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Ethics, morals and making a difference

In his first ‘view from…’ IMS Deputy President, Paul Richards, looks back on a recent event for younger members and considers the place of ethics in the profession and beyond.

"Paul
I recently attended an event led by an ICAEW member who is also an MSP; Kate Forbes. Kate led an inspired evening detailing her background and how she came to be an MSP and talked about the value of her ACA qualification in her political role.

For me, personally, her first few statements on integrity resonated with my own views – and perhaps those of other attendees – that our profession is uniquely defined by the idea that when it comes to integrity "we stand or fall" by it.

Kate’s career path…

Delegates heard about Kate's early years in India through to her university days at Cambridge, as well as her personal motivations and the beliefs that have ultimately resulted in her in pursuing a career in politics.

For us all, whether we are still studying for our qualification or are experienced accountancy veterans, a common challenge that we face is finding the drive and motivation to solve a new problem or just to keep at the current day job. Kate touched on this and gave a personal insight in how she, still in her twenties, overcame major hurdles in initial nomination and through to winning her seat in the last election.

Values that matter

Kate explained that she felt that the ACA qualification demonstrates four key outcomes:

  1. Determination and commitment
  2. Courage
  3. An interest in people's stories
  4. Knowledge

She added that she felt that all four outcomes had strong ties to ethics and values.

A matter of trust

Kate explained that she always mentioned her accountancy qualification in her election campaign leaflets – perhaps it's the three letters "ACA" rather than "MSP" that make the electorate trust her!

The juicy back pages of economia, detailing recent indiscretions and the resulting disciplinary outcomes, shows how we as chartered accountants are compelled to work within defined ethic and professional codes. I can’t help but wonder, are politicians pulled up for equivalent (or even worse) unethical actions?

Exploring Parliament

Kate, acting as our tour guide, showed us around the Scottish Parliament building, highlighting key design elements and talking about what they represent. She explained that certain features are intended to remind the MSPs of the importance of democracy and people in the chamber.

A final thought…

Our profession clearly defines the importance of ethics and morals – we face being struck off for any indiscretions. Whereas in politics, some might argue that they could come second to personal ambition. Perhaps governments – not just in the UK – should look at ways of enshrining morals and ethics into the remit of every elected representative, with only those upholding the required values being able to remain in office.

Some thoughts for us all to consider – perhaps we should spend a bit longer trying to better understand our local politicians and consider how they demonstrate values that other professions require from its members.

Paul Richards
Deputy President, ICAEW Members in Scotland (IMS)
October 2017
E pauledwardrichards@gmail.com

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