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Why is ethics important for chartered accountants?

Written by: ICAEW Jobs
Published on: 1 Nov 2023


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As a Chartered Accountant, upholding ethical standards is not just important; it's fundamental to your role. You are entrusted with compiling accurate financial information for clients and businesses while maintaining the public's trust.

Whether you're considering changing sectors or seeking a new position, it's crucial that your work reflects you as a trustworthy and ethical chartered accountant. Equally important is ensuring that your prospective employer places a strong emphasis on ethics and integrity within their corporate culture.

In this article, we'll delve into the importance of ethics for qualified chartered accounting professionals.

Why is serving the public interest such a core part of being a chartered accountant?

Serving the public interest is a core aspect of a chartered accountant's role, ensuring that trust is established between you and your clients.

It’s important that the public has confidence that ICAEW’s Code of Ethics is applied ethically within the work that a chartered accountant does.

The five fundamental principles that make up The Code include:

  • Integrity
  • Objectivity
  • Professional competence and due care
  • Confidentiality
  • Professional behaviour

The Code states that: ‘A distinguishing mark of the accountancy profession is its acceptance of the responsibility to act in the public interest’. Therefore, it's important that the Code is upheld in a manner that instils confidence in the public, assuring them of ethical decision-making.

How important is it to be ethical and operate with integrity?

Integrity is one of the five fundamental principles that make up the ICAEW Code of Ethics.

It necessitates not only honesty and straightforwardness with all professional and business relationships but also means that, as an ICAEW Member, you should not be associated with any misleading information.

Promoting ethics as a chartered accountant demonstrates accountability and transparency. This trust is pivotal for nurturing relationships with the people you work with, and it shows to your employer that you are a professional and ethical chartered accountant.

Regular ethics training equips you with the resources and tools to make better-informed decisions for clients and businesses, thereby safeguarding the profession's reputation.

How does adhering to the ICAEW Code of Ethics make me more employable?

Adhering to the ICAEW Code of Ethics will show future employers that you are a chartered accountant who operates ethically and with integrity.

It will also demonstrate your competence and confidence when making every day ethical decisions while working either in an accounting practice or within a specific sector. ICAEW offers the free ICAEW Ethics CPD Course to help you expand your knowledge of ethics, enabling you to make decisions that benefit stakeholders and clients.

Why is it important to me that ICAEW is working to rebuild trust in the profession?

In recent years, there’s been a major decline in the level of trust in society. At ICAEW, we play a pivotal role in ensuring that both individuals and businesses trust the work of the profession.  The revised CPD Regulations state one hour of your verifiable CPD each year must be on ethics.

A joint report, conducted by Edelman and Chartered Accountants Worldwide found that trust in chartered accountants has increased to 85%, despite ongoing economic uncertainty, positioning them trustworthy as nurses.  Business leaders are placing more emphasis on the profession to go beyond their role by providing advice and guidance around resilience, ethics, technology, AI and much more.

Against a backdrop of intense scrutiny of the accountancy profession and increased regulatory expectations, ICAEW has revised its CPD Regulations. The changes give greater clarity on the amount of CPD that you should be doing to ensure you have up-to-date professional, technical, and business skills.

The 2023 CPD Ethics requirements explained

From 1 November 2023, for those affected by the revised CPD Regulations, at least one hour of your verifiable CPD each year must be on ethics. ICAEW has created a free ethics CPD course to help you comply with the new CPD Regulations, equipping you with the knowledge and confidence to demonstrate high standards of ethical conduct in your professional role.

Verifiable hours gained from the course will count towards your overall verifiable CPD hours requirement. The ethics course provides up to 12 verifiable hours of CPD, meaning that if you choose to complete more than one hour of verifiable CPD on ethics in any given CPD year the extra hours will count towards your overall number of verifiable CPD hours.

ICAEW Jobs can help you understand your CPD requirements

Ethics in chartered accounting is continually evolving. Ethical behaviour in handling financial information and data, as well as making decisions is crucial to building trust and integrity with clients, stakeholders, and investors as a chartered accountant.

Explore our CPD self-assessment tool and structured learning solutions through the ICAEW Academy, offering world-leading content and valuable advice for your career development.

Planning to make the next step in your chartered accountancy career? ICAEW Jobs can help you find your dream job. You can find out more about the latest job opportunities and careers advice on the ICAEW Jobs website today.