Brian Friedrich FCPA and Laura Friedrich FCPA
LIES, ALTERNATIVE FACTS AND PROFESSIONAL SKEPTICISM
Brian Friedrich, LL.M, MEd, C.Dir, FCPA, FCGA
Laura Friedrich, MSc, CIA, FCPA, FCGA
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EXPECTATIONS FOR LEARNING
When you read a headline online that says “Insanity: The Word ‘Man’ Is Banned at Princeton University,” do you immediately think “That goes too far!”? Or is your first reaction “Really? That sounds like an author writing a sensational headline to generate traffic to their article.”? As professionals, our clients and the public in general count on us to be the “voice of reason” and to show a healthy amount of skepticism. In fact, professional skepticism is one of the key underlying competencies supporting our ability to meet our ethical requirements. This session explores the ways in which information is created and presented to influence our perception and decision-making.
The goal for this session is to explore risk areas where information and messages can be presented to deceive us, and how we can fool ourselves as a result of our own implicit biases. Just as importantly, the course examines how professional skepticism fits into our obligations as CPAs within the Code of Professional Conduct, primarily by supporting the requirements for objectivity, due care and professional competence.
Throughout the course, we will examine actual stories, and hear examples of messaging that illustrate these risks and biases. After working through the course, you should have a better understanding of common pitfalls that threaten decision-making, and have some additional tools to better meet those ethical obligations under the Code.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: In this course you will learn how to
1. Recognize the importance of professional skepticism as a key element of meeting professional ethical principles.
2. Distinguish how professional skepticism is applied in the context of assurance and non-assurance roles.
3. Recognize how quoted averages can deceive, and correctly interpret means and medians, factoring in variability.
4. Identify common ways that samples, stated accuracies, and unwarranted precision levels can be used to deceive us, and distinguish between correlation and causation.
5. Identify how charts can be used to manipulate messages, and determine common methods of deception through qualitative messages.
6. Establish ways to avoid making poor decisions based on misleading information.
7. Identify common types of biases that negatively affect our decision-making.
8. Recognize that biases exist as part of human nature and identify why this is the case.
9. Distinguish between unconscious bias and racism.
10. Determine effective ways to mitigate the negative impact of biases on decision-making.
EXPERT INTERVIEWS: Thanks to the following experts for participating in this course:
Gary Hannaford FCPA, FCA, Former CEO, CPA Manitoba; IESBA Board Member 2012-2017
Jennifer Phipps, CPA, CA, Director - Assurance Services, Leed Advisors
CY Tay FCPA, FCGA, CFO, Green Oak Development Corp.
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