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Ethics: how much do people trust accountants?

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Published: 18 Oct 2023

The latest Global accountancy trust survey, conducted by Edelman DXI looks at the level of trust that people and businesses have in chartered accountants.

This Global Ethics Day (18 October), the latest trust report from Edelman and Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW) has revealed a significant increase in trust in chartered accountants in the wake of ongoing economic uncertainty.

Business leaders are now urging accountants to extend their role beyond finance by guiding on resilience, ethics, data integrity, and navigating AI, technology and ESG matters. According to the report, 78% of businesses view chartered accountants as crucial in addressing economic challenges.

Accountants are also seen as data guardians (81%) responsible for data integrity and helping businesses combat misinformation (77%). To meet these growing expectations, chartered accountants need to engage in broader discussions about resilience and digital transformation.

Additionally, chartered accountants are expected to be tech-savvy navigators (81%), necessitating universal training and resources for technology adoption.

“It is clear that the role of the chartered accountant has evolved far beyond the traditional numbers; they are trusted business leaders and advisers,” says ICAEW Chief Executive Michael Izza.

“Their expanding roles encompass resilience, data integrity, technology and net zero transition, reflecting the evolving needs of businesses in today’s dynamic environment. Professional bodies play a crucial role in equipping their members to excel in these expanded capacities, thereby cementing their position as indispensable pillars of trust in the business world.”

Trust in accountants is increasingly tied to advocacy on social and environmental issues, the report explains. ESG considerations are now central to business strategies, and chartered accountants must be well prepared to engage in purpose-led conversations.

Professional bodies can play a pivotal role in supporting their members as vocal advocates for ESG, providing resources and fostering partnerships to ensure ethical considerations drive decision-making. This evolving landscape demands that chartered accountants step up, speak out, and expand their role as trusted advisers.

“Chartered accountants work hard to build and maintain trust and remain committed to continuing to do so as the profession evolves,” states the report.

“Historically the chartered accountant brand has engendered trust to capital and financial matters. Their rigour of process, commitment to education and quality, alongside the ethical standards of professional accountants give the public trust in the financial reporting supply chain and capital markets.”

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