Professional Ethics and Codes of Conduct

1. RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

Introduction:

Members of association are required to observe proper standards of professional conduct and refrain from misconduct. Overseas members may follow the local ethics where the profession is controlled by a reputed professional body or law, i.e. the local law prevails on international law.

Fundamental Principles of Professional Conduct

· Integrity

Integrity should be maintained in all professional, business and personal financial relationships. It implies honesty, fair dealing and truthfulness.

Objectivity

There should be objectivity in all professional and business judgements.

Competence

One should not accept work which cannot be competently undertaken.

Due skill and care

Professional work should be carried out with due skill, care, diligence and expedition.

Courtesy and consideration

Towards all with whom they come into contact while performing work.

2. INTEGRITY, OBJECTIVITY AND INDEPENDENCE

Principle

A member’s objectivity must be beyond question which can only be assured if the member is, and is seen to be, independent.

Areas of risk to the independence

There are certain areas creating risk to the independence of a member of the association, some which are given below:

Undue dependence on an audit client


1. For audit and other recurring work paid by one client, or a group of connected clients, should not exceed 15% and for listed companies, it should not exceed 10% of the gross practicing income.

2. The desire not to lose a prestigious client

3. Fee income taken for non-recurring assignments, if taken with recurring work, could give rise to dependency.

Overdue fees

The existence of significance overdue fees from an audit client or group of associated clients can be a threat of appear to be a threat to objectivity akin to that of a loan.

Actual or threatened litigation

A firm’s objectivity may be threatened or appear to be threatened when it is involved in, or even threatened with litigation in relation to a client.’

Litigation of any sort represents the breakdown of relationship between the auditor and the client which affects the independence of the auditor and also may cause the directors of the client company unwilling to present required record. Such litigation are not a result of merely late fee disputes.

Family and other personal relationships


Law prohibits the officer/employee of the company to accept the assignment to be an auditor of the company. A member should not also accept the assignment if he has been the officer/employee of the company in last 3 years. A practice should not report on a company if the company associated with the practice fills the appointment of secretary to the client.

Beneficial interest in shares and other investments


A member should not have a Personal Equity Plan (PEP) which has among its investments and audit client. Shares acquired by a partner should be disposed of at the earliest practicable date, or disengage from the assignment.

An auditor required to be a shareholder e.g. by constitution should not hold more than the minimum number of shares necessary to comply. The shareholding should be disclosed in the accounts, the directors’ report, or the auditor’s report.

Voting on audit appointments


A partner or member of staff who holds shares in a company which is an audit client of the practice should not vote at any general meeting in relation to the auditor’s

Appointment

Removal

Remuneration

Loans



In respect of an audit client, a practice should not

Make a loan

Accept a loan

Guarantee borrowings

3. CONFIDENTIALITY


Confidentiality includes:

Improper disclosure

Improper use

Improper Disclosure


Principle

Information obtained in the course of the business should not be disclosed to the third parties without first obtaining the client’s permission.


Except:

Where there is a statutory right or duty to disclose

Under obligation of a court order

General Position


Confidentiality is an implied term of the contract between the auditor and client, because the public interest is at stake. Auditors are normally under no legal obligation to disclose defaults or unlawful acts to any one other than client’s management. Where there is a right to disclose, the disclosure should be made in pursuit of a public duty or professional obligation provided they are strongly recommended to take legal advice.

Obligatory Disclosure


UK examples include actual of suspected offences of

Terrorism

· Treason

Money laundering

Drug trafficking

Voluntary Disclosure


In the ‘public interest’ to a person having proper interest to receive information e.g. the police

· To protect the auditor’s interests e.g. in defending against ACCA disciplinary proceedings

Authorized by statute

To non- governmental bodies

3.2 Improper Use of Information


Principle

A member acquiring information in the course of his or her professional work should neither use nor appear to use that information for his personal advantage or for the advantage of a third party.

Examples


When a member changes firm of employment, he should distinguish between:

Experience gained in the previous firm of employment; and

Confidential information acquired here

A member should not deal in the shares of a company with which he has a professional association as might make it appear that he was turning information obtained in his professional capacity to his own advantage.


4. CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS


Conflict may be:

Member v Client

Client v Client

4.1 Member v Client

Principle

Members should place clients’ interest before their own interest.

A firm should not accept or continue an engagement in which there is or is likely to be a significant conflict of interests between the firm and the client.

Any financial gain which accrues or is likely to accrue to the firm as a result of the engagement, other than properly earned fees etc., will always amount to a significant conflict of interests.

Commission


Where any commission, fee or reward may be earned for the introduction of a client, or as a result of advice given to a client, the client should be informed in writing

That such commission etc. will be received; and

As soon as practicable, of its amount and terms.

4.2 Client v Client

General Position

A firm may has two or more clients whose interests may be in conflicts, provided that the firm’s work is so managed to avoid the interests of one client adversely affecting the others’. However, where the acceptance or continuance of engagement would materially affect the interests of any client, even with safeguards, the appointment should not be accepted or continued.

Managing conflict between client interests’


All reasonable steps should be taken to ascertain whether any conflict of interests exists or is likely to exist in the future.

Relationship with existing clients is undertaken before accepting a new assignment and regularly thereafter.

Over 2 years before ended relationship is unlikely to give rise to any conflict.

Disclosure


A material conflict of interests between the existing or potential clients have to be disclosed sufficiently providing room for them to have an informed decision whether to continue or discontinue their relationship with the firm.

Safeguards


Use different partners and teams of staff for different engagements.

No leakage of confidential information between different teams and sections of the firm.

Regular review of the situation by a senior partner or compliance officer not personally involved with either client.

Advising at least one or all clients to seek additional independent advice.

Disengagement


Disengagement, when necessary, should be done as speedily as is compatible with the interests of the clients concerned.

5. APPLICATION OF CODE TO INTERNAL AUDITORS

Code of Ethics


The purpose of the code of ethics of IIA is the globalisation and promotion of ethical culture in the profession of internal auditing. It applies to both individuals and the entities that provide internal auditing services.

The IIA code has two essential components:

Principles; and

Rules of conduct

Integrity

Principle

Integrity establishes trust which provides the basis for reliance on their judgment.

Rules of Conduct


To perform work with honesty, diligence and responsibility

To observe the law and the profession

To respect and contribute to the legitimate and ethical objectives of the organisation

Objectivity

Principle


Judgements are not unduly influenced by the interests of the internal auditors or the others


Rule of conduct


Auditors are advised

Not to enter in such an activity or relationship (including conflicts of interests) that may impair an unbiased assessment

Not to accept anything that may impair any professional judgment

To disclose all material facts that may distort the reporting of activities under review, if not disclosed

Impairments to organisational independence and individual objectivity may include:


Scope limitations

Personal conflicts of interests

Resource limitations (funding)

Restrictions to access to records, personnel and properties

Confidentiality

Principle


Respecting the value and ownership of information received

Rule of conduct


Information acquired in the course of profession should be used carefully and protected

Not to use the information for personal use in a manner prohibited by law or fatal to the organisational legitimate and ethical objectives

Competence

Principle


Applying the knowledge, skill and professional expertise up to the best they are needed

Rule of conduct


To perform internal auditing services in accordance with the Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing

· To engage only those services for which they have sufficient skills, knowledge and experience

To continuously improve the efficiency of their services

Concept Clearing Questions (CCQs)


1. The audit senior of Neutron, a limited liability company, celebrating weekend left the audit files in the boot of his car overnight. There is no other audit staff available that the client considers being capable of replacing him on the assignment.

2. A part-time partner in Spoile and Co. is also a councilor in the local authority. He has been acting for Radnor Ltd. Whose business venture now requires planning permission from the local authority. The partner sits in the planning committee and recently vigorously opposed a similar application.

3. In an effort to reduce audit fees your client, Finders Ltd., has employed an accountant on a temporary basis t assist you with your audit work. The client feels that it will be cheaper for the temporary accountant to perform some of the audit testing, replacing one member of your staff.

4. Trainees of Porthouse, a firm of Certified Accountants, have been offered overdraft facilities up to $3,000, on student terms, by a client bank.

Focus Questions:


Define the fundamental concepts of professional ethics.

Define the applications of the code. (Hint: to internal and external auditors)

Define the detailed requirements of, and illustrate and analyze the application of, professional ethics in the context of independence, objectivity and integrity.

Define the detailed requirements of, and illustrate and analysis the application of, professional ethics in the context of confidentiality and conflict of interests, with reference to the independent auditing.

Distinguish between the elements of professional ethics applicable to internal auditors and those applicable to internal auditors.

Discuss the principles and rules of conduct of Integrity, Objectivity, Confidentiality and Competence with reference to internal auditing.

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Comments 11 comments

Majid Ghauri profile image

Majid Ghauri 6 years ago

awesome....that's really helpful for me studying F8.

nowadays preparing this paper for June attempt.

thanks for sharing ur knowledge


Lady Enchantee profile image

Lady Enchantee 6 years ago from My Enchanted Garden

Sir, this is a very informative, clear, & helpful article! Thank you for taking the time to write & to share it.

I have found several things in this that will assist me professionally.

Most of all, your article gives me hope that all of those old-fashioned virtues that used to govern business interactions are still alive & well. Thank you for celebrating these in a way that we can all apply more deeply in our professional lives.

Warm regards...Lady Enchantee


Bilaras profile image

Bilaras 6 years ago from Earth Author

Thank you Lady Enchantee for your lovely comments ...

and Majid Ghauri best of luck for your exams.


TD 6 years ago

F8 was a fucked up paper . But i think ill pass it , this article helped me a lot.


fatma 6 years ago

helpful information.reading this article..hop it will help me in my p1 paper


Mr.Gadget profile image

Mr.Gadget 6 years ago from Taxas City

Professional Ethics are only for small business pople corporate giant don't follow any ethics.


Mr.Samora Hambwalula 6 years ago

Very usefull easy to undstand notes! Thank you very much and continue with the good work.


Mr Richmond Bansah 4 years ago

This is an excellent piece of work. It has really broadens my mind and i can easily approach exam questions with ease.


sally hamad 4 years ago

this is a great work,thanks a lot it will help me on my business ethic paper


tina bills 22 months ago

thanks for ur good job


Patreena 2 months ago

Thank you for the information. However I was reading a textbook that states that the listed audit client's total fees should not exceed 15% for two consecutive years as this might threaten the firm's independence. Years ago it use to be 10% but apparently this has changed. Nevertheless I realise you still related to same as 10% and not 15%.

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