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A Student's Guide to Professional Ethics in Accounting

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When you graduate from your accounting or bookkeeping course and enter the world of working professionals, you also enter the world of professional ethics and conduct.

Flip through the presentation below to find out everything you need to know about professional ethics in accounting.

Flip through the Slideshare to find out everything you need to know about professional ethics in accounting:

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A Student's Guide to Professional Ethics in Accounting

  1. 1. A Student's Guide to Professional Ethics in Accounting
  2. 2. Firstly What is (professional) ethics?
  3. 3. Ethics is a branch of philosophy that focuses on: “The basic concepts and fundamental principles of decent human conduct. It includes study of universal values such as the essential equality of all men and women, human or natural rights, obedience to the law of land, [and] concern for health and safety” – Businessdictionary.com Ethics is about determining what the right ways of acting as a human being are.
  4. 4. Professional Ethics is thus about how to conduct yourself in the right ways as a working professional. It concerns issues such as honesty, non- discrimination, non-exploitation, accountability, transparency, adhering to the law, and contributing to the welfare of society through your work.
  5. 5. Who decides on what professional ethical behaviour is?
  6. 6. Firstly Secondly There are certain organisations and professional bodies within each economic sector that ensure that professionals adhere to certain organisational codes and standards of ethical practice. In South Africa, you can belong to accounting organisations such as SAICA, ICB, and AAT (each of them having their own code of conduct). Professional ethics are often inscribed in the laws of a country, especially those laws that govern specific industries. There are thus certain legal principles that dictate professional conduct. An example is the ‘Public Accountants and Auditors Act 80 of 1991’ Click here to read SAICA’s Code of Conduct for Chartered Accountants
  7. 7. Thirdly Here is Oxbridge Academy’s company values (as set out by our MD Barend van den Berg, who is himself a Chartered Accountant registers with SAICA): Companies and employers often have a code of conduct, guiding principles, or a set of values that determines the way in which their employees should conduct business. Click here to read more about Oxbridge Academy’s values and principles • Integrity in everything we do • Respect for all people • Proactive behaviour • Quality processes • Service-driven excellence
  8. 8. What are the most important ethical principles?
  9. 9. 1. Integrity You must always uphold the integrity of your profession, encourage respect for it, and refrain from any activity that will bring disrepute to the profession of accounting or to the organisations you belong to. You should also always be forthright and honest in your business dealings and professional relationships. Despite all the different organisations responsible for determining ethical standards, there are a number of fundamental ethical principles that you will almost always find present:
  10. 10. 2. Objectivity You must not be biased in your work or let improper influence from others override your professional judgement or responsibilities. You must also conduct your affairs in a way that avoids conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest does arise, you should resolve it appropriately and with transparency. Despite all the different organisations responsible for determining ethical standards, there are a number of fundamental ethical principles that you will almost always find present:
  11. 11. 3. Confidentiality You should always respect the rights and privacy of your client. You should never disclose any confidential information to a third party without consent or a legal obligation to do so. You should also never use client information for any kind of personal gain as an accountant. Despite all the different organisations responsible for determining ethical standards, there are a number of fundamental ethical principles that you will almost always find present:
  12. 12. 4. Legality You should always adhere to and comply with the laws and regulations that govern the profession of accounting. You should never engage in or assist in concealing any criminal acts. You should also always adhere to the rules and processes of the organisations that you belong to. Despite all the different organisations responsible for determining ethical standards, there are a number of fundamental ethical principles that you will almost always find present:
  13. 13. 5. Accountability You should uphold your client’s interests above your own in all business matters. You should also exhibit a high degree of loyalty to your employer or client. You should not accept work for which you lack sufficient expertise or competence, or for which you do not have adequate time or opportunity to complete satisfactorily. Despite all the different organisations responsible for determining ethical standards, there are a number of fundamental ethical principles that you will almost always find present:
  14. 14. Why is professional ethics important?
  15. 15. Professional ethics are not just symbolic. It might sound idealistic to have all these values and principles, but the rules set out in ethical codes or constitutions are meant to be rigorously upheld by accounting professionals. To ensure that this happens, ethical principles are often set out in definitive policies that professionals are meant to comply with. For example: Here is what the ethical principle of ‘Integrity’ looks like in the Accounting Professional & Ethical Standards Board’s Code of Ethics:
  16. 16. Professional ethics are not just symbolic. It might sound idealistic to have all these values and principles, but it is also meant to be upheld and practiced by professional accountants. To ensure this, ethical principles are often set out in definitive policies that professionals are meant to comply with. For example: Here is the ethical principle of ‘Integrity’ looks like in the Accounting Professional & Ethical Standards Board’ Code of Ethics: Breaking the ethical code can result in the revoking of your professional licence, disciplinary action, expulsion from a professional organisation, dismissal by an employer, legal action, and even criminal charges! Professional ethics is meant to be taken seriously.
  17. 17. Want to learn more?
  18. 18. Oxbridge Academy has excellent articles on accounting: Find out more about studying an accredited accounting course from home here: www.oxbridgeacademy.co.za/courses/bookkeeping-accounting 7 People Who Turned Accounting into the Coolest Job Ever How to Market Your Skills as a Freelance Bookkeeper The Difference Between Bookkeeping and Accounting How to Start a Bookkeeping Business from Home (Free e-book)

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