Ethics – a rare commodity
“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world” – Albert Camus
Based on the recent events in South Africa, ethics should be a buzzword you are quite familiar with. South Africa, specifically the audit industry, has been rocked by two major scandals in the recent past, which was both caused by the same root problem – a lack of ethical behaviour. The results of which had severe consequences for a lot of South Africans.
In both of these scandals, a range of professionals was deemed to be at fault for the lack of ethical behaviour. Numerous questions were specifically raised regarding the role that the registered auditors and chartered accountants should have fulfilled in the prevention of the unethical behaviour which occurred. The questions raised made it quite clear that there’s a degree of uncertainty in the business world regarding the exact responsibilities of the accountants and auditors in business.
Chartered accountants and registered auditors are both required to adhere to the “Code of Professional Conduct for Registered Auditors” (The Code). The Code prescribes the fundamental principles to which the professionals need to adhere, in order to meet the ethical requirements of the profession when providing any audit services. The fundamental principles are as follows:
As with most things in life, acting ethically is easier said than done. The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) has strived to promote ethical behaviour by incorporating the Code as part of the study material on university level for all chartered accountants. The Code thus seems to be adhered to on a theoretical level, when there are consequences of not adhering to The Code. In practice/business, however, the incentive and possible financial gain seem to outweigh the consequences of not adhering to The Code, which causes unethical behaviour to become quite rewarding.
At ASL, one of the values which the Audit Department strives to encompass in their daily dealings is to be “client-centric”. In essence, we strive to deliver excellent service to our clients through the following ethical behaviours:
Link to the Code of Professional Conduct
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)