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Demonstrate the application of professional ethics, values and judgment

PO 1 is linked to Paper P1, Governance, Risk and Ethics

As a professional accountant, you must consistently demonstrate an ethically sound approach to all aspects of your work, upholding ACCA’s Code of Conduct and Ethics and taking personal responsibility for the decisions you make.

To perform effectively, you need to:

  • uphold (and be seen to uphold) professional ethics, values and standards
  • behave with integrity and objectivity – for example, act independently and avoid any conflict of interest
  • maintain professional competence, confidentiality and due care.

Demonstrating a sound ethical awareness, living out your values and applying your judgment in practice are not one-off requirements; you will need to place ethics at the heart of all your work, throughout your professional career.

To achieve this performance objective, you will need to keep ethics very much at the forefront of your mind, whatever activity you engage in.

  • Document situations where you have had to consider the ethical angle of tasks you have been instructed to perform – for instance, if your supervisor asks you to make a false accounting entry, or if you have to process an expense claim that you know to be fraudulent, how did you handle the situation? What did you learn from the experience?
  • Think of instances where you have been unsure of the ethical nature of the situation you found yourself in – such as being treated exceptionally favourably by a supplier keen to increase business with your organisation, or discovering records on a client audit that you suspect to be deliberately falsified. At what stage did you raise the matter with a superior, or did you resolve it yourself? How was your ethical awareness enhanced in the process?
  • Write about when you may have observed unethical behaviour in your colleagues. What made you suspicious? What went through your mind? How would you tackle the situation differently in future?
  • What have you learned, or drawn conclusions from, about high-profile financial, business, or even political activities you’ve read about or watched on the news? What do you think is the difference between behaviour that’s unethical and behaviour that actually breaks rules?
  • Ensure you keep up to date with ACCA’s codes of conduct and professional standards.
  • How regular or in-depth is your own personal monitoring of your compliance with legislation, standards and regulations as you go about your daily routine?
  • Identify who within your organisation is responsible for providing ethical advice or managing compliance with relevant legislation, rules or regulations – and document occasions when you have sought their advice: why, when, and what was the outcome?

These examples are not obligatory – think of ways in which you might demonstrate achievement of this objective according to the demands and nature of your own job.

The next step is to answer the three unique challenge questions for this objective in My Experience, accessed via myACCA:

  • Can you describe an occasion on which you had to demonstrate ethical behaviour?
  • What did you learn from this experience and how will it influence your future behaviour in the workplace?
  • What would have been the impact had you not behaved ethically in this situation?

Last updated: 13 Jun 2013