Integrity, accuracy and ethical leadership: CAW issues paper on trust in Chartered Accountants
Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW) has launched a publication ‘Trust: Making the difference, foundations and impacts of Chartered Accountants’ trusted roles in society’ to coincide with World Ethics Day.
Trust. It’s a small word that means a lot. But it doesn’t exist on its own. Trust must be built slowly, and it needs strong foundations to last. So how do Chartered Accountants build and maintain that foundation?
The Chartered Accountancy profession is made up of the member professional bodies of Chartered Accountants Worldwide and the individual Chartered Accountants who are members of those bodies. Since the formation of ICAS in 1854, the oldest professional accountancy body in the world, Chartered Accountants have recognised the importance of being trusted. Central to this, is the obligation for each and every Chartered Accountant to take individual responsibility for the maintenance of the highest standards of ethical principles throughout their career. It’s not only important for safeguarding their own reputation, but also that of their organisation and their profession, for the benefit of the public in general.
The first Chartered Accountants might be surprised by the way business, technology and communications have changed, but they would hopefully be proud to find their modern colleagues still focused on being trustworthy. Chartered Accountants still believe in accuracy, quality, integrity, ethics, acting in the public interest and being worthy of trust as information demands and the concerns of governments, investors, business and society at large evolve. This includes financial information, and increasingly a wider plethora of reporting on sustainability (including climate change), business models and beyond. With each added layer of complexity to financial and wider corporate reporting and business, trust in Chartered Accountants grows more important than ever before.
While the profession has worked hard to earn trust, it also must work hard to maintain it. In a world where misinformation can be viral in seconds, Chartered Accountants play a coveted role as the “guardians of governance”. Historically, that role has focused on ensuring the quality of financial reporting but increasingly in the public interest the scope will widen to ensure the quality of non-financial information, including sustainability-related information.
This paper explores how Chartered Accountants support and maintain the trust we have earned. It explains the impacts and dependability of Chartered Accountants in performing their roles and it asks how society’s evolving needs for trusted information and integrity across the economy can best be met. It is pleasing to note that the recent Global accountancy trust survey, conducted by Edelman DXI* survey of trust in Chartered Accountants showed that this had increased by 7% to 85% in the last two years. Whilst this is a great achievement it is only by continuing to meet the needs of society that trust will be maintained and further enhanced.
*Statistics taken from the 4th Wave of The Global accountancy trust survey, conducted by Edelman DXI (June 2023) “Evaluating trust in the accountancy sector for Chartered Accountants"