Article Brief: “Keeping Up with Ethics More than Just a CPE Requirement.”
Balog (2013) argues that keeping up with ethics has become more than just a Continuing Profession Education (CPE) requirement because of the numerous developments that have occurred in the professional ethics front for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Other than merely being a CPE requirement, ethics also entails other issues relating to the international code of conduct and the recodification of the current codes of conduct, which have far reaching consequences on the accounting profession. Similar to the international integration of accounting and financial reporting standards, there have been attempts to synchronize the various ethical codes of conduct for public accountants around the world in order to come up with international ethical codes that will apply to several parts of the world (Clements, Neill, & Stovall, 2009). In spite of the similarities between the foundations of these codes between the different countries across the globe, the international ethical codes might vary significantly from the codes in the individual countries. For this reason, CPAs should follow up these developments because they might have considerable implications on the nature of their profession
Even though attending ethics seminars and training is a CPE requirement, the main reason why CPAs should fulfil this requirement is because of the new developments in the ethics field. Despite the fact that a four hour course might not be sufficient to guarantee that the attendees will instantly become ethical, they benefit by gaining increased awareness of the current trends in ethical issues and a better understanding of the subject matter.
There have of late been increased pressures in the financial business environment, occasioned by among other factors, difficulties in obtaining financing and increased demands for better performance of public companies. Moreover, a new definition of the term “member in business” was adopted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Code of Professional Conduct in 2011. The new definition stands for “a member employed or engaged on a contractual or volunteer basis in an executive, staff, governance, advisory, or administrative capacity in such areas as industry, the public sector, education, the not-for profit sector, or regulatory professional bodies.” This definition excludes members engaged in the practice of public accounting. CPAs therefore need to be alert to these pressures, and “act with objectivity, due care, and professional scepticism.” To achieve this, they should attend ethics seminars and training in order to reinforce their professional judgment, objectivity, and independence in performing their services.
Another reason why CPAs should attend ethics seminars and training is because of globalization, which has increased their exposure and involvement in international transactions. These seminars will help to update them on the recent developments in international ethical codes. CPAs working for multinational corporations in the U.S. might be subject to international codes of ethics stipulated by the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA), AICPA and the various state associations for public accountants. There is however an ongoing convergence in ethics codes pending approval from the relevant authorities. This convergence might help to reconcile the differences between the ethical codes of conduct in different countries and achieve a uniform set of international ethical codes. This implies that, in future, multinational corporations might be governed by a single set of international codes, which will further enhance the efficiency of international financial reporting. Other than international ethics, plans are also underway to restructure the AICPA Code of professional Conduct in order to enhance the clarity of its provisions. This further underscores the significance of ethics seminars and training because CPAs will be able to keep track of any significant changes in ethical codes. To conclude, ethical seminars and training are vital because they facilitate increased awareness for CPAs.
Balog, I. (2013). Keeping Up with Ethics More than Just a CPE Requirement. Pennsylvania CPA Jouranal.
Clements, C. E., Neill, J. D., & Stovall, O. S. (2009). The Impact of Cultural Differences on the Convergence of International Accounting Codes of Ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 383-391.