Accountants are embracing modern technologies in various roles. Technology makes accountants more efficient and improves the way they analyse data.
While speaking at the 2020 Practitioners’ Forum in January, Winnie Tarinyeba, a member of the International Ethics Standards Board of Accountants (IESBA) noted that whereas modern technologies have transformational and far reaching benefits, ethical issues and dilemmas such as undue influence, biased decisions and unfair treatment, breach of privacy and threats to public health and safety remain a significant risk.
She emphasized that the responsibility for professional judgement remains a preserve of professional accountants.
“A distinguishing mark of the accountancy profession is its acceptance of the duty to act in the public interest,” Prof. Tarinyeba said. “Professional accountants should encourage and promote an ethics based culture in organisations. They should show critical consideration for the users of information, adhere to professional standards, and provide advice that is fit for the intended purpose.
Prof. Tarinyeba emphasized:
- Building trust. Emphasize the broader societal role of the professional accountant.
- Professional competence and due care: Have a broad mindset, possess soft skills, understand how technologies work, analyse the information and be able to analyse the data.
- Integrity – integrity is central to the role of the professional accountant
- Confidentiality – issues of privacy & data protection.
- Enhancing auditor independence provisions to address threats created by sale or licensing technology applications to audit clients.
CPA Frederick Kibbedi, the President of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda noted that professional ethics will keep accountants relevant in the face of advancing technologies. “Remaining true to ethics is therefore what is going to redeem us from being over ridden by technology,’ CPA Kibbedi said. “The business advisory that the public trusts that we are doing can only be protected through the professional values that we espouse,” he added.
The IESBA is an independent global standard setter formed in 2005. It is the successor to International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Ethics Committee. The IESBA is chaired by Dr. Stavros Thomadakis. Its diverse board membership comprises global representation from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America. IESBA conducts webinars, to help create awareness. The Code has an outreach programme: members visit various jurisdictions to create awareness of the Code.
In 2019, the IESBA analysed technology developments in relation to ethics principles.
The IESBA is currently working with IFAC and Professional Accountancy Organisations to address the issue of translation of the revised and restructured Code of Ethics, to promote the adoption of more recent versions.
Organised by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU), the Practitioners’ Forum provides a platform for accountants in public practice to discuss current and emerging trends in accountancy practice.