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BA 427 – Assurance and Attestation Services . Lecture 13 Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct. Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct. Today’s discussion focuses on Certified Public Accountants, whether or not they are engaged in public practice.

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BA 427 – Assurance and Attestation Services

Lecture 13

Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Today’s discussion focuses on Certified Public Accountants, whether or not they are engaged in public practice.

    • Accountants who are not CPAs, and also CPAs who work in industry, may also fall under ethical standards promulgated by other accounting organizations, such as

      • The Institute of Management Accountants

      • The Institute of Internal Auditors


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • The purpose of professional ethics, in the context of the public accounting profession, is to identify the individual practitioner’s responsibility to

    • The public

    • The professional’s client

    • The professional’s colleagues


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • The hierarchy of enforcement for ethical standards

    • The individual practitioner’s under-standing and voluntary compliance

    • Monitoring by peers (e.g., coworkers)

    • Disciplinary proceedings and public opinion


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • The AICPA Code of Conduct

    • Applies explicitly to members of the AICPA

      • Some portions apply to all members, other portions apply only to members in public practice.

    • Many provisions of the Code apply to CPAs who are not members of the AICPA

      • Many provisions have been included in state statutes, or regulations promulgated by state boards of accountancy.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Many provisions have been included in state statutes, or regulations promulgated by state boards of accountancy.

For example: As a CPA licensed in the State of New Mexico, I am subject to Chapter 60 of Title 16 of the New Mexico Administrative Code, which includes:

60.5.11 Rules of Conduct

In addition to abiding by the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, New Mexico CPA/RPA certificate/license holders shall abide by the following board rules: …


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • The hierarchy of ethical standards under the Code of Conduct consists of four levels:

    • Principles

    • Rules

    • Interpretations

    • Ethics Rulings

  • The Principles and Rules together constitute the Code


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • The Principles and Rules (i.e., the Code) is adopted by a vote of the membership of the AICPA.

  • Ethics Interpretations and EthicsRulings are issued by the Executive Committee of the Professional Ethics Division of the AICPA.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Basic tenets of ethical and professional conduct. Aspirational in nature.

  • Rules

    • Enforceable ethical standards. Minimum standards.

  • Interpretations

    • Guidance on the scope and application of the rules

  • Ethics Rulings

    • Summarize the application of the Rules and Interpretations to a particular situation


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Responsibilities

    • The Public Interest

    • Integrity

    • Objectivity and Independence

    • Due Care

    • Scope and Nature of Services


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Responsibilities

      • In carrying out their responsibilities as professionals, members shouldexercise sensitive professional and moral judgments in all their activities.

      • Members of the AICPA have responsibilities to all those who use their professional services. Members also have a continuing responsibility to cooperate with each other to improve the art of accounting, maintain the public's confidence, and carry out the profession's special responsibilities for self-governance.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • The Public Interest

      • The accounting profession's public consists of clients, credit grantors, governments, employers, investors, the business and financial community, and others who rely on the objectivity and integrity of CPAs to maintain the orderly functioning of commerce. This reliance imposes a public interest responsibility on certified public accountants. The public interest is defined as the collective well-being of the community of people and institutions the profession serves.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • The Public Interest

      • In discharging their professional responsibilities, members may encounter conflicting pressures from among each of those groups. In resolving those conflicts, members should act with integrity, guided by the precept that when members fulfill their responsibility to the public, clients' and employers' interests are best served.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Integrity

      • Integrity is an element of character fundamental to professional recognition.

      • Integrity requires a member to be, among other things, honest and candid within the constraints of client confidentiality. Service and the public trust should not be subordinated to personal gain and advantage. Integrity can accommodate the inadvertent error and the honest difference of opinion; it cannot accommodate deceit or subordination of principle.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Integrity

      • Integrity requires a member to observe both the form and the spirit of technical and ethical standards; circumvention of those standards constitutes subordination of judgment.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Objectivity and Independence

      • A member should maintain objectivity and be free of conflicts of interest in discharging professional responsibilities. A member in public practice should be independent in fact and appearance when providing auditing and other attestation services.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Objectivity and Independence

      • Objectivity is a state of mind, a quality that lends value to a member's services. It is a distinguishing feature of the profession. The principle of objectivity imposes the obligation to be impartial, intellectually honest, and free of conflicts of interest. Independence precludes relationships that may appear to impair a member's objectivity in rendering attestation services.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Objectivity and Independence

      • Members often serve multiple interests in many different capacities and must demonstrate their objectivity in varying circumstances. Members in public practice render attest, tax, and management advisory services. Other members prepare financial statements in the employment of others, perform internal auditing services, and serve in financial and management capacities in industry, education, and government. They also educate and train those who aspire to admission into the profession. Regardless of service or capacity, members should protect the integrity of their work, maintain objectivity, and avoid any subordination of their judgment.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Objectivity and Independence

      • For a member in public practice, the maintenance of objectivity and independence requires a continuing assessment of client relationships and public responsibility. Such a member who provides auditing and other attestation services should be independent in fact and appearance. In providing all other services, a member should maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Objectivity and Independence

      • Although members not in public practice cannot maintain the appearance of independence, they nevertheless have the responsibility to maintain objectivity in rendering professional services. Members employed by others to prepare financial statements or to perform auditing, tax, or consulting services are charged with the same responsibility for objectivity as members in public practice and must be scrupulous in their application of GAAP and candid in all their dealings with members in public practice.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Due Care

      • Due care requires a member to discharge professional responsibilities with competence and diligence. It imposes the obligation to perform professional services to the best of a member's ability with concern for the best interest of those for whom the services are performed and consistent with the profession's responsibility to the public.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Due Care

      • Competence is derived from a synthesis of education and experience. It begins with a mastery of the common body of knowledge required for designation as a CPA. The maintenance of competence requires a commitment to learning and professional improvement that must continue throughout a member's professional life. … In all engagements and in all responsibilities, each member should undertake to achieve a level of competence that will assure that the quality of the member's services meets the high level of professionalism required by these Principles.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Due Care

      • Each member is responsible for assessing his or her own competence—of evaluating whether education, experience, and judgment are adequate for the responsibility to be assumed.

      • Members should be diligent in discharging responsibilities to clients, employers, and the public. Diligence imposes the responsibility to render services promptly and carefully, to be thorough, and to observe applicable technical and ethical standards.

      • Due care requires a member to plan and supervise adequately any professional activity for which he or she is responsible.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Scope and Nature of Services

      • Each of these Principles should be considered by members in determining whether or not to provide specific services in individual circumstances. In some instances, they may represent an overall constraint on the nonaudit services that might be offered to a specific client. No hard-and-fast rules can be developed to help members reach these judgments, but they must be satisfied that they are meeting the spirit of the Principles in this regard.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Principles

    • Scope and Nature of Services

      • In order to accomplish this, members should

        • Practice in firms that have in place internal quality-control procedures to ensure that services are competently delivered and adequately supervised.

        • Determine, in their individual judgments, whether the scope and nature of other services provided to an audit client would create a conflict of interest in the performance of the audit function for that client.

        • Assess, in their individual judgments, whether an activity is consistent with their role as professionals.


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Rules

    • Rule 101 – Independence

    • Rule 102 – Integrity and Objectivity


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Rules

    • Rule 201 – General Standards

    • Rule 202 – Compliance with Standards

    • Rule 203 – Accounting Principles


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Rules

    • Rule 301 – Confidential Client Information

    • Rule 302 – Contingent Fees


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Rules

    • Rule 501 – Acts Discreditable

    • Rule 502 – Advertising and Solicitation

    • Rule 503 – Commissions and Referral Fees

    • Rule 505 – Form of Organization and Name


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Rules: some examples:

    • A member who solicits or knowingly discloses the May 1996 or later Uniform CPA Examination question(s) and/or answer(s) without the written authorization of the AICPA shall be considered to have committed an act discreditable to the profession in violation of rule 501.

    • A member who fails to comply with applicable federal, state, or local laws or regulations regarding the timely filing of his or her personal tax returns … may be considered to have committed an act discreditable to the profession in violation of rule 501


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Rules: some examples:

    • A member in public practice shall not disclose any confidential client information without the specific consent of the client.

    • Independence would be considered to be impaired if an individual participating on the attest engagement team has a close relative who had a key position with the client, or a financial interest in the client that was material to the close relative and of which the individual has knowledge; or enabled the close relative to exercise significant influence over the client.  


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Anti-competitive provisions of the Code:

    • The Code once contained standards that had the effect of reducing competition:

      • prohibitions on advertising and solicitation

      • Prohibitions on contingent fees

    • The Federal Trade Commission initiated action against the AICPA, and in 1990 the AICPA agreed to allow

      • Advertising if it is not false or misleading

      • Contingent fees for non-attest clients


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

  • Changes to ethics standards brought about by Sarbanes-Oxley

    • The PCAOB has the authority to promulgate ethics standards for auditors who audit public companies.

    • On October 31, 2003, the SEC approved PCAOB Rule 3100: Compliance with Audited and Related Professional Practice Standards

    • Part V of Rule 3100 addresses ethics


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Lecture 13 – Professional Ethics and the Code of Conduct

Part 5 – Ethics

Rule 3500T. Interim Ethics Standards.

In connection with the preparation or issuance of any audit report, a registered public accounting firm, and its associated persons, shall comply with ethics standards, as described in the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct Rule 102, and interpretations and rulings thereunder, as in existence on April 16, 2003 (AICPA Professional Standards, ET §§ 102 and 191 (AICPA 2002)), to the extent not superseded or amended by the Board.


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