Professional ethics

A new AICPA Code of Professional Conduct will be effective on Dec. 15. In an effort to make the code easier to use, it is available on a new and dynamic online platform accessible at, is broken down into different parts by line of practice, is intuitively arranged by topic and where necessary by subtopic and section, and incorporates the conceptual framework approach, all while retaining the substance of the existing AICPA ethics standards. The new format allows for quick and easy navigation, and also identifies when nonauthoritative content is available on a particular topic. 

Aside from the format change, the most significant change 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 code’s reach by allowing members to reach conclusions even if specific guidance is not written into the code. To allow members additional time to implement the conceptual frameworks, they are not effective until Dec. 15, 2015. The AICPA Professional Ethics Division is developing an implementation tool for the conceptual frameworks. Early implementation is encouraged.

For information and resources on the new code, including implementation tools, visit the “AICPA Ethics Codification Project” webpage at


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