By Ochieng Otieno
Professional ethics are principles that govern the behavior of a person or group in a business environment. Like values, professional ethics provide rules on how a person should act towards other people and institutions in such an environment. According to International Federation of Accountants (2006) the code of ethics for professional accountants, a distinguishing mark of the accountancy profession is its acceptance of the responsibility to act in the public interest hence the inclusion of public interest in ICPAK vision.
A professional code of ethics is designed to ensure professionals are behaving in manner that is socially acceptable and respectful of one another. It establishes the rules for behavior and sends a message to every member that universal compliance is expected. It also provides the groundwork for a preemptive warning if and where the members break the code. A code of ethics can be valuable not just internally as a professional guide but also externally as a statement of a company’s values and commitments which is the case for ICPAK.
The meaning of professional ethics is almost similar to the meaning of professional etiquette which also is A professional code of ethics is designed to ensure professionals are behaving in respectful of one another. It establishes the rules for behavior and sends a message to every member that universal compliance is expected. It also provides the groundwork for a preemptive warning if and where the members break
the code. A code of ethics can be valuable not just internally as a professional guide but also externally as a statement of a company’s values and commitments which is the case for ICPAK.
The meaning of professional ethics is almost similar to the meaning of professional etiquette which also is omissions of members of a profession. In June 2005, the IESBA (formerly the Ethics Committee) issued a revised Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants. The revised Code establishes a conceptual framework for all professional accountants to ensure compliance with the five fundamental principles of ethics;
Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong
moral and ethical principles and values. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. The principle of integrity imposes an obligation on all Accountants to be straightforward and honest in professional and business relationships. Integrity also implies fair dealing
and truthfulness at all times in all interactions. This should always be used as a yardstick when we elect our ICPAK leaders.
A professional accountant should not allow bias, conflict of interest, or undue influence of others to override professional or business judgments. The principle of objectivity imposes an obligation on Accountants to be fair, intellectually honest, and free of conflicts of interest. Regardless of service or capacity, Accountants should protect the integrity of their professional services and maintain objectivity in their judgment. Members serve in many different capacities and must demonstrate their Objectivity in varying circumstances .
Members in public practice undertake assurance engagements, and render tax and other management advisory services Other members prepare financial statements in the employment of others, perform internal auditing services, and serve in financial management capacities in industry, commerce, the public sector and education. They also educate and train those who aspire to admission into the profession. Regardless of service or capacity, members must protect the Integrity of their professional work, maintain Objectivity and avoid any subordination of their judgment.
Independence is an attitude of mind characterized by integrity and objectivity in approach to accounting
or audit assignment. Independence is a very crucial issue in enhancing the assignments ‘objectivity, findings
and opinions expressed in financial statements. Therefore, not only must the accountant or auditor be independent in fact and in attitude of mind, he must also be considered to be independent. Members performing certain types of assurance engagements, such as the external audit or review of a financial
report, must be Independent of the entity and the subject matter on which they are reporting.
iv) Professional Competence and Due Care
A professional accountant has a continuous duty of maintaining professional knowledge and skill at
the level required to ensure that a client or employer receives competent professional service based on current developments in practice, legislation, and techniques. A professional accountant should act diligently and in accordance with applicable technical and professional standards when providing
Members must only undertake professional work in which they have the Competence necessary to perform the work to the technical and professional standards expected. This call for members to collaborate in handling tasks, referring clients to other firms with the specialty or forming forces between firms to handle given customers need to the clients expectation. Moreover, members must perform their professional work with due care and diligence, ensuring that all professional obligations are completed in a timely manner and are carried out in accordance with the relevant technical and professional standards appropriate to that work.
A professional accountant should respect the confidentiality of information acquired as a result of professional and business relationships and should not disclose any such information to third parties without proper and specific authority unless there is a legal or professional right or duty to disclose. Confidential information acquired as a result of professional and business relationships should not be used for the personal advantage of the professional accountant or third parties.
Members must respect the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of their professional work and must not disclose such information without proper and specific authority or unless there is a legal or profession. A professional accountant should comply with relevant laws and regulations and should avoid any action that discredits the profession.
The above forms the backbone of ICPAK making the Ethics course compulsory so that members are always reminded of the code of ethics that should guide them in their day to day work. To be designated a professional demands a commitment to the common good. Thus, to be a professional is to be called. Hence our call as Accountants!