Amelie Smith explains how the CII helps to build trust in the profession by holding its members to account if they breach the Institute’s Code of Ethics
Members of the CII and candidates who take CII examinations agree to be bound by the laws of the Institute and may be subject to disciplinary proceedings for breach of the laws.
Where an individual is alleged to have failed to conduct themselves in accordance with the laws, the CII has a duty to act and will initiate an investigation. The overriding objective is public trust, which is a multi-faceted subject, but one of its key components is the ability of the CII to take action against members whose conduct has fallen short of the expected standards set out in the laws. The guiding document is the Code of Ethics, which describes the behaviour expected of our members and which our members agree to be bound by.
One way in which the CII upholds its and your reputation both internally and externally is via its disciplinary process, which enables members, candidates and the public to make complaints about actual or perceived misconduct. The outcome of such complaints leading to a sanction being imposed is published on the CII’s website and in The Journal.
Disciplinary cases range from plagiarism (either deliberate or unwitting) or breach of an examination’s published rules by an examination candidate, to financial mismanagement by a member, a member being convicted of a crime (no matter how ‘trivial’), disreputable conduct by a member, misuse of intellectual property by a member and a member being the subject of a statutory finding by a regulator such as the Financial Conduct Authority, the Pensions Regulator, or the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK and equivalent bodies in other jurisdictions.
Securing public trust
As the CII’s Charter states, it is about securing the confidence of the public and employers in the CII’s membership. In practical terms, this means that the public can identify via our website those members who have committed a breach of some kind. There is a demonstrable deterrent, and the general public is able to have confidence that the CII brand stands for ethical conduct by reputable members of the CII.
There are many benefits of a disciplinary process to members such as: confidence that any instances of unethical behaviour causing damage to the reputation of their profession will be properly addressed; there is a publicised deterrent available. The membership as a whole cannot be held accountable for the misconduct of a few individuals. The profession remains attractive to future members as an ethical career and there is an assurance that CII members’ conduct is directly connected to creating and ensuring public trust.
Regulators and employers of CII members can likewise rest assured that the CII takes misconduct with due seriousness and they may place their reliance on the CII’s willingness to align its members’ ethical obligations with their legal and regulatory needs. The CII’s focus is on public trust and it has no other contradictory agenda. Moreover, the outcome of the disciplinary process is freely available for inspection on our website. The laws of the Institute and the manner in which they are upheld are transparent and easily accessible.
The CII’s members will surely agree that the reputation of the profession is greater than that of an individual; and being able to rely on the CII upholding the laws of the Institute without fear or favour is part of the price of membership.
Amelie Smith is a barrister and legal manager of in-house counsel at the CII