Five behaviours at the heart of CIPFA’s revised professional ethics standard


Professional ethics plays a crucial role in the public finance sector, as it does in all walks of life. At the heart of CIPFA’s newly revised standard on professional ethics are five fundamental principles: integrity, objectivity, due care, confidentiality and professional behaviour.


The updated Standard of Professional Practice (SOPP) was announced during an ethics breakfast workshop during CIPFA’s Annual Conference, which was hosted by past CIPFA President Margaret Pratt and included ICAS Chief Executive Anton Colella and former Detective Constable of Greater Manchester Police Maggie Oliver.

The session covered a number of ethical risks and dilemmas, from accounting scandals and bribes to institutional cover ups, but also identified some of core behaviours that individuals in the profession should and do exhibit, including openness and selflessness. Anton Colella also stressed the importance of public finance managers having 'moral courage'.

Margaret Pratt said: “Public servants are duty bound to ensure their organisation remains financially viable, but ethics should never be undermined to achieve that end.

"Indeed, ethics should never be viewed as an added bonus, but should be at the heart of all decision making in public services. To ensure that, CIPFA has developed standards to help guide financial managers when facing ethical dilemmas."

The SOPP is based on principles, not rules. It considers how threats such as self-interest, intimidation and familiarity can create the conditions in which people might be tempted to act contrary to the principles. It also suggests safeguards in the form of institutional procedural frameworks and personal responses to overcome threats.

CIPFA’s standard shares the fundamental principles set out in the International Standards Board for Accountants’ Code of Ethics, which includes the position that the accountancy profession must act in the public interest.

Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive of CIPFA said: “Not only do ethics establishes a fundamental basis for common decency, respect, fairness, and integrity, it helps build professional trust and acts as the glue that holds together communities of businesses, customers, and public servants.”

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Notes to editors


CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. CIPFA shows the way in public finance globally, standing up for sound public financial management and good governance around the world as the leading commentator on managing and accounting for public money.

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