Bookkeeper and Accountants ethical principles and practices in Australia

Jan 30, 2019 by

Identify and use ethical principles and practices in own role and responsibilities

Bookkeepers and accountants are parties to financial dealings that are sensitive to an organisation and normally considered confidential. Compiling and managing financial information is sometimes tedious or demanding and requires accuracy and honesty. Bookkeeper’s codes of ethics or professional conduct are a framework for helping bookkeepers act ethically. One way to become a bookkeeper is by enrolling in a bookkeeping course e.g. Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping class details here. You can also choose to be an accountant by studying a Diploma of Accounting class information here.

Code of ethics for accountants and bookkeepers

Most professional organisations have a code of ethics that its members must obey. A code of ethics is a system of moral principles governing appropriate conduct for the members of the organisation. Adhering to a code of ethics maintains a credible image for members of the organisation and the profession in general.

Members of a professional organisation who fail to comply with the code of ethics are likely to be expelled from the organisation and not be able to include membership in materials used to promote the bookkeeper’s services. If membership of a professional organisation is mandated under legislation, expulsion may mean the offender cannot continue trading as a bookkeeper.

Codes included in a code of ethics can include those covering:

  • integrity
  • objectivity
  • duty of care
  • confidentiality
  • competency
  • development

Above all, bookkeepers are expected to act with honesty and integrity including compliance with relevant legislation. This includes acts that would bring the profession into disrepute or breach public trust. Bookkeepers should not do anything that would breach the specific trust of an employer or client, or other stakeholders. In particular bookkeepers should adhere to the strictest confidentiality in all their dealings with employers or clients.

Bookkeepers and accountants should not do anything that would prevent them from reviewing financial records properly. They should be impartial and unbiased, combining control with sound professional judgement. Data should never be fabricated or distorted in any way.

A bookkeeper and accountant has a duty of care to their employer or client. They need to understand their employer or client’s needs so they can provide the service required. They must safeguard their client’s interests. If, however, providing a service means compromising the bookkeeper’s ethics (such as breaking the law or damaging a third party’s interests), they should notify the client immediately and agree on an alternative action.

Given the importance of recording and processing financial data, and the repercussions of getting it wrong, a bookkeeper must keep in mind their own abilities and limitations. They should only accept work they believe they are competent to perform and refuse work for which they do not have the necessary skills, qualifications, or accreditations.

Legislation covering bookkeeping, especially taxation laws, are constantly changing. An ethical bookkeeper must keep abreast of changes affecting their profession—new products and tools for the bookkeeper are constantly emerging. This means the ethical bookkeeper has a professional development plan, allowing them to keep abreast of the changes so they can continue to provide the best service for their employers or client.

Some professional organisations require their members to provide proof of professional development or other learning each time their membership falls due.

Code of professional conduct for Accountants and Bookkeepers

The Australian Government Tax Practitioners Board (Board) has published a Code of Professional Conduct (Code) as part of tax agent legislation. The Code is a legislated code that defines the professional and ethical standards required of registered tax agents and BAS agents. It outlines the duties agents owe to their clients, the Board, and other agents.

The code has 14 core principles aligned with five categories:

  • honesty and integrity
  • independence
  • confidentiality
  • competence
  • other responsibilities

Author Bio: Hi, I am Subhajit Khara a passionate blogger and marketing manager. I am the CEO of actwitty.com

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