The revised AICPA code of ethics may not help dissuade any future Scott Londons of the profession from trading on their audit clients but it should help you figure out if you can accept courtside seats from a client.
Imagine you are the director of finance for a manufacturing company based in New York. Your company’s major customer stops by one morning and drops off two tickets to Friday night’s Rangers game in Madison Square Garden. You are excited but have a nagging feeling that is unrelated to the fact that you have to break it to your wife that instead of taking her, you plan to take your friend who is a “real hockey fan.”
Later that afternoon you realize what that nagging feeling was. You seem to recall reading something about the ethics related to accepting gifts from an employer’s customers or vendors, so you go to aicpa.org to check out the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct (ethics code) to see what you can find on this topic.
When you click on the link to the code, you realize that something is different—that it does not look like what you remember. However, you are pleasantly surprised to see that there is a whole section dedicated to you, a member in business, and a separate section to members in public practice.
Not only that, but with a couple of clicks, you see an entire section that addresses gifts and entertainment. After reading through the guidance, you conclude that you can accept the tickets and breathe a sigh of relief. Now if only breaking the news to your wife could be as easy as navigating the code.
The biggest change is not to the core of professional ethics themselves but the new distinction between members in business and members in public practice, as well as the "other" group which covers retireds and those not actually working anywhere but still licensed.
The goal here is to make the whole thing more "user-friendly," the user being you and friendly being NO EXCUSES JUST USE IT YOU CLOWN.
Here's a taste of what that might look like for the guy in the example above:
You'll get a better look at this new and improved Code of Professional Conduct in the third quarter of 2014, which allows everyone plenty of time to work on being as ethical as possible absent a user-friendly guide.
If this totally fascinates you, read more about it at JofA.