In 1881 the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England prohibited the advertisement of accountancy services for the reason that it “lowered the dignity of the profession as a whole”. Advertising for accountants was also banned in the USA in 1894 for the same reasons. The rules were however revised in 1941 to allow accountants to produce and distribute business cards. In a further development, the AICPA Code of Ethics was revised in 1978 to allow advertising in professional journals, which was not “false, misleading or deceptive”. England and Canada had followed suite by 1982. Notices and announcements like change of offices were also permitted in newspapers. When the IESBA produced the International Code of Ethics in 1992, Paragraph 250 prohibited advertising except for a signboard outside the office premises and the sponsorship of sporting and other social events.
The IESBA Code was later revised in 2018 and section 115 included the following requirements with regards to advertising:
R115.2 When undertaking marketing or promotional activities, a professional
accountant shall not bring the profession into disrepute. A professional
accountant shall be honest and truthful and shall not make:
(a) Exaggerated claims for the services offered by, or the qualifications or
experience of, the accountant; or
(b) Disparaging references or unsubstantiated comparisons to the work of
115.2 A1 If a professional accountant is in doubt about whether a form of advertising or
marketing is appropriate, the accountant is encouraged to consult with the
relevant professional body.
The implication of this revision of the advertising rules is that advertising in any medium
including radio, TV, social media etc. is currently allowed for BICA member firms subject to
the above ethical requirements.