The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants released for public consultation Tuesday a proposed strategy and work plan for the next five years.

The IESBA’s Proposed Strategy and Work Plan, 2014-2018 builds on the foundation established by the revised Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants that the board issued in July 2009 clarifying requirements for accountants and significantly strengthening independence requirements for auditors.

The consultation paper was developed based on input from a survey earlier this year and other consultative activities. It lays out four proposed strategic themes to reflect the IESBA’s vision for the medium to longer term and to guide its work plan of the IESBA, which operates under the auspices of the International Federation of Accountants, over the five-year period. Among the priorities are maintaining a high-quality code of ethics for application by professional accountants globally; promoting and facilitating the adoption and effective implementation of the code of ethics; evolving the code of ethics for continued relevance in a changing global environment; and increasing engagement and cooperation with key stakeholders.

“The board’s mandate is to develop high-quality ethics standards for the profession worldwide,” IESBA chair Jörgen Holmquist said in a statement. “Therefore, the board’s primary strategic priority should be to ensure that the code continues to be a robust set of standards in the public interest. The board also recognizes the strategic importance of advancing adoption and effective implementation of the code to further contribute to public trust and confidence in the profession, and of broadening and deepening stakeholder engagement as an essential ingredient to the quality of its standards and their global acceptance. It is critical that the board hears from stakeholders as to whether the actions and activities it is proposing to prioritize appropriately support these objectives.”

The consultation paper includes four work streams that the IESBA agreed to pursue in early 2012 in response to a strategic review of external developments. Those include a review of the provisions in the code of ethics addressing non-assurance services and long associations of senior personnel with an audit client, with respect to independence; a review of the structure of the code with a view to enhancing its usability and accessibility; and a review of Part C of the code addressing professional accountants in business.

“The proposed Strategy and Work Plan reflects the Ethics Board’s goal of further reinforcing and promoting the code as a leading set of ethics standards for the global profession,” said IESBA technical director Ken Siong. “Ultimately, this consultation aims to ensure that the board’s proposed strategic priorities are aligned with the needs of its stakeholders and that it is best utilizing and directing its resources to achieve its objectives.”

The IESBA is inviting all those with an interest in international ethics standards for the accountancy profession to respond to the consultation paper, which includes specific questions to guide responses. It is also encouraging national and regional professional accountancy organizations to share the consultation paper with and encourage participation from their members and employees. Comments are requested by Feb. 28, 2014. To access the consultation paper and submit a comment, visit www.ethicsboard.org.

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