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Conflict of interest

Conflict of interest


I run a small Accountancy practice which has one employee doing bookkeeping, my employee told me today that she has also started working for another local Accountancy firm on a self-employed basis doing bookkeeping. 

I now have concerns that this is a conflict of interest - what if one of the other Accountants clients changed to my practice or vice versa ... it could open up a whole can of worms which quite frankly I want to avoid.

As she is self employed for the other Accountant, if she also worked self employed for me would that make a difference to any potentital conflict of interest?

Do you have any advice please?

many thanks


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21st Dec 2012 13:48

Not good :(

Why does your employee think it is ok to work for a competitor, especially if they didn't mention anything before taking up the post?

Maybe I am old-fashioned but I think it is very disloyal of them and I would question where their priorities lie.

If they had been self-employed for you too, then I would be more understanding, but not with an employee working for a competitor. I wouldn't be at all happy :(

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21st Dec 2012 14:27

I agree with ShirleyM!

A similar situation happened with my book-keeper.  She was very efficient and worked for me on a part-time basis.  She then started working for another accountant 15 miles away.  I was not happy but as I couldn't offer her a full-time role I accepted it.  However, after just a couple of months I lost three clients to her other employer.  It appeared that she had 'mentioned' a few names and they were contacted and basically it came down to fees.

She is no longer working for me as I felt there was not only a conflict of interest but a breach of trust.  Sadly, I also lost a friend!

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By squay
21st Dec 2012 14:33

Time to Choose

I agree with ShirleyM. As she is employed do you not have anything in your terms of employment about working for someone else at the same time let alone a competitor? Lots of firms do.

You would be within your rights as an employer to ask to her to choose between her job with you and her self employed book-keeping. I would not let her do both so something would have to change. 

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21st Dec 2012 14:45

She has to choose

I agree with the other posters.  You need to make her choose between the two of you.  

I've used self employed book-keepers in the past who've worked for us and one or more other firms and it is definitely a potential conflict of interest.  It's bad enough for self employed, but when one of the "jobs" is an employed position, it's not acceptable.

Just imagine a situation where one of your clients is selling a business and one of their clients is looking to buy it.  Your staff may have access to both files and could very easily pass confidential information to whichever firm she preferred!

In a conflict of interest situation, it's not actually doing anything wrong that's the problem.  It's how it looks to the people involved and there'll always be a suspicion that one side has been preferred, whether it's happened or not.  It's got the potential to ruin the relationship between both firms and their clients.

Does your contract of employment not include a restriction that they don't have another job without your agreement, or a restriction on working for a competitor.  It certainly should have done.

I found myself in a conflict of interest position many years ago whilst I was a trainee.  In my first job I prepared the accounts of a members' association (under the Provident act).  Just after I finished it, I moved to another local firm as an audit assistant, and ended up being given my own work to do the statutory audit upon!  The committee were absolutely livid when they found out that they'd paid twice for the same person to effectively do the job twice!!

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By zebaa
21st Dec 2012 15:04


I think it depends on the employee and on your regard for her. In the past I have had an employee who did other work and that worked out okay. I think you have to set out some guidelines and keep the matter under review at regular intervals, but with that proviso I am quite content to disagree with the prior posters.

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21st Dec 2012 15:29

Your employment T&C's ...

At least 2 of the big 4 used to have T&C's expressly forbidding this also other matters such as having shares where they were the auditors of the co etc.

Also they laid claim to any ideas (IP) one had either at home or work whilst in their employ as well as anything you did outside work that may have benefitted them

Review your T&C's

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