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Monday, March 21, 2005

Gaining Strength From Sarbox

Sarbanes-Oxley compliance may be a burden, but it's helping some companies improve operations at various levels

By Steven Marlin
InformationWeek

To hear many company executives tell it, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has been a monumental burden, sucking up time and resources without making their businesses more competitive.

At MasterCard International Inc., complying with Sarbanes-Oxley financial-reporting regulations required 45,000 staff hours of work provided by its consultant, Deloitte & Touche, and its external auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers. "The cost has been overbearing," says Chris McWilton, CFO at the charge-card company with $2.6 billion in revenue.

But MasterCard is trying to get something back from that investment. A post-mortem of its Sarbanes-Oxley compliance effort, looking at what worked and didn't work, found inconsistent documentation of financial controls, as well as ones that should have been automated. Among the lessons learned is that "standardization of processes minimizes the risk of misstatements on financial reports," McWilton says.

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