Emphasising the importance of ethics with the new ICAS Business Ethics exam
ICAS is proud to announce the launch of a new Business Ethics exam for CA Students, which formalises our profession’s core value.
From November 2018, all CA students sitting the final technical exam (TPE case study exam) will also sit a separate exam on Business Ethics. This will be a short case study, which requires students to identify ethical issues, evaluate these issues, discuss options and provide recommendations.
This initiative has the wide support of the ICAS Council, education committees and the Training Principals. The exam’s introduction emphasises the importance ICAS places on ethics at the heart of the profession.
It will also equip them with the skills necessary to exercise professional judgment within an ethical framework.
ICAS Executive Director of Education Mark Allison said: “The formalisation of the Ethics assignment as an exam at the point of entry to ICAS membership supports the wider ICAS position and signals to prospective members and the public the importance placed on ethical behaviour.”
The assessment will ensure future students are encouraged to develop an ethical mindset and be prepared to act in the public interest from the beginning of their professional career. It will also equip them with the skills necessary to exercise professional judgment within an ethical framework.
The heart of what we do
In November 2015, ICAS launched The Power of One initiative, which called on all CAs to; place ethical leadership at the heart of their professional responsibilities, shape the culture and values of their organisations, help re-establish ethics at the core of business practices, and rebuild public trust in business.
The Power of One is based on the principle that “ethics and integrity are at the heart of the professional responsibilities of ICAS members”.
[Ethics] is a core living value, and by bringing this exam into the heart of our final assessment we demonstrate its importance. - Bruce Cartwright, ICAS CEO
Most interested parties agree that the public trust in business practices is at a low ebb. Accounting scandals demonstrate that there is a need for professional accountants to act and to be seen to act with high ethical standards, and in the public interest. The launch of this exam will fulfil these aims and provide newly qualified CAs with the best possible start to their career.
ICAS CEO Bruce Cartwright said: “We have always maintained that strong ethical behaviour is at the core of being a professional. It is not optional or a ‘nice to have’. It is a core living value, and by bringing this exam into the heart of our final assessment we demonstrate its importance.”
Head of the ICAS Ethics Board, Norman Murray, said: “CA student members have the greatest opportunity to influence generational change through aligning personal and organisational values which put ethics at the forefront of the decision-making process.”
From the beginning of a CA’s training, ethics form an integral part of the CA qualification. All students complete a Business Ethics course, beginning with Business Ethics 1 in the first year of their studies. This introduces the ICAS code of ethics, ethical decision-making, and the impact of these decisions. Students also learn about different ethical theories, and how these can influence.
Using short case studies, CA students are encouraged to think and act ethically.
Business Ethics 2 takes place in the final year of training towards membership and covers decision-making from a professional perspective. Using short case studies, CA students are encouraged to think and act ethically. This commitment is reinforced by an annual declaration of good ethical standing for each students' record of relevant practical experience.
The new Business Ethics exam will be completed by all students in the final year of their CA qualification, and replaces an essay-based assignment.
The exam includes a more formal assessment of the ethical characteristics of newly qualified chartered accountants and will take place the day before the final technical exam, TPE. Both exams are fully open book, reflecting the real-world nature of the exam.
The exam will be a similar format to the current assignment. Students will be placed in the role of a recently qualified chartered accountant and will find themselves faced with a number of ethical dilemmas. They will be required to evaluate the issues, consider the impact on relevant stakeholders, discuss a number of possible actions, and recommend the most suitable action(s) with reference to ethical theories and appropriate legislation.
Students will receive guidance on their approach to the Business Ethics exam on the Business Ethics 2 teaching day, and will also sit a mock exam, which will be marked with feedback to assist with their exam preparation.