IESBA guidance on navigating the COVID-19 crisis

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) published a document entitled, COVID-19: Ethics and Independence Considerations. The nonauthoritative guidance highlights IESBA Code provisions that may be relevant to professional accountants as the pandemic heightens the pressures on them and increases the levels of threats to their compliance with the Code’s fundamental principles. A few examples: rapid transition to virtual work environments may challenge accountants charged with supervising others; virtual work may also increase the risk of a client data breach; safeguards used to mitigate threats to compliance may no longer be available; and, companies faced with liquidity issues may be more inclined to misrepresent information that reflects poorly on the business.

The guidance focuses on these areas of the Code:

• threats to the fundamental principles

• safeguards

• pressure

• preparing and presenting information

• noncompliance with laws and regulations

• fees

• non-assurance services

• long association, including partner rotation

• communication with those charged with governance

With a forward by IESBA Chair Stavros Thomadakis, the guidance provides good food for thought as we work our way through the crisis.