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ICAEW urges members to complete ethical survey

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 12 Aug 2021

The circumstances of the last 18 months have undoubtedly put accountants under huge amounts of pressure – but have the ethical issues they’ve faced stepped up a notch. Is there more that accountancy bodies including ICAEW could do to support them?

The Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB), an umbrella group for five UK accountancy bodies in the UK including ICAEW, is looking to explore views from accountants to identify underlying workplace cultures that may be encouraging behaviours that could be seen as unethical.

ICAEW alongside other CCAB members CIPFA, ACCA, ICAS and CAI is encouraging accountants to participate in a short and anonymous survey to take the ethical temperature of the accountancy profession over the last three years and as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ethical issues under the spotlight include the pressure accountants feel to distort information by being overly optimistic, omitting key factors, downplaying risks and altering income, expenditure, assets or liabilities to give an intended result. People may also come under pressure when making judgements, for example in relation to going concern, discount rates, impairment and revenue recognition.

The short survey takes no longer than 10 minutes to fill out and the deadline for responses is 29 August. ICAEW is urging members - across business, practice and public sector - to submit their views to help accountancy bodies address any areas where more support may be needed.

The UK and Irish professional bodies that make up the CCAB have Codes of Ethics all substantively based on the IESBA International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, against which members are held accountable. “As professional bodies, we play a role in supporting our members to do the right thing,” CCAB says. “As accountants, ethics must always be at the forefront of every decision that we make.”

Sophie Wales, ICAEW’s Head of Ethics and Economic Crime, said the objective of the survey was to get a sense of people’s awareness of professional ethics, to understand where any pressure to act unethically came from and to gauge how people have responded.

“Given what’s been going on over the past 18 months, we want to know how people are feeling in terms of the ethics in their workplace and the pressure they’re feeling to act in a way that they don’t feel comfortable with,” Wales said. “The purpose is for us and the other professional bodies to understand what’s been going on and We would reflect on those results to find ways to help and support our members who are dealing with ethical difficulties.”

The survey will run until 29 August. Complete the CCAB Ethics Survey here.

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