1 Continuing Professional Education Provided By Leo R. Moretti, CPA, CGMA
2 Ethics General Session Updated January 2013 LEO R. MORETTI, CPA, CGMA
3 We Will Discuss: Ethics In General Ethics In Life Professional Ethics Accounting Ethics History of Ethics Teaching Ethics Then We ll Have Some Fun With Ethics
4 Aristotle s Ethics
5 Aristotle s Ethics Aristotle conceives of ethical theory as a field distinct from the theoretical sciences. Its methodology must match its subject matter-good action-and must respect the fact that in this field many generalizations hold only for the most part. We study ethics in order to improve our lives, and therefore its principal concern is the nature of human well-being. Aristotle follows Socrates and Plato in taking the virtues to be central to a well-lived life. Like Plato, he regards the ethical virtues (justice, courage, temperance and so on) as complex rational, emotional and social skills. But he rejects Plato's idea that a training in the sciences and metaphysics is a necessary prerequisite for a full understanding of our good. What we need, in order to live well, is a proper appreciation of the way in which such goods as friendship, pleasure, virtue, honor and wealth fit together as a whole. In order to apply that general understanding to particular cases, we must acquire, through proper upbringing and habits, the ability to see, on each occasion, which course of action is best supported by reasons. Therefore practical wisdom, as he conceives it, cannot be acquired solely by learning general rules. We must also acquire, through practice, those deliberative, emotional, and social skills that enable us to put our general understanding of wellbeing into practice in ways that are suitable to each occasion.
6 The Chambers English Dictionary (1998 edition) highlights important distinctions between ethics and morals: ethics-the science of morals, that branch of philosophy which is concerned with human character and conduct: a system of morals, rules of behavior: a treatise on morals; moral-of or relating to character or conduct considered as good or evil: ethical: conformed to or directed towards right, virtuous: esp. virtuous in matters of sex: capable of knowing right and wrong: subject to the moral law; morality-quality of being moral: that which renders an action right or wrong: the practice of moral duties apart from religion: virtue: the doctrine of actions as right or wrong.
7 Definitions of: ethics [Thomas Edison] Definition: The science of human duty; the body of rules of duty drawn from this science; a particular system of principles and rules concerting duty, whether true or false; rules of practice in respect to a single class of human actions; as, political or social ethics; medical ethics.
8 Webster's Definition of ETHICS The discipline dealing with what is GOOD and BAD and with MORAL duty and obligation...a set of moral principles and values.
9 Webster's Definition of MORALS a: moral practices or teachings: modes of conduct b:ethics
10 ETHICS VS. MORALS In modern culture the terms ETHICS and MORALS are virtual synonyms. Quite frankly the confusion over the interchangeableness of these two terms is understandable. BUT it is WRONG!
11 What are Ethics? Ethics is what is normative, ABSOLUTE. It refers to a SET OF STANDARDS around which we organize our lives and from which we define our duties and obligations. It results in a set of imperatives that establishes behavior patterns that are acceptable. It is what people OUGHT TO DO!
12 By contrast...morality? Morality is more concerned with what people do. It describes what people are already doing, often regardless of any ABSOLUTE SET OF STANDARDS. The problem arises when the NORM is identified with that which is ABSOLUTE.
13 Professional Ethics The concept of Professional Ethics is partly comprised of what a professional should or should not do in the work place. It also encompasses a much greater part of the professionals life. If a professional is to have ethics then that person needs to adopt that conduct in all of his dealings. Professional societies around the world have on their websites professional codes of ethics to consider and adopt in the way professionals conduct themselves in and out of the work place. Things that are included are concepts like: professional respect, avoidance of dishonest or fraudulent activity such as plagiarism and the professional development of the individual. Another aspect of this is the enhancement of the profession and the industry within which the professional works. This concerns a professional's conduct and behavior while carrying out their professional work. This then, is work for the good of the community and mankind!
14 Things to Do 1. Do return value to your client (internal and external) in all business decisions 2. Do return value to your community locally and globally 3. Do deliver quality in a timely fashion 4. Do be honest in your work by telling the client, that the task or project you are working on will not meet the target date. 5. Do ask for help in order to meet the project or task deadline. A professional will not feel slighted if he or she acknowledges that he or she needs help. 6. When you accept an assignment, Do start using words like we, us and ours. 7. If the employer wants respect from employees, he/she should treat all employees as professionals in their own right. Remember, if you treat someone as a professional, they will (hopefully) treat you like one too. 8. Promote your profession 9. Do things for the good of yourself, the client and the profession. You are not a true professional if you don't deliver outcomes that satisfy all three of these areas. 10. Do provide respect to others. This means truly thinking of their beliefs and desires,
15 Accounting ethics From Wikipedia Accounting ethics is primarily a field of applied ethics, the study of moral values and judgments as they apply to accountancy. It is an example of professional ethics. Accounting ethics were first introduced by Luca Pacioli, and later expanded by government groups, professional organizations, and independent companies. Ethics are taught in accounting courses at higher education institutions as well as by companies training accountants and auditors. Accountants and the accountancy profession exist as a means of public service; the distinction which separates a profession from a mere means of livelihood is that the profession is accountable to standards of the public interest, and beyond the compensation paid by clients. --Robert H. Montgomery, describing ethics in accounting
16 Importance of ethics The nature of the work carried out by accountants and auditors requires a high level of ethics. Shareholders, potential shareholders, and other users of the financial statements rely heavily on the yearly financial statements of a company as they can use this information to make an informed decision about investment. They rely on the opinion of the accountants who prepared the statements, as well as the auditors that verified it, to present a true and fair view of the company. Knowledge of ethics can help accountants and auditors to overcome ethical dilemmas, allowing for the right choice that, although it may not benefit the company, will benefit the public who relies on the accountant/auditor's reporting.
17 History Luca Pacioli, the "Father of Accounting", wrote on accounting ethics in his first book Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni, et proportionalita, published in Ethical standards have since then been developed through government groups, professional organizations, and independent companies. These various groups have led accountants to follow several codes of ethics to perform their duties in a professional work environment. Accountants must follow the code of ethics set out by the professional body of which they are a member. United States accounting societies such as the Association of Government Accountants, Institute of Internal Auditors, and the National Association of Accountants all have codes of ethics, and many accountants are members of one or more of these societies.
18 History (Continued) In 1887, the American Association of Public Accountants (AAPA) was created; it was the first step in developing professionalism in the United States accounting industry. By 1905, the AAPA's first ethical codes were formulated to educate its members. During its twentieth anniversary meeting in October 1907, ethics was a major topic of the conference among its members. As a result of discussions, a list of professional ethics was incorporated into the organization's bylaws. However, because membership to the organization was voluntary, the association could not require individuals to conform to the suggested behaviors. Other accounting organizations, such as the Illinois Institute of Accountants, also pursued discussion on the importance of ethics for the field.
19 History (Continued) The AAPA was renamed several times throughout its history, before becoming the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) as its named today. The AICPA developed five divisions of ethical principles that its members should follow: "independence, integrity, and objectivity"; "competence and technical standards"; "responsibilities to clients"; "responsibilities to colleagues"; as well as "other responsibilities and practices. Each of these divisions provided guidelines on how a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) should act as a professional. Failure to comply with the guidelines could have caused an accountant to be barred from practicing. When developing the ethical principles, the AICPA also considered how the profession would be viewed by those outside of the accounting industry.
20 Teaching ethics Universities began teaching business ethics in the 1980s. Courses on this subject have grown significantly in the last couple of decades. Teaching accountants about ethics can involve role playing, lectures, case studies, guest lectures, as well as other mediums. Recent studies indicate that nearly all accounting textbooks touch on ethics in some way. In 1993, the first United States center that focused on the study of ethics in the accounting profession opened at State University of New York at Binghamton. Starting in 1999, several U.S. states began requiring ethics classes prior to taking the CPA exam.
21 Seven goals of accounting ethics education Relate accounting education to moral issues. Recognize issues in accounting that have ethical implications. Develop "a sense of moral obligation" or responsibility. Develop the abilities needed to deal with ethical conflicts or dilemmas. Learn to deal with the uncertainties of the accounting profession. "Set the stage for" a change in ethical behavior. Appreciate and understand the history and composition of all aspects of accounting ethics and their relationship to the general field of ethics.
22 Teaching ethics (Continued) There has been debate on whether ethics should be taught in a university setting. Supporters point out that ethics are important to the profession, and should be taught to accountants entering the field. In addition, the education would help to reinforce students ethical values and inspire them to prevent others from making unethical decisions. Critics argue that an individual is ethical or not, and that teaching an ethics course would serve no purpose. Despite opposition, instruction on accounting ethics by universities and conferences, has been encouraged by professional organizations and accounting firms. The Accounting Education Change Commission (AECC) has called for students to "know and understand the ethics of the profession and be able to make value-based judgments.
23 Teaching ethics (Continued) Some argued that in order to uphold strong ethics, an accountant "must have a strong sense of values, the ability to reflect on a situation to determine the ethical implications, and a commitment to the well-being of others. Some recommend an ethics model consisting of four steps: the accountant must recognize that an ethical dilemma is occurring; identify the parties that would be interested in the outcome of the dilemma; determine alternatives and evaluate its effect on each alternative on the interested parties; and then select the best alternative.
24 Recent Changes in Ethics Standards
25 Recent Changes in Ethics Standards 2012 Over the past six months, there have been several changes in ethics standards contained in the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. These changes could impact you or your practice, so we wanted you to be aware of some of them. Unless otherwise indicated, these revisions were effective on November 30, 2011.
26 Applying Independence Rules to Affiliates Interpretation , Application of the Independence Rules to Affiliates, was issued in August 2011 to clarify which entities should be considered affiliates of attest clients. Entities that may be considered affiliates can be put into two categories-traditional entities and nontraditional entities. Traditional entities include parents, subsidiaries, sister entities, and other entities that can be controlled by the client. Nontraditional entities include trustees that control the client, and employee benefit plans sponsored by the client or an entity controlled by the client. In addition, for clients that are employee benefit plans, affiliates include the plan sponsor or, for multiple or multiemployer plans, a participating employer with significant influence over the plan.
27 Applying Independence Rules to Affiliates (Continued) Why does the definition of affiliate matter? If an entity is considered an affiliate of an attest client, the independence rules for the CPA also generally apply to the affiliate entity. (Four exceptions are provided in the Interpretation, however, so you should read the Interpretation in its entirety and consider those exceptions.)
28 Practical Consideration: This Interpretation is not effective until January 1, 2014, but early implementation is permitted.
29 Teaching for an Educational Institution Accounting instructors are currently in short supply. What if a partner or professional employee of your firm wants to be an adjunct faculty member for an educational institution that's also a client of the firm? Would this impair the firm's independence? Interpretation , Permitted Employment With Client Educational Institution, states that such a position would not impair independence as long as the partner or employee- Doesn't hold a key position at the institution; Doesn't participate on the attest engagement team; Isn't in a position to influence the engagement team; Is only employed on a part-time, nontenure basis; Doesn't participate in any employee benefit plans sponsored by the institution (unless participation is required); and Doesn't set policies for or have management responsibilities with the institution.
30 Marketing Professional Services Interpretation , False, Misleading, or Deceptive Acts in Promoting or Marketing Professional Services, was issued in August It states that a CPA who makes false, misleading, or deceptive claims about his or her experience, qualifications, or ability to provide professional services has committed an act discreditable to the profession.
31 Confidential Client Information A new definition was recently added to the Code of Professional Conduct. Confidential client information is defined as any information obtained from the client that is not available to the public. To go with the definition, Ethics Ruling No.2, Disclosure of Client Information to Third Parties, was revised to clarify that a CPA who discloses confidential client information to a third party without the client's specific consent would be a violation of the Rule 301 confidentiality requirements. The client's specific consent should address the nature of information to be disclosed, to whom it may be disclosed, and the intended use. The consent preferably should be in writing.
32 Further Guidance on Confidential Information As employees or volunteers, CPAs are often exposed to confidential information. Interpretation 501-9, Confidential information obtained from Employment or Volunteer Activities, indicates that CPA members who disclose or use any confidential employer information acquired through employment or volunteer relationships (Without proper authority or consent of the employer) will have committed an act discreditable to the profession. Furthermore, the requirement to maintain the confidentiality of an employer's confidential information doesn't end when the relationship with the employer ends. CPAs aren't allowed to use that confidential information for personal advantage or for the advantage of a third party such as a new employer. However, experience and expertise gained through prior employment relationships
33 Practical Consideration: The AICPA's Professional Ethics Committee (PEEC) has also issued two new omnibus ethics exposure drafts, dated September 23, 2011 and November 30, The exposure drafts can be found on the AICPA website at ProfessionalEthics/ Pages/ProfessionalEthics.aspx.
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