The financial community must work hard to recover its integrity after recent high profile scandals, an expert has warned.
Ian Cornelius, from training consultancy FTC Kaplan, said affairs such as WorldCom and Enron had marred the profession and left many believing accountants were only interested in lining their own pockets.
"The vast majority of accountants do work to ethical codes, but a small number have shown they are prepared to be complient in abuse of the system," said Mr Cornelius, who addressed members of the Securities and Investment Institute in Birmingham.
Mr Cornelius's seminar emphasised the effect of corporate scandals such as Enron, WorldCom and Barings Bank, how they happened and whether they would happen again.
He said he was confident that measures taken by the US with Sarbanes-Oxley would help protect the rights of shareholders.
He also pointed out that the high-profile nature of the scams had encouraged the financial services communities both in the US and at home to demonstrate their integrity.
"I think we should be optimistic," he said. "Since Enron there has been a massive appetite for people to police themselves and demonstrate that they are ethically competent."