Volume 21, No. 14

What Keeps The SEC Busy - 2013  The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants held its annual “Current SEC & PCAOB Developments Conference” in Washington, DC in the first week of December. Speakers were on hand from all of the major accounting agencies or standard-setters: the SEC, the PCAOB, the FASB, and the IASB. With about 1,200 attendees in Washington alone, you might call it “the December carnival of accountants.”

In just a few weeks, the preparers attending the conference will be busily sculpting their firms’ annual 10-K filing – every year’s late Christmas present to shareholders. (Even if they don’t realize it’s a really “practical gift.”) Once they’re finished creating (or perhaps, just “complying?”), in come the auditors to give their pass/fail grade to the financial presentation. To make the whole process as smooth as possible, the preparer accountants and auditors from public accounting firms try to avoid pitfalls at filing time by learning from the SEC and PCAOB speakers at this conference. Forewarned is forearmed: why not try to learn directly from the SEC and PCAOB about the issues that concern them? The earlier you understand the issues, the more time you have to remedy them in the field – and maybe you’ll avoid comments and filing delays later. The conference fills up three days with financial statement intelligence for auditors and preparers to absorb - if they want to.

Investors can benefit from this conference, too. While they only get a high-level view in shareholder reporting, problems often emerge from transaction levels much deeper in the company – where the auditors work. If the regulators charged with audit quality and fair disclosures have something to say to their constituents, investors should take an interest in the accounting issues that matter to the PCAOB and SEC. Healthy curiosity should be enough to make investors care about “what keeps the SEC busy.”

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