The International Accounting Education Standards Board has released a proposed revision of its professional development standard for educating accountants in values, ethics and attitudes.

International Education Standard 4, Initial Professional Development-Professional Values, Ethics, and Attitudes is part of the IAESB’s project to improve the clarity of its standards. It is primarily aimed at IFAC member bodies, but will be of interest to educational organizations, employers, regulators, government authorities, and other stakeholders who support the learning and development of professional accountants.

Drafted in 2004, IES 4 prescribes the values, ethics, and attitudes that professional accountants should acquire during the education program leading to qualification. A revised draft of IES 4 was exposed for public comment in May 2011. While respondents’ comments were generally supportive, further clarification was requested in explaining the requirements on learning outcomes, assessment, and reflective activity—the recurring process of reviewing experiences with a view to improve future actions. As a result, the IAESB has made substantial changes to the content of IES 4. The IESB operates under the auspices of the International Federation of Accountants.

In addition to addressing these issues, the proposed revised IES 4 requires IFAC member bodies to regularly review and update their professional accounting education programs. Professional accounting education programs include formal education and workplace training. Updating both the knowledge content of professional accounting education programs and the content of workplace training on a regular basis, improves the likelihood of learning outcomes being relevant and developing appropriate competence. 

“The regular review and updating of professional accounting education programs—including professional values, ethics, and attitudes as outlined in IES 4—is essential to both the development and the maintenance of competence,” said Peter Wolnizer, who chairs the IAESB. “Additionally, increasing competence improves the quality of financial information—a key component of business decision-making.”

In a continuing effort to improve the clarity of its standards, the IAESB has undertaken a project to redraft all eight of its IESs in accordance with its new clarity drafting conventions. IES 7, Continuing Professional Development, is the first clarified standard to be released since the project began in December 2010.

Under the current timetable, the IAESB anticipates that all IESs will have been revised and redrafted, or redrafted only, by the third quarter of 2013.

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