What is your price?

(Cross-post from my other blog, Attestation Update.)

We know the price Mr. Scott London, former partner of KPMG,  is accused of setting for his integrity, honor, and reputation. The entrance price tag was several thousand dollars and added up to under $100,000.

Cumulative amount is allegedly $50,000 cash plus a watch with claimed value of $12,000 plus some concert tickets for his family, with asserted total around $70,000 or $90,000.

That total allegation isn’t the real measure of his price. The starting point was a few thousand dollars in the first deal. If the story outlined in the criminal indictment is correct, that is the point his integrity was sold.

An old joke about your price

There is an old joke with many variations that goes something like this:

Man to woman in a social setting: “would you sleep with me for a million dollars?”

She indicated she would be willing to do so.

Him: “How about for $20?”

With great indignation, she said “Of course not! What kind of woman do you think I am?”

Him: “We’ve already established that. Now we are just haggling over price.”

The story is told with a variety of famous men as the inquirer and usually an anonymous woman. Quote Investigator finds the earliest version of the story in print back in 1937 which puts its first appearance well before the various people to whom it is usually attributed.

The point stands.

What is the price of your integrity?

It’s a scary question.

One person tested his price point

At some point in my career as auditor the CEO of one of my clients, a rather cynical fellow, said that he knew the price of his integrity was above a certain cutoff. He insisted that everybody had a price at which they would compromise their integrity, but most people hadn’t been in a situation in which they’d found out the amount.

He indicated he was able to test his price at one point in the past.

There was a situation in which he could have stolen a substantial amount of money and was absolutely certain he knew he could get away without detection and there would be not be any trail. I’m not sure the circumstance, but think we are talking about something like piles of cash sitting on a table with no accountability for the amount.

He walked away from the opportunity. Thus, from his perspective he knows the price of his integrity is higher that the amount of cash involved in that circumstance.

Let’s set aside our knowledge of the fraud triangle, especially the idea that severe pressures could change the price point.

His story has stayed with me for a long time.

So here’s the question for you:

At what entrance price point would you compromise your integrity and risk your entire future?

What’s the price would you set for the first step?

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