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 five fundamental principles which all AAT members (student, affiliate, associate, full and fellow members) must comply with. This has been updated to include provisions relating to non-compliance with laws and regulations (NOCLAR). This standard is in effect as of 15 July 2017.

AAT's previous version of the Code of Professional Ethics was produced in January 2014 and can be accessed for reference purposes. Download the 2014 Code of Professional Ethics (PDF).

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

Professional members working in tax must comply with the fundamental principles of behaviour outlined in Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT). This guidance has been produced by AAT, ACCA, ATT, CIOT, ICAEW, ICAS and STEP. This is the latest version of the guidance, which is effective from 1 March 2017. For more information refer to AAT’s press release Professional bodies update guidance for tax advisers.

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.