New publication from CPA Canada, ICAS and IFAC explores ethics in an era of complexity and digital change

August 19, 2021

Published: IFAC

As the world becomes more complex, maintaining ethical standards becomes both more challenging and increasingly important. To help guide financial professionals, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) have released Complexity and the professional accountant: Practical guidance for ethical decision-making, the first in a series of four thought leadership pieces.

“We’re on a journey to reimagine the future of the accounting profession,” said Charles-Antoine St-Jean, president and CEO, CPA Canada. “Digital disruption and shifting societal expectations are redefining the role of professional accountants around the world. Our collective response to these opportunities, challenges, and ethical implications will impact our ability to remain trusted leaders, on the forefront of change. This paper, and those to follow, contribute to important conversations as we adapt and help shape the future.”

This initial publication developed by CPA Canada builds on a collaborative exploratory paper and global roundtable event, called Ethical Leadership in an Era of Complexity and Digital Change, held in conjunction with ICAS and IFAC. The first of the series addresses key themes presented in the exploratory work, leveraging the event discussions and recommendations, to offer practical guidance for professional accountants, accounting organizations, educators and employers.

“Ethical leadership is crucial to the future success of the accountancy profession, and the global financial system as a whole,” said Kevin Dancey, CEO of IFAC. “As a profession, it is our core ethical foundation, coupled with our skills and competencies, that enable us to navigate the opportunities and challenges of the digital age, while maintaining our public interest responsibility.”

The development of Complexity and the professional accountant: Practical guidance for ethical decision-making was also informed by the ongoing work of the Technology Working Group of the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) and the diverse views of stakeholders gathered through its extensive outreach.

“The accounting profession needs to continually evolve to address changing stakeholder needs while continuing to meet its’ public interest responsibility” notes, Bruce Cartwright CA, ICAS CEO, adding: “The only certainty is that there will be more regular advancements in technology. It is therefore imperative that we properly consider the associated ethical implications of technology and help shape the future.”

Complexity and the professional accountant: Practical guidance for ethical decision-making, along with the collaborative exploratory paper, a summary of the February 2021 event, including an on-demand recording and additional resources, are all available on the IFAC Knowledge Gateway.

The upcoming papers in the series will cover the following interconnected but distinct topics:

·         Technology is a double-edged sword

·         Identifying and mitigating bias and mis-/disinformation

·         Mindset and enabling skills


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