ICAS introduces a requirement for ethics CPD for all Members
Michelle Mullen, ICAS Executive Director, Standards explains the introduction of the requirement for ethics Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for all ICAS Members.
ICAS Council has given approval for compulsory ethics CPD to be introduced for all ICAS Members with effect from 1 January 2021. The first ethics CPD declaration of compliance sign-off will be required in the 2022 Annual Return.
ICAS Council believes that the introduction of ethics CPD will serve as a reminder to Members of their ethical responsibilities and highlight the necessity to keep ethics at the forefront of their mind.
ICAS ethics CPD would not involve compulsory attendance at ethics courses, or the purchase of ethics material. It could simply involve some ethics-related reading which is freely available online including from ICAS ethics resources. Some examples of online resources are noted below.
Members will need to be able to demonstrate within their CPD return a recognition of the importance of ethics to their profession by noting what they have done in the year to maintain their knowledge and awareness of ethics-related matters.
Acting in the public interest is the foundation of the accountancy profession. ICAS’ The Power of One business ethics initiative calls on all CAs to take personal responsibility for demonstrating the highest standards of ethical behaviour throughout their career and to place ethical leadership at the heart of their professional responsibilities.
CAs can be found in all walks of life and must take personal responsibility for the important role they each have to play in promoting ethical behaviour. Ultimately, the five fundamental ethics principles within the ICAS Code of Ethics should underpin the CA’s approach to any ethical dilemma, and the ethical decision-making process.
Ethical values must be embedded within the individual decisions and actions carried out by organisations. For those who are leaders of organisations, there is a need to ensure that the ethics and integrity of their organisation is seen to transcend all other organisational objectives and strategies. Ethical values should be central to a board’s decision-making process. Effective boardroom decision making, the essence of good governance, is paramount.
However, regardless of whether a CA is newly qualified or has many years of experience, every CA has their part to play. Through their ethical leadership, CAs are a force for good in the organisations in which they work, reinforcing the importance of ethics at the core of business practices and decision making. In this way, CAs are a key component of building public trust in business, to the benefit of our broader society.
ICAS students are now being taught and examined on their knowledge of ethics.The first formal Business Ethics exam took place in November 2018 and, in line with The CA Agenda, “public trust” is now an element of the exam with the first “Public Trust and Ethics” exam being sat in November 2019. However, it is also recognised that there is a need for continued and ongoing training in ethics post qualification.
Following a joint recommendation by the ICAS Ethics Board and ICAS Regulation Board, ICAS Council concluded that ethics CPD should be compulsory for all ICAS Members in order to continually remind Members of the importance of professional ethics.
Ethics CPD will be introduced with effect from 1 January 2021 with the first ethics CPD declaration of compliance sign-off being required in the 2022 Annual Return.
Ethics CPD in practice
ICAS Council does not envision that ethics CPD would involve compulsory attendance at ethics courses, or the purchase of ethics material. It could simply involve some ethics-related reading which is freely available online. In addition to ICAS’ own ethics resources, other websites provide useful sources of information. Examples of both are as follows:
- ICAS ethics resources – ethics publications, guidance, news articles
- ICAS Code of Ethics and related articles and guidance, e.g. articles on changes to the Code
- ICAS The Power of One publications
- ICAS Speak up? Listen up? Whistleblow? research and webinar
- Other ICAS ethics research
- ICAS ethics case studies
- ICAS responses to ethics-related consultations
- ICAS disciplinary cases
- International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) – news, meetings, consultations
- IFAC Knowledge Gateway – articles
- Financial Reporting Council – Ethical Standard, news, disciplinary cases
- Institute of Business Ethics – publications, events, webinars
- CCAB (Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies) – news, case studies
- Accountancy Europe
As well as the ICAS Code of Ethics, as part of its The Power of One business ethics initiative, ICAS has published a number of ethics resources to support Members. Search ‘Ethics and The Power of One’.
ICAS offers an Ethics Helpline Service.
ICAS is also partnered with Protect to provide ICAS Members and Students with access to an independent whistleblowing advice helpline. This service offers free advice regarding whistleblowing and speaking up.