IESBA revises code of ethics for accountants’ societal role and mindset

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The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants released revisions Monday to the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including International Independence Standards) to place more emphasis on the role and mindset expected of all professional accountants.

The revisions explicitly state that the accounting profession is entrusted with public confidence in the wide-ranging roles played by practitioners in society, and that that confidence is based on the skills and values accountants bring to their professional activities. The revisions reaffirm the profession’s responsibility to act in the public interest, and the fundamental role of the IESBA code in meeting that responsibility.

Among other changes, the revisions reinforce aspects of the principles of integrity, objectivity and professional behavior expected of accountants. They also raise behavioral expectations of all professional accountants, requiring them to have an inquiring mind as they carry out their professional activities. The revisions stress the importance of accountants being aware of the potential influence of bias in their judgments and decisions. They also highlight the supportive role the right organizational culture can play in promoting ethical conduct and business.

“The ethical principles and behavioral expectations embodied in the code are the bedrock of the accountancy profession,” said IESBA chairman Stavros Thomadakis in a statement. “The profession is a major player in the global financial ecosystem and an indispensable facilitator of economic growth. The enhancements we have made to the code speak to the importance of protecting and strengthening public trust in it across its varied roles and activities.”

Throughout the project, the IESBA has coordinated with the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board and the former International Accounting Education Standards Board on issues common to their standards, and especially in developing the provisions addressing the mindset expected of professional accountants. All three boards are affiliated with the International Federation of Accountants.

The revisions will take effect on Dec. 31, 2021.

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