The professional body has outlined 14 actions and recommendations for members, firms and the government to rebuild public trust in the accounting profession.
CA ANZ triples member ethics training, mandates annual pledge
CA ANZ will triple ethics CPD requirements for members and force them to publicly declare their commitment to the chartered accountant’s code in a bid to repair public trust in the accounting profession, according to an action plan released yesterday.
The document, titled Going Further: A roadmap to enhanced trust and accountability, also reiterated CA ANZ’s plan to ramp up fines for misbehaving members and urged the government to strengthen whistleblower protections.
“High-profile ethical issues have highlighted the need to strengthen the awareness, training, and explicit commitment of all members, including affiliates, to professional ethics,” CA ANZ said.
“Going Further sets out 14 actions and recommendations that will help CA ANZ and its stakeholders to further support our shared commitment to the highest standards of trust and accountability in the profession and the economy more broadly.”
CA ANZ said all members would be required to annually and formally reaffirm their intention to comply with the “Chartered Accountants Commitment”, making members’ “expression of a commitment to ethics, public interest, and integrity more regular and explicit”.
This would involve members pledging to preserve the professional ethics of accountants in whatever capacities they might be serving and to promote quality, expertise and integrity in the profession, it said.
Mandatory ethics training would also be tripled to six hours every three years as part of members’ total CPD requirement of 120 hours over the same period.
Meanwhile, CA ANZ said it would update by-laws to strengthen the investigative powers of its standards committee and increase maximum fines for firms that breach its professional conduct framework fivefold.
Consequently, the current maximum fine of $50,000, derided as a “slap on the wrist” when imposed on PwC in November, would be increased to $250,000.
The by-law changes follow recommendations from an independent review of the body’s professional conduct framework released last year, instigated in the wake of the KPMG’s exam cheating scandal that implicated over 400 members.
The plan also called on the government to improve the transparency and reporting of large professional services firms to disclose details such as entity size, assets, turnover, partner count and their thresholds for audit transparency reporting requirements.
“There is currently limited mandatory reporting regarding the financial position and results of large professional services firms or their remuneration structures. Recent inquiries and public expectation have called for increased transparency,” the plan said.
It recommended the government clarify ASIC’s power to regulate audit firms, strengthen whistleblower protections for audit team members and implement all reforms proposed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services.
“We believe these actions will help us better navigate the challenges and opportunities ahead and, especially, will help to reinforce public trust in both the profession and institutions critical to proper functioning of capital markets,” CA ANZ said.