What Keeps The SEC Busy - 2004 The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants held its annual Current SEC Developments Conference in Washington, DC last month, featuring speakers from the SEC, the FASB and the AICPA. For the first time in two years, a Chief Accountant of the SEC was actually in place and present at the affair, along with other speakers from the Office of the Chief Accountant and Division of Corporation Finance. The conference enables the SEC staff to warn thousands of auditors for publicly-traded companies about the financial reporting practices they consider unacceptable, just in time for the year-end audit season. Whether they're smart (or just plain scared), auditors spend nearly three days at this conference trying to raise their accounting IQ. Analysts and investors and investors can raise their accounting IQ as well from the missives preached by the SEC's staff; they need to stoke their skepticism when it's their turn to review annual reports in a few months. Consider this: if the SEC staff considers an issue important enough to flog with auditors at an accounting Woodstock, it might portend an emerging trend or two in financial reporting - something to bear in mind as one studies annual reports or listens in on earnings calls. The SEC sees the financial statements through the review process before investors and analysts, so if they're spotting poor reporting, it makes sense to listen up. Here's what the SEC saw in 2003 - and doesn't want to see any more.