A timely report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the global body for professional accountants, points to the increasing need for businesses to work harder to spread responsibility for risk management across the entire organization.

The survey of over 2,000 ACCA members found accountants on the front-line of businesses have a vital role to play in successful risk management. Its release comes at a critical time for risk management in the wake of the financial crisis.

ACCA says:

Accounting is really about providing information to help make good decisions, and good decisions mean less risk. The accountant’s day-to-day role is all about managing risk, even if people don’t think about what they do in that way.”

However, the survey did reveal the value of accountant’s contributions can be lost through their misuse.

Accountants in the survey reported very high levels of bad behavior around risk management, including frequent ‘gaming’ of forecasts, providing optimistic versions to avoid criticism or pessimistic ones to reduce expectations.

Just 1 percent of respondents reported never seeing any of the bad behaviors asked about in the survey at their organization.

Still, the survey did find a statistical link between the use of good risk management practices by accountants and incidences of dysfunctional behavior: more good practices correspond with less dysfunctional behavior.

Types of good practice identified by ACCA include aspects of management accounting, forecasting, reporting and quality controls, decision support and controls over wrongful behavior.

ACCA notes:

Businesses need to make sure they use the risk awareness and risk management skills of their qualified accountants, and not miss an opportunity to effectively integrate risk management.”