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CA ANZ Media Release – International ethics leader and CA ANZ CEO united on ethics

Chartered Accountants ANZ 3 mins read
CA ANZ CEO Ainslie van Onselen and IESBA CEO Gabriela Figueiredo Dias

28 May 2024 
 

INTERNATIONAL ETHICS LEADER AND CA ANZ CEO UNITE ON ETHICS

 

The importance of placing ethics at the centre of rapidly evolving sustainability-related financial disclosure standards, firm culture and governance, and tax planning were discussed at events hosted by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) attended by a delegation from the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA), as well as CA ANZ members. 

 

The IESBA is global standard setter with the mandate of developing independent global ethics (including independence) standards, as a cornerstone of ethical behaviour in business and organisations. It sets the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including International Independence Standards) (the IESBA Code) which has been adopted by the accounting profession across the world. The IESBA also recently released its Strategy and Work Plan, outlining the standard setter’s key areas of focus and work program over the next four years. 

 

IESBA Chair, Gabriela Figueiredo Dias, said IESBA’s visit to Australia came during a ‘particular moment’ in time. 

 

“We are somewhere in between being…concerned about the urgent need to uphold ethics in the profession and being very positive about the awareness of the profession of the importance of ethics,” Ms Figueiredo Dias said. 

 

“I’d like to see the profession…more and more taking ethics into the centre of everything they do, and to realise it’s a systemic risk and a great opportunity for them to make a difference. I want the profession to become ethical champions not only compliance focused,” she said. 

 

During discussions with the IESBA at CA ANZ offices in Sydney, CEO Ainslie van Onselen said it was a mistake to think of the Code of Ethics as a static document.  

 

“Professional ethics is woven throughout our economy, and ethics is a highly dynamic field,” Ms van Onselen said. 

“The work of the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants is critical to ensure the Code of Ethics is up-to-date, reflective of public expectations and contributes to reinforcing public trust in the profession’s work. 

“That’s why I always say ethics must be an “always-on conversation” for the profession,” Ms van Onselen said. 

At a breakfast event hosted for members, a panel discussed the important role ethics will have as accountants apply new climate-related financial disclosure standards, in legislation currently being considered by the Australian government and already in place in New Zealand. 

“There is an increasing focus on greenwashing from the regulator, which highlights the importance of ensuring sustainability disclosures have a reasonable basis,” said Karen McWilliams, CA ANZ Sustainability and Business Reform Leader.  

Ms Figueiredo Dias discussed her visit to Australia on an episode of CA ANZ’s podcast Small Firm, Big Impact, where she explained her key takeaway for firms and professional accountants, as well as work to broaden the IESBA code to other professionals such as consultants and lawyers. 

 

“In an ideal world, all of them would be abiding by the same ethical standards and taking the same considerations into their work when providing tax planning services,” she said. 

  

“It’s in the interest of everyone, namely the profession, the users of the information and for the public interest that there is a common, consistent framework applying to all of them. 

 

“This is important not only from a level playing field perspective but mostly for the public interest because it protects investors and other users of the information against any kind of wrongdoing, irrespective of who is providing the information.” 

 

CA ANZ engages with the IESBA by advocating on behalf of its members and in the public interest, through submissions and representation. The IESBA Chair acknowledged the leadership role CA ANZ is playing to prioritise ethics in the profession.  

 

“CA ANZ is very active in the conversations with IESBA. My colleagues and I have had the opportunity to be with CA ANZ representatives and members who have a good understanding of what IESBA is doing in this space as well as awareness of the problems and opportunities for the profession.  

 

“We can be positive and optimistic about the future,” Ms Figueiredo Dias said. 

 

CA ANZ supports its members to uphold strong ethical conduct through compulsory annual ethics training. 

 

From ethics micro courses and in-depth sharing knowledge sessions on how to apply ethics in practice, to the annual Professional Standards Roadshow and advocacy through representation with standard setters and regulators, CA ANZ champions ethics as the cornerstone of the accounting profession.   

 

The full podcast episode of Small Firm, Big Impact is available now on the CA ANZ website and in the usual podcast apps. 

 

 

ENDS 

Media Contact 

Gillian Bowen  
M +61 (0)411 485 421            E:
gillian.bowen@charteredaccountantsanz.com   

   

About Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand 

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand represents more than 138,000 financial professionals, supporting them to make a difference to the businesses, organisations and communities in which they work and live. Chartered Accountants are known as Difference Makers. The depth and breadth of their expertise helps them to see the big picture and chart the best course of action.  

www.charteredaccountantsanz.com  

 

 

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