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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 within all ACA exams.

During your ACA training, you are also required to complete an online Ethics Learning Programme, an assessment and discuss your ethics progress with your employer or principal at each six-monthly review. Please note that you must achieve 70% or more at the ethics assessment.

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 the ethics assessment.

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

Please note that from 1 January 2019, all ACA students must achieve a minimum of 70% within the ethics assessment. By achieving this, you are demonstrating a strong understanding of ethics. This means, that at the end of your training agreement, you will only be able to submit your training file for final sign off when you have achieved 70% or more at the assessment (and completed all elements of the ACA). If your score is below this, a message will appear within your training file to advise you that 70% or more is required. 

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;
  • you must achieve a minimum of 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 assessment.

What are the Practising Ethics webinars?

 

We have developed a series of webinars called Practising Ethics. They are available for you to watch on demand. When you complete a module within 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.

Please note that you will need to achieve 70% or more at the ethics assessment.

How do I prepare for my six-monthly review?

Before each six-monthly review, add your progress on the Ethics Learning Programme, assessment and the ethical elements within professional development to 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 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.

Please note that from 1 January 2019, all ACA students must achieve a minimum of 70% within the ethics assessment. By achieving this, you are demonstrating a strong understanding of ethics. This means, that at the end of your training agreement, you will only be able to submit your training file for final sign off when you have achieved 70% or more at the assessment (and completed all elements of the ACA). If your score is below this, a message will appear within your training file to advise you that 70% or more is required. 

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.

From 1 January 2019, all ACA students must achieve a minimum of 70% within the ethics assessment. If at the time of submitting your online training file for final sign off, your score is below this, a message will appear within your training file to advise you that 70% or more is required.

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.