Volume 25, No. 13

What Keeps The SEC Busy - 2017: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants held its annual “Current SEC & PCAOB Developments Conference” in Washington, DC earlier this month. Speakers came from all major accounting regulators and standard setters: the PCAOB, the FASB, and the IASB. Also in attendance: hundreds of CPAs searching for their annual fix of information, gossip and camaraderie - though not necessarily in that order.

Soon, everyone in attendance will be doing the annual 10-K duty dance. The external auditors will do their audit work, and hopefully sign off without remorse on the filings investors will study. Accountants and auditors alike seek to learn from the conference about possible accounting and SEC reporting landmines: hearing the SEC’s concerns ahead of producing the financial statements lets them pay attention to their own weaknesses (if they recognize them), enabling them to avoid SEC “love letters” on their filings.

Investors benefit from the conference: it’s a comprehensive reminder of the concerns regulators harbor about financial reporting, and it’s in time for the arrival of the 10-K tidal wave. Good investors are skeptical ones, but you have to know something before you can be skeptical. The topics covered in this conference nourish investor skepticism.

While many of the technical issues covered are of interest to investors, the conference also continued a years-long theme: standard setters and regulators are just as interested in the effects of standards and disclosures on issuers, as they are interested in how they affect investors. The next twelve months will keep the SEC busy with preparer implementation of new standards and parsing non-GAAP reporting, but it might also be busy making life easier for corporate finance departments.

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