Home' Charter : 0811 Charter Aug Contents 14 Charter I August 2011
Opinion > President’s column
Ethics is a founding attribute of our
designation. I remember how proud and
excited I felt standing with my peers at my
graduation ceremony as we were read the
Charge and became fully-fledged Chartered
On behalf of the Institute of Chartered
Accountants in Australia:
I charge you by probity, diligence and skill
to deserve the confidence reposed in you
and always to bring honour to the Institute
which now honours you.
I charge you by constant study of the
profession’s literature and post graduate
education material, to acquire new skill and
new techniques, and to keep your knowledge
up to date in a changing professional world.
I charge you in all your practice, to uphold
the profession’s high standards of duty and
service and to keep your name and your
profession’s name above reproach.
I charge you to be scrupulous in your
adherence to professional ethics and thus
preserve and enhance the profession’s high
I charge you; as a recipient of the best
from the past, to give your best in aiding and
shaping the profession of tomorrow.
And finally, I charge you to uphold the
profession’s rich tradition of contributing
to deserving community services without
thought of fee or rewards.
The Charge is the profession’s equivalent
of the Hippocratic Oath. It conveys our
commitment to ethical practice which is written
in black and white in the Institute by-laws and
in our professional standards, including the
recently updated code of ethics – APES110
Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants.
Ethics is the currency of our market –
underpinned by the principles of integrity,
objectivity, professional competence and
due care, confidentiality and professional
behaviour. Therefore it’s critical we lift ethics
off the page and, using our ethics training
and our life experience, continually practise
what we pledge as new members.
The reality of applying ethics is that it’s
rarely black and white. But dealing with
ethical matters as conversations is one
way to navigate the complexities of ethical
judgement and decision-making. To facilitate
these conversations, we’re undertaking a
number of measures to keep ethics top of
mind and provide additional support.
WHY IS ETHICS TOP OF MIND?
The economic and social instability
resulting from the GFC eroded the trust
that communities, clients and investors
had in the business and financial sectors.
Business leaders are no longer implicitly
trusted. There is increased scrutiny of
ethical and strategic decision-making and
governance, and new business models
and professional accountabilities are being
reworked and remodelled.
The silver lining is that market data
tells us that people have turned to their
accountants as their most trusted advisors.
We have a greater responsibility to
demonstrate that we’re acting in the public
interest. This relationship is akin to a social
contract that assumes we’re living our
However, Chartered Accountants are not
immune from poor judgement or misconduct.
There are professional accountants who,
from time to time, unwittingly or deliberately
abuse their power as trusted advisors.
Within our co-regulatory environment, we
have a well-tested framework, processes
and programs to uphold and, when
necessary, enforce the profession’s high
technical and professional standards.
There is no room for recalcitrant conduct
in a true profession, where a respected
brand so heavily relies on the strength of
its reputation. I would offer, however, that
within the Chartered Accounting profession
transgressions are more often the exception
than the rule.
On the whole, the profession works
extremely hard to protect its standing. In
fact, of the 55,000 members of the Institute
of Chartered Accountants in Australia, only
20 had to be called to account for their
professional conduct in 2009-10.
To refocus ethics across the Institute we’ve
been holding a series of masterclasses with
the board, regional councils, our key advisory
committees and the Institute’s senior
These workshops are practical
conversations to steer thinking in ethical
leadership and build confidence in evaluating
ethical dilemmas. Our directors and council
and committee members are here to assist
all members. Remember, it takes a lifetime to
build your reputation – don’t destroy it in a day.
It’s a fact that despite the best intentions to
build and maintain strong client relationships,
discrepancies and disputes arise. Members
are welcome to access our national mediation
service, which provides a confidential and safe
way for parties to explore solutions to disputes,
as an alternative to the legal process.
If the matter is approved for mediation,
members can choose their own mediator from
an independent expert panel. The service is
completely voluntary and flexible giving parties
control over the process. Mediation may
assist parties in resolving significant matters
before they develop into serious legal issues
or breaches of professional conduct.
Members are also welcome to have ethical
conversations and discuss professional
matters with their peers through the
Chartered Accountants Advisory Group.
It consists of a panel of senior Institute
members with vast experience across public
practice and business.
We’re working to keep ethics top of mind
and provide additional support.
Rachel Grimes FCA
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