Risk & Compliance

Honestly, Now

Accounting ethics Abraham Lincoln-style.
Leslie SchultzNovember 1, 2000

Have you ever been in the middle of an ethical dilemma at work and asked yourself, “I wonder what Abe Lincoln would have done?” Craig Gilbert has–often enough to have documented his thoughts in a course book entitled Honest Abe Teaches CPA Ethics.

Gilbert grew up in Springfield, Ill., in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln’s legacy. During his years as a practicing CPA, Gilbert began to see strong parallels between the Ameri-can Institute of Certified Public Ac- countants’s Code of Ethics and many of our 16th President’s fabled writings and speeches. As an example, Gilbert cites a speech Lincoln gave as a freshman representative in which he asked President Polk to answer concerns about the Mexican War “fully, fairly, and candidly. Those words, says Gilbert, “cover the CPA code of ethics in a nutshell.”

Gilbert’s book and course work ($59; from Front Row Systems Inc., of Atlanta) have recently received National Association of State Boards of Accountancy registration. Nancy Moate, CFO of World Marketing Alliance Inc., in Duluth, Ga., may be the first in line to apply for professional credit. Having recently completed Gilbert’s course, Moate often finds Abe’s adages popping up in her thoughts during her workday. “CPAs tend to get focused on technical issues in continuing education,” says Moate. “Lincoln’s words help you focus on personal responsibility. We’re losing our focus on that in this country.”

In the interest of honesty, Gilbert points out that he first “tried using the Bible for the course, but my knowledge of it was too weak.” Then, too, the prophets are such a tough act to follow.

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