in the industry resting on certain common dynamics. Audit professionals operate from a moral high ground based on their role that may have the paradoxical effect of fostering ethical complacency, and a sense of hubris in respect to ethical expertise. Yet hubris reduces moral attentiveness, increasing the risk of unethical conduct. When ethical concerns are downplayed, both junior employees and leaders are at risk of normalizing misbehavior in unforeseeable ways. Minor blind spots can evolve over time into a cultural pattern of willingness to take shortcuts across all levels of the organization.

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