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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS Presented by: Chuck Cochran, CFE Sponsored by: San Diego Chapter-ACFE.

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Presentation on theme: "PROFESSIONAL ETHICS Presented by: Chuck Cochran, CFE Sponsored by: San Diego Chapter-ACFE."— Presentation transcript:

1 PROFESSIONAL ETHICS Presented by: Chuck Cochran, CFE Sponsored by: San Diego Chapter-ACFE

2 About Your Presenter; That’s Me! Licensed Private Investigator since 1982 Certified Fraud Examiner since 1993 Researching, studying and instructing in ethics since 1992 Office Phone: 619-691-6379 E-mail:

3 Don’t Worry, I Have a Plan Understanding the characteristics of a profession and a professional Examine the need for professional ethics Examine the General and the Specific models of professional ethical codes Clarify the elements required for a professional ethical code The Quest: Seeking the perfect code of professional ethics

4 LET’S START AT THE BEGINNING Understanding the Characteristics of Professions and Professionals

5 Tradition! Traditionally, there are only three recognized professions Law, medicine, and the clergy These are the only professions with a legally recognized privileged relationship with clients, patients, and penitents This concept of privilege sets attorneys, doctors, and clergy apart from other “professions” What about the rest of us?

6 I’m a Professional and You’re Not! A number of occupations desire recognition as a profession Designation as a profession denotes a certain amount of trust and prestige There is a desire to limit the number of professions to maintain exclusivity and prestige How do we separate professions from vocations?

7 Characteristics of a Profession Has a recognized body of specialized knowledge Requires members to demonstrate mastery of that body of knowledge Provides an important service to society Services are primarily “white collar” as opposed to “blue collar” Bound by a distinctive code of conduct; i.e. ethics

8 Wait! Something’s Missing Continuing professional education (CPE) traditionally has not been a characteristic of a profession The introduction of a CPE requirement for professionals created some resistance More and more professions are requiring CPE credits for their members

9 I’m a Professional, Yes I am! You might be a professional IF You have mastered the knowledge of your profession You have demonstrated that mastery in the appropriate manner You maintain that mastery through continuing professional education You abide by your professions code of ethics

10 TRUST ME, I’M A PROFESSIONAL The Need for Professional Ethics

11 Reasons for Professional Ethics Unethical professional conduct can cause more harm to society than most other occupations Communicates the ethical viewpoint of the profession to society Promotes the values of the profession over personal, societal, or institutional values Don’t forget, society expects a profession to have a code of ethics

12 What do We Get Out of It? Provides guidance on ethical questions that arise during the course of professional activity Defines relationships with clients, colleagues, and the public Provides you with a degree of credibility as a member of the profession Offers you a defensible position for your decisions

13 THAT WHICH GOVERNS LEAST, GOVERNS BEST The General Model for Professional Ethics

14 Short, Sweet and to the Point? The general model provides broad ethical guidelines for the professional and is easy to write This broad approach makes it possible to cover a wide range of situations This brevity limits guidance for proper action in specific situations Additional guidelines may be required to clarify what constitutes an ethical violation

15 Examples of a General Model Association of Certified Fraud Examiners - Code of Ethics California Association of Licensed Investigators - Code of Ethics American Academy of Forensic Sciences - Code of Ethics and Conduct

16 THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS The Specific Model for Professional Ethics

17 Chapter and Verse The specific model is characterized by detailed language that attempts to cover ethical decisions for a variety of circumstances However, unusual circumstances may present difficulties in the application of the code. A possible solution is to provide introductory paragraphs to the code written in more general language

18 Writing Chapter and Verse One of the biggest problems with the specific model is the long and difficult writing process Preparation of a specific code requires a clear understanding of the duties and responsibilities of the profession A wide range of professional experience is vital in the preparation of a specific code Finally, specific codes are difficult to revise

19 Examples of Specific Models American Bar Association’s Model Rules for Professional Conduct American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Code of Professional Conduct Code of Professional Conduct, Standards and Ethics for the Investigative Profession, by Kitty Hailey

20 SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED Elements of a Professional Code of Ethics

21 Putting Your Code Together A code of ethics must derive from mutual agreement A code of ethics must be written A code of ethics must have some form of dispute resolution

22 Let’s All Agree to be Good Why mutual agreement? No one can be forced to abide by a code of ethics Adherence to an ethical code maybe required to maintain employment, professional standing, or group membership Ethical codes receive authority and acceptance by consent of those governed

23 Put it in Writing To be effective, an ethical code must be written Unwritten codes lead to ambiguity, confusion and possible abuse A written code clarifies and defines the behavior expected of a professional A written code provides transparency and increases confidence in the profession

24 Resolving Disputes A critical part of a code of ethics is a process for resolving allegations of ethical violations There must be a clear procedure for receiving and investigating all allegations A process for a hearing that allows the participation of all interested parties is essential A review of the investigation and the hearing is needed to determine the validity of the complaint An appeals process must be available if a violation did occur

25 Actions Have Consequences If an ethical violation has been found, sanctions are necessary to maintain the validity of the code of ethics The code of ethics must clearly state what sanctions may be imposed and under what circumstances Sanctions may include reprimand, suspension, or expulsion Serious violations may be referred to legal authorities for prosecution or other legal sanctions

26 Public or Private? The question about whether to make any part of the dispute process public is a difficult one A lack of openness may damage public confidence in the profession Going public may inhibit colleagues from making complaints for fear of repercussions from other colleagues There may be a desire not to embarrass a colleague over a trivial, but not insignificant, violation

27 Go Public, Go to Court? Going public with a dispute may involve the organization in a lawsuit Generally, courts are reluctant to interfere with matters of internal discipline However, the possibility of legal action by a professional colleague facing disciplinary actions can’t be ignored An important part of a legal defense is a fair and objective process to resolve all allegations

28 Final Note on Privacy Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. Benjamin Franklin

29 THE SHINING CITY ON A HILL The Quest for a Perfect Code of Professional Ethics

30 Ain’t Going to Happen There will never be a “perfect” code of professional ethics Regardless of the care, effort, and thought put into the development of a professional code, there will be critics Some criticism will be thoughtful and constructive and should be given serious consideration Other criticism will appear to have no purpose other than to belittle the effort and effectiveness of the code

31 Give It the Old College Try! Focus on creating a “more perfect” code of ethics Regardless of the model used for the code, the language should be clear and concise Authors of the code should have a wide range of experience in the profession Should be periodic reviews and revisions of the code for clarifications and adaption to changing technology

32 A Final Thought Never, never, never give up. Winston Churchill

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