IESBA proposes code enhancements for role & mindset

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) is proposing changes to the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, including International Independence Standards (the Code) that promotes the appropriate role and mindset of professional accountants performing professional services and activities.

Historically, the term "professional skepticism" has appeared in the professional standards, both globally and locally, in the context of audit, review and other assurance engagements. The IESBA proposal expands that concept for use in professional practice outside of the assurance world. IESBA's proposal draws a distinct separation between the use of professional skepticism, which is absolutely essential in performing assurance services, and the role and mindset described in this proposal, which is expected of all professional accountants, including those who never perform assurance services.

In summary, the proposed changes to the Code are an important reminder to professional accountants of their significant role in society and how complying with the Code helps them fulfill their obligation to protect the public interest and: 

  • discusses the impact of certain technology on a professional accountant's mindset (e.g., "machine bias" and undue reliance);
  • strengthens the Code's fundamental principles of integrity, objectivity and professional behavior; and
  • enhances a professional accountant's application of the Code's conceptual framework by incorporating new concepts such as an "inquiring mind".

The comment period ends October 31, 2019 and the IESBA plans to approve a final standard in June 2020, with an effective date to be determined later.