Revised AICPA Code of Professional Conduct is Now Available

Posted on June 24, 2014 View More News

From making the right determination on accepting gifts from vendors, to deciding whether it is appropriate to audit a friend’s business, CPAs face ethical concerns each day. One thing is certain: ethical decisions often need to be reached quickly, which is why the AICPA’s Ethics Division and the Professional Ethics Executive Committee undertook a project in 2008 to restructure the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct for quick and easy navigation. The revised code is now available at www.aicpa.org/newcode and will be effective starting December 15, 2014 with early adoption encouraged. The updated code lives on a new and dynamic online platform, is broken down into different parts by line of practice, is intuitively arranged by topic and where necessary subtopic and section and incorporates the conceptual framework approach all while retaining the substance of the existing AICPA ethics standards. “The revised AICPA Code of Professional Conduct is streamlined in a contemporary manner. The new code will allow our members to find the answers to their ethical queries easily” said Jim Hasselman, chair of the HSCPA Professional Ethics committee.

Electronic Format

The revised code is accessible on a new and dynamic electronic platform. This platform not only allows the user to conduct and save basic and advanced searches but also includes the ability to email links, create and name bookmarks and add and save notes while reviewing the code. In addition, the code features pop-ups for defined terms as well as hyperlinks connecting to other relevant content within the code as well as external non-authoritative material issued by staff of the Ethics Division. The Code of Professional Conduct’s new online capabilities will facilitate a more user-friendly experience.

Intuitively Arranged

The reformatted code is arranged into three parts.Part 1 applies to AICPA members in public practice; Part 2 to members in business; and Part 3 to all other members, including those who are retired or between jobs. This new organization allows members to easily access relevant sections of the code, based on their line of practice. Additionally, the code is organized by topic and where appropriate, subtopic and section. As a result, members in business will not have to sort through topics applicable for members in public practice such as independence and confidential client information. These changes to the code’s organizational structure will allow members to apply the rules and reach correct conclusions quickly and efficiently.

Conceptual Framework Approach

The most significant change to the Professional Code of Conduct is the incorporation of two conceptual frameworks, one for members in public practice and one for members in business. The conceptual framework approach, also known as the “threats and safeguards” approach, is a way of identifying, evaluating and addressing threats that may exist and safeguards that may be applied to eliminate or reduce those threats to an acceptable level. The conceptual framework is used for areas where the code lacks guidance. This new section broadens the reach of the code by allowing members to reach conclusions even if specific guidance is not written in the code.

The AICPA Professional Ethics Executive Committee (PEEC) and the Professional Ethics Division are pleased to share the revised Professional Code of Conduct in its new format,www.aicpa.org/newcode. The code has an effective date of December 15, 2014, with a delayed effective date for the Conceptual Frameworks. Early implementation is encouraged. For information and resources on the Ethics Codification project, including implementation tools, visit www.aicpa.org/ethicscodification.

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