In the latest article in our series outlining the purpose and activity of each of ACCA’s global forums, we shine a spotlight on one that underpins the rest – the ethics forum
This article was first published in the June 2020 UK edition of Accounting and Business magazine.
ACCA’s global forums bring together experts from around the world to help ACCA understand key issues, trends and developments across the profession.
In all, there are 13 forums:
- Accountancy Futures Academy
- Accountants for business (see AB May)
- Audit and assurance (see AB April)
- Business law
- Corporate reporting
- Education (see AB April)
- Governance, risk and performance
- Public sector
At the forums, experts from business, practice, the public sector and the academic world come together to debate professional hot topics – describing what is happening in their country or sector, and sharing problems and solutions. ACCA feeds these insights into its technical research and professional insights work – effort that later becomes known via ACCA’s publicly stated views.
ACCA is frequently called on to present its views on the development of the profession, or to comment on wider business or on society more generally. The fact that ACCA has engaged with its members on these topics, used their insights to shape its research programme and heard members’ opinions puts it in a strong position to respond to calls for input, and to participate in roundtables or contribute to publications. This in turn helps ACCA to lead the profession, influence public policy and regulation, and shape business practices on key issues.
The ACCA Global Forum for Ethics underpins and cuts across all the other forums, since ethics, according to Sundeep Takwani, ACCA director of regulatory relations, is at the core of everything accountants do. The forum helps ACCA shape its ethics policies and positions, and understand how they impact its members and students. Its work, says Takwani, is broad, but it all comes back to how the behaviour of accountants plays out in the business and society more generally.
The forum includes representatives from a wide range of countries – an essential feature in ethics, as many jurisdictions have their own challenges, and often subtly different ideas of good behaviour. One of the key challenges for this forum is that different countries have different words and expressions to describe ethics but ACCA has one global ethics code. The forum is accordingly an important place to debate the language that will ultimately govern members.
The forum also discusses areas where the application of relevant ethics standards is causing a problem in practice. This means that ACCA has a good sense of what is happening on the ground when it responds to consultations by regulators.
‘There is a lot of evidence to suggest that doing the right thing is profitable to business,’ Takwani points out. ‘Ethics is not complicated – the world is complicated! And ACCA’s ethics forum is there to play a role in defining and promoting good behaviour across the whole financial reporting chain.’