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Accountants 'must help rebuild public trust'
Accountancy News |
Accountancy firms have an important role to play in rebuilding public trust in the professions, it has been claimed.
Mark Spofforth, the new president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), noted that trust is "fundamental to a well-run economy and a properly functioning society".
And in order for there to be trust, it is important that businesses and organisations act professionally and ethically at all times.
"The public’s confidence in the professions has been reduced and this trend must be reversed," Mr Spofforth commented.
"The accountancy profession must work hard to do so and demonstrate that it deserves people’s trust."
He said accountants must show understanding and respond to concerns raised by clients and ordinary citizens.
We must focus on doing what we are trained to do and do it well," the ICAEW president added.
Mr Spofforth noted that successful audit has a key role to play in re-establishing confidence.
In this area, reform should be based on improvements that will promote trust and develop service quality, rather than simply add to the audit process, it has been claimed.
"We need both rules and principles-based ethical standards for auditors to determine which non-audit services can be offered alongside audit, for example," Mr Spofforth added.
"Over-regulation, however, could be detrimental to judgement, replacing it with box-ticking, which could result in talent being discouraged from joining the profession."
Elizabeth Higgs, ICAEW’s ethics and integrity manager, claimed this week that the need for integrity "has never been as widely recognised as now".
"Whatever other factors may have been responsible for the phone hacking practices at News Corporation, MPs’ misuse of expenses, or dismissing a whistle-blower by Olympus, a lack of integrity played a part," she stated.
Ms Higgs claimed that integrity is "much-desired but little-understood".
"It is also something organisations must actively seek to promote. All organisations and businesses must take responsibility for their integrity; promoting it actively and monitoring if carefully, but professional bodies have a particular role in emphasising [its importance]."
Posted by Stephen Wilkinson
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