On Cima’s code of ethics – CIMA and a question of ethics.

Colin Fisher and Alan Lovell’s report has usefully contributed to the debate on ethics in CIMA. The institute is revising its code of ethics to take into account issues which are included in the IFAC code of ethics and those which have become more important since the last revision in 1997/1998. These include whistleblowing and money laundering, which have both been subject to subsequent legislation (The Public Interest Disclosure Act and the money laundering regulations).

The report has stimulated discussion and its recommendations are being considered. The empirical research contained has provided some original material CIMA was lacking. CIMA’s Ethics Board wants members to uphold the highest moral standards, irrespective of whether they work in management accounting or business management. The report reminds us members and students are human and there will be times when they may not react as their association wishes. Self-preservation, and the assurance of a monthly salary, may be an overriding consideration in difficult circumstances.

One of the book’s most useful suggestions is a collegial approach to ethical issues among management accountants; the board supports this.

Some matters have provoked concern, including the suggestion that members should rise above professional ethics and exert their moral ethical position.

There was also no strong differentiation in the report between moral, general business, criminal and professional ethics, and it probably concentrated on these issues at the expense of accounting ethics. But CIMA recognises all ethical issues need addressing.

CIMA’s ethics board believes it must produce considered recommendations which can be understood on whistleblowing so members may make informed judgements on their own situations. It will also make recommendations about the position of ethics in the professional syllabus and CPD.

CIMA also aims to strengthen support for members. Much of this was already under serious consideration before the research was completed, and the Board feels Fisher and Lovell have provided useful underpinning to their work.

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