Q: Does the FICPA offer a CPE course designed to meet the Florida Board of Accountancy (BOA) ethics requirement?
A: The FICPA currently has two ethics courses that meet the BOA ethics requirement. The Ethics: Protecting the Integrity of CPAs course is a general course for Florida CPAs and includes content for several practice areas including tax, auditing and others. The Ethics for Governmental CPAs in Florida is tailored specifically to those working in the public sector or have public sector clients.
Q: Does it make a difference which format I choose?
A: No. The instructional format is your choice. The FICPA offers seminars though various options including: general group study, FICPA chapter meetings, accounting shows, conferences, on-site seminars, online self-study, and print-based self-study. The self-study courses are approved for QAS.
Q: What is the FICPA's ethics provider ID?
A: The BOA requires the providers of ethics courses go through an approval process and once the provider is approved they are assigned an ID. The FICPA's ethics ID 3461 The FICPA general CPE sponsor ID is 0002098.
Q: Is the four-hour ethics requirement included in my 80-hour requirement?
A: Yes, the four-hour ethics requirement is included in the 80 hour requirement. The CPE credit hour requirements are:
- 80 hours over a two-year reporting period;
- Minimum 20 hours Accounting & Auditing (A&A);
- Maximum 20 hours Behavioral (B);
- Four-hour ethics; and,
- No limitation or requirement for Technical Business (TB).
Q: Who is affected by the ethics requirement?
A: All Florida licensed CPAs.
Q: Is it too soon to take the ethics course if I don't report until next year?
A: No it is not. Your only requirement is to take the ethics course during your CPE reporting period.
Q: Who is eligible to teach the FICPA Ethics Course and what is the process for becoming an instructor?
A: You must be a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the United States; practiced in public accounting for five of the last ten years; possess a solid training or education background; be a member in good standing of the FICPA; reside in the state of Florida; have not been disciplined by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation; and, attended the FICPA's "Train-the-Trainer" course for ethics.
Q: When do I report my Ethics CPE Online to DBPR?
A: CPAs should report their Ethics CPE online along with their other CPE. Please continue to check the Board of Accountancy website for any updates.
In the wake of the Sarbanes/Oxley act passed by Congress in 2002, many state legislatures have focused more on integrity, independence and objectivity in the accounting profession. During the 2004 legislative session, the Florida Legislature followed the lead of 36 other states and created a statutory requirement for a four hour ethics course for Florida CPAs. SB 2720 by Sen. Jeff Atwater and its companion HB 1315 by Rep. Don Sullivan, were the result of a cooperative effort of the Florida Institute of CPAs (FICPA) and the Florida Board of Accountancy (BOA).
Who Must Complete Ethics CPE?
Pursuant to s. 473.312(1)(c), F.S. and BOA Rules 61H1-33.003 to 61H1-33.00342, F.A.C., all Florida licensees are required to take a total of four hours of ethics CPE as part of their 80-hour CPE requirement for license renewal. This course can only be taken from BOA-approved ethics course providers, and because it is Florida-specific, another state's ethics CPE will not meet this requirement.
Why Support an Ethics Requirement?
To understand why the FICPA supported this statutory change, one need only look at what is happening at the national level. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) drafted a whitepaper titled, "Answering the SOX Challenge" that supported the concept of a pre-licensure and post-licensure ethics course. For years, the Uniform Accountancy Act rules drafted by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and NASBA supported mandatory ethics CPE courses.
With current college curriculum being required to teach a growing body of knowledge in accounting, auditing, taxation, business law, etc. there is no room for ethics education per se. The need for the profession to concentrate on teaching professionals to not only do what is technically correct, but to also conduct themselves in a manner of doing what is intended and avoiding even the appearance of impropriety needs to be emphasized periodically. The ultimate goal of this new law is to provide for public protection by having licensed individuals periodically demonstrate an understanding of Florida laws and rules governing their behavior and understand the widely recognized components of an effective ethics program.
What Does the Ethics Law Require?
Within s. 473.312(1)(c), F.S., licensees are required to complete four hours in ethics, "applicable to the practice of public accounting." The law goes on to state that, "this requirement shall be administered by providers approved by the board and shall include a review of the provisions of chapter 455 and this chapter (473) and the related administrative rules." The law and rules exam and the ethics course should give licensees the knowledge they need for ethical conduct.
Implementing BOA Rules
Since SB 2720 was signed by the Governor in May of 2004, the Florida BOA has been diligently drafting administrative rules to implement the requirement. Some key items in BOA rules that affect licensees should be noted:
- 61H1-33.003(1)(a) - Reiterates the statute requiring that four hours of ethics CPE is required.
- 61H1-33.003(1)(c) - Outlines the course content.
- 61H1-33.0031 - Allows the course to be offered in a four hour segment or two two-hour modules. If a licensee takes the course in two modules, both must be taken from the same provider.
- 61H1-33.0032 - Outlines who can apply to be an ethics course provider and who can teach the course. No CPA who has been disciplined by the Florida BOA can teach the course.
- 61H1-33.0033 - An ethics course instructor must be a CPA, "who has practiced in a public accounting firm for five of the last ten years, whose background, training, education or experience makes it appropriate for the person to teach the course."
As should be noted, the Florida BOA has the authority to revise the above mentioned rules through the administrative process. To view changes to these rules, please visit BOA or contact the FICPA's Governmental Affairs Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 224-2727, Ext. 202.