The Governance Institute of Australia’s annual Ethics Index has found that accountants are now considered as the fourth most ethical profession that people come in personal contact with, after their doctor, their pharmacist, or their nearest local hospital.
The annual index surveys over 1,000 people nationwide to gauge their perception of ethics across all sectors in Australian society.
Within the banking and finance and insurance sector, which continues to have the lowest ethics index score of all sectors, accountants continue to be perceived as most ethical, with a net score of 39 per cent, up from 30 per cent last year.
Tax agents come second at 28 per cent, an increase from 20 per cent last year.
Their scores ranked favourably when compared to financial planners and mortgage brokers, who scored 20 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively.
On the member associations front, CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand both saw a surge in their rankings, with both ranking as the top five most ethical organisations.
CPA Australia saw its score jump from 46 per cent to 57 per cent, while CA ANZ saw an increase to 52 per cent, up from 45 per cent.
Governance Institute chief executive Megan Motto said that on a whole, this was Australia’s highest ethical rating in the five years that the study has been conducted.
“Australians see our society as more ethical now than they did 12 months ago,” Ms Motto said.
“It seems that a year of hardship, in which co-operation, trust and transparency have become paramount, has changed our perceptions around how we function as a society.
“Ethics matter, in business and in society. Our survey shows that the perception of the finance industry in Australia is still recovering from the banking royal commission and other scandals, and the media is suffering the same crisis of legitimacy here as overseas. These perceptions have consequences, and our leaders need to get to work addressing them.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.