ACC440 Unit 3 Discussion - Arvel Smart, Accounting Major
Unit 3 DB: Arvel Smart, Accounting Major (ACC440 Auditing)
This brief case involves an ethical issue that many future accounting graduates have faced in recent years. Internship programs are an important facet of the recruiting efforts of large accounting firms. Those accounting firms typically offer internships to students that they hope to hire on a permanent basis when they graduate. Accounting majors enrolled in five-year accounting programs may have an opportunity to take two internships before they graduate. In this case, Arvel Smart served an internship with a Big Four accounting firm during the summer between his third and fourth years in a five-year accounting program. By the end of his fourth year of college, Arvel had decided to accept the job offer that firm had given him at the conclusion of his internship. But, Arvel delayed accepting the job offer so that he could take a second internship with another firm during the summer between his fourth and fifth years in college. The key issue in this case is whether Arvel acted unethically by accepting the second internship when he ultimately intended to accept the offer for a permanent position that he had received as a result of his first internship.
Arvel Smart, Accounting Major
Arvel Ray Smart was born in Lebanon, Missouri, and grew up in the small town of Bolivar, 40 miles west of Lebanon in southeastern Missouri. Arvel’s mother and father graduated from the University of Missouri with accounting degrees in the mid- 1970s. The Smarts spent three years working on the tax staff of a Big Eight practice office in Kansas City before deciding to establish their own accounting firm in Bolivar. Arvel helped out in his parents’ office during high school, especially when they were facing tax deadlines. He enjoyed the work, which is why he decided to major in accounting when he enrolled at the University of Missouri following graduation from high school Arvel realized that he would most likely have the opportunity to take over his parents’ accounting firm when they retired. His only sibling, an older sister, was a performing arts major at Washington University in St. Louis and had no interest in becoming involved in the family business.
During his junior year at Mizzou, Arvel was admitted into the five- year program in the School of Accountancy. After completing the 150- hour program, Arvel would receive Bachelor of Science and Master of Accountancy degrees. After completing his junior year, Arvel accepted an internship with a Big Four practice office in Kansas City. Because he wanted to gain a better understanding of auditing, Arvel chose to intern on the audit staff of that office. Arvel was surprised by the number of interesting assignments he was given that summer. In fact, by the end of the summer he was reconsidering the decision he had made earlier to choose the tax track of Mizzou’s five- year accounting program.
On the final day of Arvel’s internship, the office managing partner met with him and offered him an entry level auditing position. Arvel thanked the partner for the job offer and told him that he would seriously consider accepting it. He explained to the partner that he had not made a final decision about whether to focus on auditing or taxation early in his career. The partner was very understanding and told Arvel that he had plenty of time to make up his mind and then added that the job offer would remain open for twelve months, until the end of the following summer.
Arvel enrolled in the undergraduate auditing course during the spring semester of his fourth year in college. He enjoyed the course so much that he made up his mind to begin his career as an auditor and to accept the job offer from the firm with which he had interned the previous summer. He planned to delay accepting that offer, how-ever, until the end of the summer. Arvel’s girlfriend, who was also an accounting major at Mizzou, had accepted an offer for a summer internship with a Big Four practice office in St. Louis. Arvel was hoping to spend the summer in St. Louis, so he had interviewed earlier in the year with two regional accounting firms based in that city. Both of the firms had offered him an internship.
During the final week of the spring semester of his fourth year, Arvel accepted an internship offer from one of the two St. Louis- based accounting firms. Arvel realized that both regional and national accounting firms use internships as a tool to recruit permanent employees and that they typically offer internships to students whom they believe have an interest in eventually accepting a permanent position with them. That realization caused Arvel to experience some degree of guilt when he called and accepted the internship with the St. Louis firm. He quickly cleared his guilty con-science by convincing himself that there was some remote chance he would change his mind and accept a job with the St. Louis accounting firm. In fact, in Arvel’s mind, that firm had a responsibility to prove to him that it offered more opportunities than the Big Four accounting firm from which he had already received a job offer.
1. Before interviewing with the two St. Louis accounting firms, did Arvel have an obligation to inform them that he had an outstanding job offer from a Big Four practice office in Kansas City? Why or why not?
2. Did Arvel Smart behave unethically by accepting the internship with the St. Louis accounting firm when he intended to accept the outstanding job offer from the Big Four accounting firm at the completion of that internship? Defend your answer.