Ethics for Accountants
This unit seeks to ensure that students have an excellent understanding of why accountants need to act ethically, of the principles of ethical working, of what is meant by ethical behaviour at work, and of when and how to take action in relation to unethical behaviour and illegal acts.
Students will learn the core aspects of the ethical code for accountants as it relates to their work as accounting technicians and as exemplified in the AAT Code of Professional Ethics. They will understand the ethical principles of integrity, objectivity, professional competence and due care, and professional behaviour and confidentiality, and they will learn to apply these principles to analyse and judge ethical situations at work. They will also understand that acting ethically derives from core personal and organisational values, such as honesty, transparency and fairness, as well as from professional ethics. Understanding the conceptual framework of principles, threats and safeguards contained in the ethical code, plus its process for ethical conflict resolution, will enable students to apply a systematic approach to ethical problems that they may encounter.
In studying this unit, students will therefore develop skills in analysing problems and in judging between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ behaviour in a given context. They will also be able to identify alternative courses of action to resolve an ethical problem and select the most appropriate action in the circumstances. Money laundering regulations mean that accountants can be exposed to legal liability for keeping quiet in certain circumstances or for telling the wrong person about suspected wrongdoing. Students will learn when and how money laundering regulations apply and their responsibilities in respect of them. They will also learn about reporting to the authorities in respect of suspected money laundering. In certain other circumstances, it may be appropriate for an accountant to report, ‘speak up’ or blow the whistle on unethical behaviour. Students will also understand the basis and nature of the accountant’s ethical responsibilities to uphold sustainability in their organisation.
- Understand the need to act ethically
- Understand the relevance to the accountant’s work of the ethical code for professional accountants
- Recognise how to act ethically in an accounting role
- Identify action to take in relation to unethical behaviour or illegal acts