Corporate Profiles

CCAB Ethics Group - Key Messages

The CCAB Ethics Group co-ordinates activities between the CCAB member bodies relating to ethical guidance and liaison with regulators and standard setters in respect of ethical issues. This includes:

  • discussions with the Auditing Practices Board regarding auditor independence issues,
  • application of the IESBA (International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants) requirement to apply its independence guidance to assurance engagements, and
  • the implementation of the IESBA code of ethics.

The Group periodically issues ethical dilemma case studies and other guidance aimed at professional accountants.

The key messages to which the CCAB Ethics Group subscribes are as follows:

  1. Integrity
    • Integrity is fundamental to:
      • The behaviour of professional accountants who need to be relied upon as trusted advisors at all times.
      • Reliable high quality information and trust in performance reporting.
      • The provision of assurance on performance reporting.
  2. Ethics is a Positive
    • A strong commitment to ethical conduct on the part of owners, directors, those charged with governance and key staff is a strong line of defence against reputational damage and should be an essential part of any risk management strategy.
    • Ethical behaviour will enhance the reputation of an organisation in the market.
  3. Support for Ethical Culture to be Properly Embedded in an Organisation
    • Organisations should:
      • Ensure a strong ethical culture. The values associated with this culture should then be embedded in the organisation including business/operational models, organisational strategy and decision making processes.
      • Set the right tone at the top and then ensure that although regulation, standards and related guidance are intended to encourage ethical behaviour and prevent wrong doing and misleading practices, ethical behaviour is not a matter of blindly following pre-existing rules or even finding better rules within an existing system.
      • Make sure that ethical behaviour involves judgement and ability to question and challenge the appropriateness of regulation and standards. This is reflected throughout the organisation.
  4. Support for a Principles and not Rules Based Approach:
    • This approach:
      • Provides guidance that can be applied to the infinite variations in circumstances that a professional accountant encounters.
      • Can cope with rapid changes in the modern business environment.
      • Prevents the development of a mechanistic, “box-ticking” approach to decision making and the use of legalistic loopholes to avoid compliance with guidance.
      • Focuses on the spirit of the guidance and encourages responsibility for the exercise of professional judgement, which are key elements of professions.
  5. Ethics Codes/ Standards Must Be Proportionate
    • A think small first approach should be taken to developing ethical codes/standards.
  6. Support for One Global Code of Ethics
    • Support the development of a single globally accepted principles-based Code of Ethics which should cover all members of professional accountancy bodies.
    • Support for a principles and not rules based Code of Ethics.
  7. Uphold the Public Interest
    • The need for professional accountants to act in the public interest and with integrity. The CCAB promotes the highest ethical and business standards, and encourages its members to be good and responsible professionals. Good ethical behaviour may be above that required by the law or applicable standards.

Ethical conduct and compliance with standards are the hallmarks of any profession. It therefore follows that an effective system of regulation is essential to ensure that members of a profession conduct themselves ethically and adhere to standards. Any system of regulation must have the protection of the public interest as its overriding objective, over and above the interests of the members of the profession. CCAB welcomes feedback on these key messages. Please e-mail admin@ccab.org.uk.

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