Nearly three quarters of finance directors surveyed for this week's Accountancy Age Big Question, conducted by Reed Accountancy Personnel, said the public still trusted and respected the accountancy profession. The findings of the survey suggest that despite multi-million pound scandals over the last five years, those working in the profession do not believe it has been damaged. Fears that accountancy's image was being tarnished partly prompted the creation of an independent regulatory body, the Foundation. Many finance directors said cases such as Maxwell - whose auditor Coopers & Lybrand was given a £3.5m penalty earlier this year by the profession's regulator, the JDS - were worrying but isolated incidents. 'A few high-profile cases of misconduct or negligence do not mean accountants are distrusted by the public,' said Stuart Chapman, director of finance for international education organisation, International Baccalaureate. Another FD, who asked to remain anonymous, said the public trusted accountants - but only reluctantly. 'Most of the public view accountants as a necessary evil,' he said. But some 14% of FDs believed accountants had lost the public's trust. Many, however, thought that other professions had also suffered a loss of respect. 'This is part of the cynicism about all professionals, such as lawyers and doctors,' said one FD.
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