You only need to review the news on any given day to find at least one story about a potential conflict of interest – from city officials being accused of voting to close a local airport in order to increase their personal property values, to financial advisors directing clients’ money into real estate owned by the advisor (without the client knowing of the financial relationship).
Definitions of the conduct, behavior, and circumstances that can create a conflict of interest abound in both government and business. Collectively, they generally cover—as businessdictionary.com puts it—“a situation that has the potential to undermine the impartiality of a person because of the possibility of a clash between the person’s self-interest and the professional or public interest.”
Why are conflicts of interest a problem?
Conflicts are a problem because they lead to questions about the impartiality, reliability, and confidence in the advice and service delivered to the client or customer, as well as creating the potential for more egregious and potentially illegal behavior.