What Is a Code of Ethics?

Code of Ethics Definition

A code of ethics refers to a set of guiding principles that help professionals and companies conduct business with honesty and integrity.

These principles may be based on the mission and values of the organization, as well as on other widely accepted business ethics practices.

The purpose of a code of ethics is to maintain an honest and equitable business environment. It applies both to employees and executives.

Is a Code of Ethics Required?

Some industries, such as the banking and finance industries, have laws that govern business behavior and require actions that promote integrity.

Other businesses may institute a code of ethics voluntarily.

Often a code of ethics will govern employee conduct, professional practice, and even the ways in which professionals approach certain problems.

Code of Ethics Examples

A good example of a code of ethics comes from the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute.

The CFA charterholder designation is one of the most prestigious and respected in the finance business, and its integrity is represented in its code of ethics.

Here are a few of its tenets:

  • To act with integrity, competence, diligence, respect, and in an ethical manner with the public, clients, and professionals in the investment industry and other industries
  • To place the interest of the investment profession and clients above their own
  • To act and encourage others to act in a professional manner that reflects well on the profession and themselves
  • To maintain and improve their professional competence and strive to maintain and improve the competence of other professionals

What Is a Code of Ethics FAQs

A code of ethics refers to a set of guiding principles that help professionals and companies conduct business with honesty and integrity.
Some industries, such as the banking and finance industries, have laws that govern business behavior and require actions that promote integrity, while other businesses may institute a code of ethics voluntarily.
The CFP and CFA designations both have rigorous codes of ethics requiring planners and analysts to be honest, fair, unbiased and other noble characteristics in all of their professional dealings.
The purpose of a code of ethics is to maintain an honest and equitable business environment. It applies both to employees and executives.
A code of ethics varies from company to company but there are five areas of focus that are generally adhered to: integrity, professional behavior, objectivity, confidentiality, and professional competence.
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True contributes to his own finance dictionary, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, his interview on CBS, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.