Cybersecurity has been a key ingredient in recent business and political news. For CPA firms, this means that any effective risk management program must protect against cyber attacks and mitigate the potential damage should they succeed. A pair of feature articles this month describe the risks presented by cybercrime and discuss the cyber insurance coverage options available for CPA firms.
Several department articles this month cover the centrality of ethics to the CPA profession, from a variety of different perspectives: The AICPA recently incorporated its Statements on Standards for Tax Services into the authoritative Code of Professional Conduct; CPAs providing tax services should be aware of its provisions, as well as relevant IRS guidance, such as Circular 230. A new AICPA proposal would largely incorporate the provisions of an international ethics standard on dealing with noncompliance with laws and regulations during an engagement or employment, providing a framework for balancing the duty to act in the public interest with the need to maintain confidentiality. Finally, while many CPAs might not look outside the profession for ethical inspiration, the example provided by the Coast Guard Academy illustrates how all ethical leaders need to exercise judgment, demonstrate technical competence, and uphold a high standard of conduct. The similarities between honorable professions are more compelling than the differences.
Also featured this month is a primer on the Department of Labor's controversial new Fiduciary Rule. While, as of press time, the future of the rule remained uncertain, whatever the eventual outcome, CPAs providing such services should be prepared. Advisors might do well to consider whether they should be most concerned about the letter of the law or the spirit of the law—and remember their professional duty to provide informed, individualized, and unbiased advice to their clients in any context.