Reviewing the Role of CPA CPE Ethics in the CPA Profession

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Demonstration of strong ethics is one of the key characteristics that make CPAs trustworthy to those outside of the accounting profession. The type of work performed by CPAs – from accounting and auditing to tax services – requires a strong level of ethics.

While CPAs adhere to ethical guidelines, the topic has become even more important than ever due to increasing financial scandals and fraud charges. Those stories continue to remind us of the huge importance of ethical behavior and ethical decision-making in the accounting profession.

All CPAs must thoroughly understand and follow ethical guidelines to maintain their professional credibility, and pursuing CPA CPE ethics is undeniably the best way to do this.

This post is aimed at discussing all the essential things related to CPA CPE ethics courses to help our fellow CPAs embark on an ethical journey right from the beginning of their careers.



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Understanding Your CPA CPE Ethics Requirements

You already know that in the U.S., CPA designations are issued at the state level. So, CPAs need to adhere to the requirements and standards established by the specific state in which they’re registered. The AICPA caters to the interest of individual CPAs, while NASBA caters to the interest of state accountancy boards.

While the CPE requirements vary from one state to another, there’s one common requirement of earning a specific number of credits in ethics every reporting period. It’s important to note that in some states, the ethics requirements can only be met by taking CPA CPE ethics courses that are approved by the state board of accountancy.

Therefore, before you start searching for sponsors of CPA CPE ethics online or offline programs, be sure to understand your ethics requirements thoroughly.

The Importance of CPA CPE Ethics Courses in the Accounting Profession

Today CPAs can work in many different sectors: from public accounting and tax to a diverse range of industries. And they can carry out different roles and responsibilities in each of these sectors. They can also work at companies of any size.

Some CPAs run their own accounting firms, while others work for large corporations. The knowledge of ethics helps them lay a foundation for whatever role they play in their professional lives. While they should always follow job-specific ethical guidelines, they’ll have a strong foundation for making ethical decisions by following the rules and regulations of professional ethics in the accounting field.

As mentioned above, each state board of accountancy has established certain CPA CPE ethics requirements to ensure its CPAs earn a specific number of credits in ethics every reporting period. There’re many reasons behind establishing these requirements.

Let’s take a look at the most important reasons. These will also help you understand why ethical guidelines are an integral part of the accounting profession.

  • Information has to remain confidential

Disclosure of financial information of any financial activity such as an acquisition or a merger by a CPA will violate the ethics code. It’ll also be considered unethical behavior by the accountant. The ethical guidelines prevent an organization or accounting firm from doing this unless there’s an actual legal reason for doing so.

  • The integrity of the accountants

The knowledge of the ethics code gained from taking offline or online CPA CPE ethics courses helps to ensure that all accountants demonstrate honesty and integrity when working with clients or carrying out other professional responsibilities. CPA CPE ethics courses will also help you understand that accountants must not associate themselves with any kind of information that can be damaging or misleading for the organization or clients.

  • Help accountants remain knowledgeable

The accounting industry goes through constant changes, and with the emergence of new technologies, the role of CPAs is changing as well. It simply means that CPAs have to stay updated to offer an accurate judgment on problems faced by their clients. Having professional competence not only means being aware of your expertise and skills, but it also means not implying that you’ve got knowledge in areas you aren’t familiar with. Pursuing CPA CPE ethics will help you understand that you should only offer professional services after receiving the proper training.

  • Help to maintain a company’s reputation

The ethics code mentions that accountants need to adhere to all the rules and regulations established by the governing bodies. This helps them maintain professionalism and ensure the financial statements are an accurate and fair representation of a company’s financial health. If accountants fail to do this, it can affect the company’s reputation and can even bring legal trouble to it.

  • Help a company do the right financial planning

It’s the responsibility of accountants to provide the right information that helps a business do financial planning for the future. Apart from accuracy, they also need to provide the information in a timely manner to help the business make the right decisions at the right time.

If accountants fail to do this, it may lead to higher costs and missed opportunities for the company. By gaining knowledge of the ethics code through taking CPA CPE ethics online or in-person courses, you’ll be able to ensure there’s no misrepresentation of the information or numbers provided to the stakeholders in a company.

You’ll also be able the understand the importance of following the rules and regulations of the governing body in every accounting process in the company to ensure that reliable and accurate information is presented to the information’s users.

CPAs have significant ethical responsibilities that must be met when offering professional services. The state boards of accountancy, the AICPA, state statutes, state societies of CPAs, and other regulatory agencies establish ethical rules and regulations for accountants that practice before them. Therefore, every CPA is subject to such requirements. By taking CPA CPE ethics courses, you’ll be able to meet these requirements efficiently.

Learning Objectives of In-Person or Online CPA CPE Ethics Courses

The AICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct is the foundation for the majority of CPA CPE ethics programs. As mentioned earlier, the accounting field is evolving at a steady pace and without a strong ethical foundation, the changes may trigger inconsistencies from one accounting firm to another.

The code has established some key principles that help accountants maintain ethical guidelines when offering professional services. Whether you plan to pursue CPA CPE ethics online or offline, you’ll be able to learn the following principles:

  • Responsibilities

Accountants need to demonstrate moral and professional judgment during their work as well as in their careers. They’re obligated to maintain public confidence, cooperate with other accountants in the industry, and try to uphold the reputation of the accounting profession.

  • Integrity

Sometimes, integrity becomes a matter of question, especially in the absence of clearly mentioned expectations or rules. The integrity of accountants is measured by carrying out what is “right.” Therefore, accountants are required to observe both the spirit and the form of ethical and technical standards. In their effort to strengthen integrity, they need to adhere to the standards.

  • The public interest

According to the AICPA, the “public” in the accounting profession comprises governments, investors, employers, credit grantors, the business and financial community, clients, and others who’re reliant on the integrity and objectivity of CPAs to maintain a smooth function of commerce. Therefore, CPAs always need to strive to maintain public trust and serve the public interest.

  • Objectivity and independence

Maintaining objectivity and independence is extremely important in the field of accounting because the profession brings the opportunity for financial gain originating from client relationships. Accountants have to be independent in both appearance and fact when offering auditing and other types of attestation services.

Independence can be achieved by following the principles of responsibilities, integrity and working toward maintaining the public interest. Accounting firms also need to ensure the objectivity and independence of their accountants within the organizations.

They can achieve these by having CPAs sign independence agreements and review client lists to identify potential conflicts of interests, establishing procedures to deal with independence issues and potential conflicts of interests, and using a continuous assessment of public responsibility and client relationships.

  • Due care

Accountants are obligated and expected to offer professional services and practice accounting to the best of their abilities. They can achieve this by taking CPA CPE ethics courses diligently, ensuring sufficient planning and supervision, seeking consultation when required, performing annual performance evaluations, and gaining experience through mentoring relationships.

By implementing the knowledge gained from in-person or online CPA CPE ethics courses, you’ll be able to demonstrate ethical behavior not just in your profession but also throughout the business world.

Mistakes in the accounting field are sometimes made deliberately, and sometimes they’re made accidentally. As accountants deal with actual financial information, sometimes it can be tweaked to fit specific needs.

The objective of CPA CPE ethics programs is to help ensure that deliberate mistakes always go noticed. After all, it’s much difficult to knowingly tweak information if there’re people around abiding by ethical guidelines who need to review that information.

Key Things to Follow When Pursuing CPA CPE Ethics Online or Offline

You can pursue CPA CPE ethics in two learning formats: in-person or online. In-person programs are not only generally more expensive than online CPA CPE ethics courses, but they also appear with several other constraints such as traveling to another location and attending the programs at fixed schedules.

As CPA CPE ethics online programs have become the sought-after choice for countless CPAs, we’re now going to discuss some simple yet crucial steps to complete these courses conveniently.

  • Choose the right sponsor

If you happen to be registered in a state where only state-specific ethics courses are approved, be sure to join a sponsor that offers them. Also, the costs of CPA CPE ethics courses vary significantly, and hence, you should choose a sponsor that offers a good balance of cost and quality.

  • Study the materials diligently

You shouldn’t need to spend hours studying the courses as long as you complete the study materials regularly. While earning ethics credits is a small part of meeting your CPE requirements, it may become a difficult task if you don’t follow a regular study schedule right from the beginning.

When studying, focus on the broad applicability of the AICPA Code of Conduct and the ethical principles. You may also want to consider situations in your professional role where you may need to use them as it’ll help you absorb the concepts quicker.

  • Take the exam

If you’ve opted for self-study CPA CPE ethics programs, it’s a must to successfully clear the final exam at the end of each course to earn credits. And as you’d need a 70% passing score or better, you cannot afford to make lots of mistakes.

However, earning this score shouldn’t be as much difficult as it may sound. Make enough preparation to take the exam. It’s also important to choose a quiet room to take the exam so that you can give your full attention to the questions.

You should also note that you’ll receive the credits for successfully completing the course as of the date you’ve passed the exam, not as of the date you registered for that particular course. It means you must earn the credits before the deadline of your reporting period appears.

In Conclusion

Without the presence of ethics, the public won’t put their trust in what CPAs do. If there’re no ethical standards within the accounting field, the clients served by CPAs and the organizations they work for will fail.

In the accounting profession, ethics has always been crucial to the success of accountants. The ethical guidelines hold true regardless of how the profession evolves and can help every CPA follow the right path to make the right decision.

If you’re searching for CPA CPE ethics programs to meet your CPE requirements or brush up on your ethical knowledge and skills, check out the broad range of NASBA-approved CPA CPE ethics courses we offer.



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