The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants has released for public comment an exposure draft on proposed changes to certain provisions of the ethics code related to non-assurance services for audit clients.

The proposed changes from IESBA, which operates under the auspices of the International Federation of Accountants, aim to enhance the independence provisions in the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants by providing additional guidance and clarification regarding what constitutes management responsibility, including enhanced guidance regarding how the auditor can better satisfy itself that client management will make all judgments and decisions that are the responsibility of management, when the auditor provides non-assurance services to an audit client.

Other changes would provide better guidance and clarification on the concept of “routine or mechanical” services relating to the preparation of accounting records and financial statements for non-public interest entity audit clients. Another change would remove the provision that permits an audit firm to provide certain bookkeeping and taxation services to public interest entity audit clients in emergency situations.

“Independence is the bedrock of all audits,” said interim IESBA chair Wui San Kwok in a statement. “It is not only about independence in mind. It is also about independence in appearance, ensuring continued public trust in the work of the audit profession. The proposed changes further support this. Better guidance and clarification promote global consistency of application of the code’s provisions. And we eliminated a rule-exception—intended to be used only in rare situations—that could have been perceived to provide opportunities for misuse, misinterpretation, or abuse.”

The ethics board is also proposing enhancements to the corresponding non-assurance services provisions in Section 291—Other Assurance Engagements with respect to assurance clients.

“In developing the proposals, the board took into account the results of a benchmarking survey of G-20 countries and a number of other jurisdictions with respect to certain types of non-assurance services,” said IESBA technical director Ken Siong. “The proposals are also responsive to recommendations from a working group established by the board that looked into the unique and challenging issues professional accountants in small- and medium-sized entities and practices face when complying with the Code, and to feedback from the regulatory community.”

The IESBA is asking for all those with an interest in international ethics standards for the accountancy profession to respond to the exposure draft by Aug. 18, 2014. To access the exposure draft and submit a comment, visit The Ethics Board is also asking national and regional professional accounting organizations to share the document with their members and employees and encourage their participation.

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