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Ethics and professional scepticism FAQs

Frequently asked questions about ethics and professional scepticism.

What is ethics and professional scepticism and what do I have to do?

Ethics is more than just knowing the rules around confidentiality, integrity, objectivity and independence. It’s about identifying ethical dilemmas, understanding the implications and behaving appropriately. We integrate ethics throughout the ACA qualification to develop your ethical capabilities – so you’ll always know how to make the right decisions and justify them.

Ethics is examined in context with all modules of the ACA.

During your ACA training, you are also required to complete an online Ethics Learning Programme, a devolved assessment (with a target score of 70%) and discuss your ethics progress with your employer or principal at each six-monthly review.

What is the online Ethics Learning Programme?

The online learning programme is based on the ICAEW Code of Ethics, to help you get to grips with our ethical framework and practice how you would respond to an ethical situation. The programme includes the following six modules:

  • Introduction to ICAEW Code of Ethics
  • The fundamental ethical principles
  • Threats and safeguards to the fundamental ethical principles
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Considerations for professional accountants in practice
  • Considerations for professional accountants in business.

Once you have worked your way through each of the six modules (and the accompanying Practising Ethics webinars), you will need to complete a devolved assessment.

Remember to obtain approval from your employer or principal to attempt the devolved assessment.

What is the devolved assessment?

This is a test to assess your knowledge of ethics and your progress through the online Ethics Learning Programme. Here are the key things you need to know about the assessment:

  • you’ll need to complete it online;
  • it is 60 minutes long and includes 30 multiple choice questions;
  • the target score is 70%;
  • you will have an unlimited number of attempts; and
  • each of your attempts will be recorded within the ethics and professional scepticism tab on your online training file.

Remember to obtain approval from your employer or principal to attempt the devolved assessment.

What are the Practising Ethics webinars?

We have developed a series of webinars, Practising Ethics, for you to watch on demand. After you complete each module in the Ethics Learning Programme, make sure you download the accompanying webinar to recap what you have learned. Each webinar contains three brief scenarios for you to consider and decide a course of action.

Remember to make notes as you will be asked to present your findings on at least one scenario at every six-monthly review.

How do I record my ethics progress?

Within your online training file there is an ethics and processional scepticism tab, here you can access the Ethics Learning Programme, ICAEW Code of Ethics and Practising Ethics webinars. Learn about ethics and professional scepticism by working your way through the programme and practise what you have learned using the Practising Ethics webinars. With your employer’s or principal’s consent, attempt the ethics assessment. All your assessment attempts will be recorded here. You can use the ‘Add ethics review’ button at the bottom to record your progress.

How do I prepare for my six-monthly review?

Before each six-monthly review, add your progress on the Ethics Learning Programme, devolved assessment and the ethical elements within professional development in your online training file. This will form the basis of discussion within the review. You should also discuss a real ethical situation and a scenario from the Practising Ethics webinars.

Remember to obtain approval from your employer or principal to attempt the devolved assessment.

What is discussed at my six-monthly review?

During your six-monthly review with your employer or principal, you will discuss your ethics and professional scepticism progress (along with your professional development, practical work experience and exams progress).

You will also discuss at least one scenario from the Practising Ethics webinars and a real ethical situation. You can find real ethical examples in the press. Your employer or principal may also have an example to discuss. Just bear in mind that the examples must be relevant, real and could impact you at work, so the discussion is preparing your for your career, in case you face a similar situation in the future.

How often should I record my ethics progress?

You should record your progress regularly – and discuss your ethics and professional scepticism progress (along with your professional development, practical work experience and exams progress) at your six-monthly reviews with your employer or principal. You must make sure that you have all your records up to date and your progress is agreed with your employer or principal.

Do I or my employer sign off my ethics progress?

At the end of your training agreement you will need to have completed the ethics and professional scepticism requirement of the ACA. Your employer or principal will sign off your online training file. This confirms that you are ethically sound and have a strong understanding of the ICAEW Code of Ethics.

What happens if I don’t complete the ethics requirement of the ACA before the end of my training agreement? Can I complete it at a later date?

You must complete the ethics and professional scepticism requirement of the ACA during your training agreement period. At the end of your training agreement your employer or principal will sign off your online training file. This confirms that you are ethically sound and have a strong understanding of the ICAEW Code of Ethics.

It is important that ethics is discussed with your employer or principal at each six-monthly review. This ensures that all aspects of the ACA are monitored and completed in a timely manner.

I’m following the Structured Training in Ethics programme. What do I need to do?

If you started your ACA training agreement before July 2013 and you are following the Structured Training in Ethics (STE) requirements, there are three stages of this programme to complete. You should also provide your employer with evidence of your work stage by stage for sign off .

To complete the STE requirement, please complete your STE sign off process by downloading the STE declaration form. If you have entered information in to the online sign off process up to 1 July 2015, this will be captured and saved. However, if you still have STE stages to complete after 1 July 2015, please submit this information using the STE declaration form only.

If you cannot access the STE online sign off process or your training agreement has expired, please download the STE declaration form in hard copy.