Professional ethics

Ethical compliance

Ethical compliance is key to maintaining public confidence in the accountancy profession. All AAT members are bound by AAT’s Code of Professional Ethics (PDF)

Our Code of Professional Ethics is based on the IESBA Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants and sets out the five fundamental principles with which all AAT members must comply. The IESBA Code has been revised, effective 15 June 2019. While the revisions have not led to any changes to the AAT Code of Professional Ethics, there are some useful updates to the conceptual framework which help explain how accountants should apply the Code to ensure compliance with the fundamental principles of professional ethics.

AAT independence provisions relating to review and assurance engagements

Sections 290 and 291 provide specific guidance on independence requirements for licensed members who perform review and assurance engagements.

The full provisions relating to this can be found within the AAT Code of Professional Ethics: independence provisions relating to review and assurance engagements (PDF).

Professional conduct in relation to taxation (PCRT)

Professional members working in tax must comply with the fundamental principles of behaviour outlined in Professional conduct in relation to taxation (PDF). This guidance has been produced by AAT, ACCA, ATT, CIOT, ICAEW, ICAS and STEP, and is effective from 1 March 2019.

Helpsheets (PDFs)

AAT's fundamental principles

Under our Code of Professional Ethics, every AAT member must follow these five principles:

  1. Integrity
    You must be straightforward and honest in all professional and business relationships.
  2. Objectivity
    You must not compromise professional or business judgment because of bias, conflict of interest or the undue influence of others.
  3. Professional competence and due care
    You must maintain professional knowledge and skill (in practice, legislation and techniques) to ensure that a client or employer receives competent professional service.
  4. Confidentiality
    You must not disclose confidential professional or business information or use it to your personal advantage, unless you have explicit permission to disclose it, or a legal or professional right or duty to disclose it.
  5. Professional behaviour 
    You must comply with relevant laws and regulations, and avoid any action that may bring disrepute to the profession.


Acting in the public interest

Ethical decision making is based on a conceptual framework, which AAT members must use to identify and evaluate threats to compliance with the fundamental principles and to respond appropriately to them.

All accounting professionals must act in the public interest. Whether managing the financial affairs of a company or providing services to an individual, acting ethically and to the highest technical competence is of paramount importance.

It is for these reasons that AAT members are expected to engage with and apply the fundamental ethical principles to ensure:

  • The client’s needs are met
  • The public interest is not compromised
  • Risk is properly managed
  • All parties are treated fairly

Where an AAT member’s professional behaviour falls short of the ethical standards we expect, we will investigate and take action.

AAT disciplinary processes and tribunals

If a member has breached our Code of Professional Ethics we will take disciplinary action where necessary to ensure that AAT membership retains its high standards. Read more about our disciplinary processes and tribunals here. 


Ethics enquiries

AAT’s ethical helpline will help if you need to talk about an ethical dilemma at work or within your firm. We can discuss the situation, the options available to you and the safeguards you can put in place to ensure you continue to work in an ethically responsible way. To discuss any ethical questions you might have, call us on +44 (0)20 7397 3014 or email