Home' Charter : 0911 Charter Sept Contents 20 Charter I September 2011
Business > Ethics
CHARTER: What does it means to be
an Institute member in terms of ethics,
professionalism and our reputation?
Rachel Grimes: Ethics is the foundation
attribute of our very being and it is critical to
protect that. The view is, it takes a lifetime to
build your reputation and it can be destroyed
in a day – and often that’s a decision-point
on an ethical basis.
Jan West: But the reputation of the
profession and the individuals that form
that profession is the sum of the parts. So,
individually each member needs to ensure
they’re doing the right thing or else the whole
reputation is impacted.
CHARTER: Ethics is fundamental to the
accountability of the profession and
its mandate to self-regulate within the
broader co-regulatory regime in Australia.
How does it piece together?
RG: We are governed by the Institute,
independent standard-setting bodies and
regulators. Leading with the Code of Ethics,
the overarching professional standards are
set by the Accounting Professional & Ethical
Standards Board. These standards require
members to conform to additional technical
standards set by the Australian Accounting
Standards Board and the Auditing and
Assurance Standards Board. Standards are
continually reviewed and updated to align
with best practice, relevant global standards
and regulatory developments.
Regulatory bodies that oversee certain
rules of operation include the ATO, ASIC
and the Companies and Liquidators
Disciplinary Board, the Tax Practitioners
Board and the Australian Prudential
Regulation Authority. As well as receiving
ongoing feedback from these regulators,
other bodies such as the Financial
Reporting Council periodically review the
CHARTER: But does self-regulation imply
JW: It means exactly the opposite to self-
interest. Being a Chartered Accountant
means maintaining the standards of the
profession, rather than just focusing on
personal business interests. First you do the
right thing by your profession in the public
interest, you do the right thing by your clients
and employer and you do the right thing by
CHARTER: What is the Institute doing
to support members in maintaining
standards and ethical practice?
RG: The deﬁnition of ethics continues
to change. With the internet and today’s
social networks, the world is much more
instantaneous and interactive – be it
WikiLeaks or SMH online. So it’s often
the people power that shifts rather than
legislation or a corporate view. We’re keen
to elevate the awareness of ethics in this
context. We’re creating a framework for
members to encourage them to put their
hand up and have conversations to query
and discuss ethics to help in their decision-
CHARTER: How are Chartered Accountants
regarded in the market today?
RG: Market surveys indicate that in the post-
GFC environment people are going back
Chartered Accountants pride themselves on
the professionalism that underpins the brand.
So how are ethics enforced? Charter talks to
Institute president Rachel Grimes FCA and
past president Jan West FCA, chair of the
professional conduct tribunal.
Story Clare Ross
to their accountants, seeking advice and
services, as their most trusted advisors.
CHARTER: Given that reputation is the
currency of the profession, how effective
is our disciplinary process?
RG: There’s nothing random in how we
discipline members. Members of the tribunal
are very well informed and are selected on a
case-by-case basis for their expertise. They
know what should have been done in the
appropriate circumstances. It’s much more
rigorous than I imagine any court would be
in terms of the deep-dive investigation. Not
that I would say a jury system is random,
but these are very well informed people who
understand what should have occurred.
The strength of our disciplinary process
is that we have to face our fellow members.
There’s no greater test than to be judged
by your peers and having a self-regulatory
function is sometimes more onerous than
any other possible procedure.
JW: Each tribunal hearing comprises two
non-members of professional standing
The Chartered Accounting profession has a mandate to discipline its members on
professional conduct matters through a formal disciplinary framework. The Institute
monitors the external environment, conducts formal investigations to identify breaches of
Institute by-laws and professional standards, and refers matters for independent hearing
and possible sanctions by the Professional Conduct Tribunal.
a question of ethics
Left: Rachel Grimes
FCA, 2011 President,
Right: Jan West AM
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