Accounting ethics is primarily a field of applied ethics and is part of business ethics and human ethics, the study of moral values and judgments as they apply to accountancy. It is an example of professional ethics. Accounting introduced by Luca Pacioli, and later expanded by government groups, professional organizations, and independent companies. Ethics are taught in accounting courses at higher education institutions as well as by companies training accountants and auditors.
Due to the diverse range of accounting services and recent corporate collapses, attention has been drawn to ethical standards accepted within the accounting profession. These collapses have resulted in a widespread disregard for the reputation of the accounting profession. To combat the criticism and prevent fraudulent accounting, various accounting organizations and governments have developed regulations and remedies for improved ethics among the accounting profession.
The nature of the work carried out by accountants and auditors requires a high level of ethics. Shareholders, potential shareholders, and other users of the financial statements rely heavily on the yearly financial statements of a company as they can use this information to make an informed decision about investment. They rely on the opinion of the accountants who prepared the statements, as well as the auditors that verified it, to present a true and fair view of the company. Knowledge of ethics can help accountants and auditors to overcome ethical dilemmas, allowing for the right choice that, although it may not benefit the company, will benefit the public who relies on the accountant/auditor's reporting.
Most countries have differing focuses on enforcing accounting laws. In Germany, accounting legislation is governed by "tax law"; in Sweden, by "accounting law"; and in the United Kingdom, by the "company law". In addition, countries have their own organizations which regulate accounting. For example, Sweden has the Bokföringsnämden (BFN - Accounting Standards Board), Spain the Instituto de Comtabilidad y Auditoria de Cuentas (ICAC), and the United States the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).