Sleeping with Your Decisions as a CPA

By Charles Hall | Accounting and Auditing

Aug 21

Men are alike in their promises. It is only in their deeds that they differ. Molière

We’ve all been there.

Your client wants you to sign off on an issue, one that is in the land of gray–you know, that place where there is no black or white. And, of course, the issue has significant dollars attached to it, so it’s important.

Your anguish rises, so you try to see the Great Oz, but he’s not available. No trips to Kansas today.

You want to do the right thing, but what is it?

Sleeping with Your Decisions as a CPA

Picture courtesy of AdobeStock.com

Four Questions for Clarity

Here are four questions to ask:

  1. How would I feel if my choice was placed on the front-page of the local newspaper (or in the Journal of Accountancy)?
  2. What would my father do (or anyone else I greatly respect)?
  3. What would I advise my child to do? (If your child is three, pretend she is thirty.)
  4. What’s the worst thing that could happen

Four Actions for Clarity

Here are four actions to take:

  1. Call the AICPA Ethics Hotline or the AICPA Technical Hotline (877-242-7212). (They are independent of the issue, so they will give you a straight-up answer.)
  2. Call a CPA with knowledge in the area of concern, and ask his or her opinion.
  3. Create a memo supporting your proposed decision, and share it with a partner, quality control department, or whoever is in charge. (I find that writing creates clarity.)
  4. Sit on it (if you can). I gain clarity as I allow the issue to percolate, and as I pray about it. I try not to make a high-stakes decision quickly. A hurried decision is usually a poor one.

Sleeping Well

Remember, a clear conscience is a precious commodity. If you believe a particular course of action is going to keep you awake at night, then your conscience is speaking to you.

Do the right thing and sleep well. Good evening.

Learn from the CPA Scribo newsletter!

Get my free weekly accounting and auditing digest with the latest content.

Powered by ConvertKit
Follow

About the Author

Charles Hall is a practicing CPA and Certified Fraud Examiner. For the last thirty years, he has primarily audited governments, nonprofits, and small businesses.He is the author of The Little Book of Local Government Fraud Prevention and Preparation of Financial Statements & Compilation Engagements. He frequently speaks at continuing education events.Charles is the quality control partner for McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co. where he provides daily audit and accounting assistance to over 65 CPAs. In addition, he consults with other CPA firms, assisting them with auditing and accounting issues.

  • armando balbin says:

    I usually follow the three last actions. I follow the first one when still in a technical interpretation doubt. It depends on the specifics of the situation. I keep in mind that the profession comes first, the business side comes after, and it paid off. I have had situations that if I had allowed to be influenced in taking the wrong decision it would have cost me an expensive price.

  • Ching-Ming Liu says:

    I prefer the fourth action. The more detailed analysis and thinking process, the better result may come out. We always have to think about responsibility and conscience we may face in deep of our heart forever. I also love and enjoy that “sleeping well”.

    • Charles B. Hall says:

      Thank you for your comment Ching-Ming. We surely must live with our decisions and our conscience. I too love a good nights sleep.

  • Philip says:

    Sit on important decisions and work overnight and let your brain sift through things.

  • >
    91 Shares
    Share85
    Share5
    Tweet1
    Email






    close

    CPA Scribo


    Sign up for my

    free newsletter

    Charles Hall
    • check-square-o
      Be more efficient and effective in delivering accounting services
    • check-square-o
      Be in the know regarding accounting and auditing standards
    • check-square-o
      Receive powerful technology tips 
    envelope-open-o