ICAAP members are required to comply with the requirements of the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). A distinguishing mark of the accountancy professionals is that trust in the results of their activities directly depends on the strict adherence to professional ethical requirements. The IFAC Code of Ethics is the basis for defining these ethical requirements and establishes the standards of conduct for accounting and auditing professionals when they exercise their professional activities.
First of all, the IFAC Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants demands from accounting and auditing professionals to act in the public interest. Therefore, the responsibility of a professional is not only to meet the needs of an individual client or an employer.
The IFAC Code of Ethics consists of three parts:
Part A. General Application of the Code
Part B. Professional Accountants in Public Practice
Part C. Professional Accountants in Business
Part A establishes the fundamental principles of professional ethics for professional accountants and provides a conceptual framework that professional accountants shall apply to:
1) identify threats to compliance with the fundamental principles;
2) evaluate the significance of the threats identified; and
3) apply safeguards, when necessary, to eliminate the threats or reduce them to an acceptable level.
Parts B and C describe how the conceptual framework applies in certain situations. They provide examples of safeguards that may be appropriate to address threats to compliance with the fundamental principles. They also describe situations where safeguards are not available to address the threats, and consequently, the circumstance or relationship creating the threats shall be avoided. Part B applies to professional accountants in public practice. Part C applies to professional accountants in business. Professional accountants in public practice may also find Part C relevant to their particular circumstances.
According to Part A, accounting and auditing professionals should adhere to the following fundamental principles of professional ethics:
1) integrity – to be straightforward and honest in all professional and business relationships;
2) objectivity – to not allow bias, conﬂict of interest or others to override professional or business judgments;
3) professional competence and due care – to maintain professional knowledge and skill at the level required to ensure that a client or employer receives competent professional service based on current developments in practice, legislation and techniques and act diligently and in accordance with applicable technical and professional standards;
4) confidentiality – to respect the confidentiality of information acquired as a result of professional and business relationships and, therefore, not disclose any such information to third parties without proper and specific authority, unless there is a legal or professional right or duty to disclose, nor use the information for the personal advantage of the professional accountant or third parties;
5) professional behavior – to comply with relevant laws and regulations and avoid any action that discredits the profession.
The IFAC Code of Ethics establishes a conceptual framework that requires a professional accountant to identify, evaluate, and address threats to compliance with the fundamental principles. When a professional accountant identifies threats to compliance with the fundamental principles and, based on an evaluation of those threats, determines that they are not at an acceptable level, the professional accountant shall determine whether appropriate safeguards are available and can be applied to eliminate the threats or reduce them to an acceptable level.
Taking the IFAC Code of Ethics requirements as a basis, ICAAP develops and implements into the practice of its members in various techniques, regulations, models that will help to comply with ethical requirements in specific situations.