Are you equipped to deal with corporate challenges?

By Tanya Barman

To accompany the CGMA global report on business ethics, Managing Responsible Business, we have created a number of online tools to help support your work and ensure you are meeting your obligations in relation to upholding your Code of Ethics.

When was the last time you reviewed your institute’s code? Both AICPA and CIMA have a range of resources and information services that are aimed at enhancing our members’ ethical practice and compliance. Are you aware of them and where to find them? You can get an overview of what is provided by reviewing the Ethics Resources tool that highlights the reports, helplines and case studies available online to help you uphold professional standards as well as links to the full Codes.

The CGMA survey found that there was a gap between organisations having codes and training around ethics and actual practice on a day-to-day basis. This is often down to the overall corporate culture. As CGMAs you have a responsibility to role model and contribute to creating an ethical business culture by challenging wrongdoing and ensuring you are doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking. The CGMA ethical checklist and worksheet helps both you and your wider team reflect on what is in place, what is working and what more needs to be done.

A key aspect of any CGMA’s role is ascertaining risk – and as Jamie Dimon testified last week to the Senate “no matter how good you are never, ever become complacent in risk”. One of the learnings from potential US$3Bn hole for JP Morgan Chase was being overconfident - too much trust was put in the CIO on the basis of past performance. Collecting and regularly communicating and reporting up the line about ethical issues – such as risk – is critical and pays dividends in the long term. Something the folk at JP Morgan are having to revisit seeing as Mr Dimon confessed “we missed a bunch of things in the chain”. What might be missing where you work? And what role can you play in filling the gaps?

On a day-to-day basis CGMAs may find themselves under pressure to blur the lines in relation to ethical conduct. But as professional members of both AICPA and CIMA you have obligations to uphold your code and to push back. The Navigating ethical issues Case Study details a scenario and what actions should be taken as a responsible finance professional. And how influencing your peers in doing the right thing contributes to business success – opposed to business notoriety! The case study places you in the role of corporate controller for a larger public company, making decisions that will not only affect your future, but the future of many others. The facts of this case cover integrity and objectivity, confidentiality, internal accounting controls, and procedures for investigating and reporting irregularities

Are you acting ethically? It’s always the right time to reflect and revisit your obligations and brush up on your influencing skills in safeguarding the business and building your ethical muscle and courage.