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Thursday, June 29, 2006

PwC Study: Continuous Auditing a Growing Trend

More companies are using "continuous auditing" techniques, which are designed to use technology to accelerate the internal audit cycle and improve risk and control assurance, according to a new study from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Conducted earlier this year, the survey includes responses from 444 audit managers -- half of whom said that they already use continuous auditing techniques, an increase from 35 percent in 2005. Of the companies without techniques in place, 31 percent said that they have plans in place to begin making changes.

PwC advisory partner Dick Anderson said that the shift is due in part to a dynamic risk environment that increasingly demands timeliness and reliable assurance. He said that continuous auditing also employs non-traditional approaches when it comes to strengthening reporting and communication with senior management and the audit committee.

posted by Brian Moran @ 9:29 AM   0 comments

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Nasdaq CEO sees Sarbanes-Oxley changes in 2007

Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. Chief Executive Robert Greifeld said on Tuesday he expects changes to the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform law in 2007.

The Nasdaq chief said he sees the changes will come within the law's stiff internal controls accounting mechanisms -- known as Section 404 -- and how it is applied and judged.

"I make the prediction that in 2007 we will see refinement of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act whether it comes directly from the legislature or Congress getting involved with the (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)," said Greifeld, speaking at Stanford University's Directors' College forum.

"When we look at what's wrong with Sarbanes-Oxley, we know we have to have a risk-based approach to the rule in general that will apply to the 404 section," he said, addressing an audience of corporate directors at publicly traded companies.

posted by Brian Moran @ 9:39 AM   0 comments

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Oversight Systems' Financial Executive Survey Shows Enterprise Risk Plagues Corporate America, Despite Confidence in Risk Preparation

Companies are embracing the concept of enterprise risk management but continue to struggle with implementation according to the findings in the 2006 Oversight Systems Report on Risk Management. The national survey of financial executives released today also found room for improvement in the way companies assess, manage and prevent risk.

The report (available free at www.oversightsystems.com/survey) indicates that nearly half of companies surveyed (43 percent) report having faced "significant operational surprises" during the last year.

Executives recognize the value of enterprise risk management with 58 percent of financial executives reporting that their company has an enterprise risk management approach and philosophy that considers various interactions among different types of risk. Identical to the 2005 findings, this year 68 percent of financial executives say their CEO is placing greater emphasis on holistic management of all types of risk. However, it appears many critical elements of enterprise risk management are still not in place in corporate America.

"Clearly, executives see a need for better risk management because companies are getting burned on a regular basis," said Dana Hermanson, Dinos Eminent Scholar Chair of Private Enterprise at Kennesaw State University. Hermanson is also an advisor to Oversight Systems. "We still see a gap between top management believing that their company employs enterprise risk management and the reality that they are not pushing ERM down through the organization with awareness and training."

posted by Brian Moran @ 9:40 AM   0 comments

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Audit fees for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance keep rising

(Crain's) — Despite predictions that audit fees associated with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act would fall, the cost of corporate governance compliance continues to get more expensive for public companies.

Since federal accounting reforms were enacted in 2002, public companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue have seen audit fees nearly triple in the past four years, according to a recent study by law firm Foley & Lardner. Audit fees were more than $1.2 million for fiscal year 2005 compared to $332,000 before accounting reforms.

In 2004, public companies with less than $1 billion in revenue spent slightly more than $1 million on audit fees, the study showed.

posted by Brian Moran @ 8:31 AM   0 comments

Friday, June 16, 2006

Blackstone boss bashes Sarbanes-Oxley Act

(Reuters) - The U.S. law aimed at tightening corporate governance rules is a "terrible" piece of legislation and needs to be fixed, Blackstone Group's [BG.UL] Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman said on Thursday.

The law, known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, has come under fire before from executives who say it burdens companies with hefty compliance costs.

But the law is rarely criticized by buyout executives such as Schwarzman, who benefit from companies going private in response to the Act's requirements.

"It's a terrible thing for the U.S.," Schwarzman said, speaking at a mergers and acquisitions conference on Thursday hosted by media group The Deal and the International Bar Association. Schwarzman acknowledged his firm and industry benefit from Sarbanes-Oxley.

posted by Brian Moran @ 8:56 AM   0 comments

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Avoiding another Enron

Guilty verdicts against two former Enron chiefs last month closed the books on the biggest case of corporate chicanery in recent history. But the fallout from that era of excess continues to blanket U.S. companies.

Are auditors more responsible, or are they just worried about liability?
I would guess they're more concerned with liability, survival, reputation. They're a lot tougher on clients and their clients' accounting. I know of several instances where they've decided that previous accounting was wrong and they are making their clients restate financial statements for things they have become more conservative about.

posted by Brian Moran @ 8:51 AM   0 comments

Friday, June 09, 2006

Fraud Detection Software: Shutting the Door on Scam Artists

For Mark Van Holsbeck, director of enterprise security at Avery Dennison, relying on a person to find fraud risks was daunting. "There's too much human error, potentially," he says. About three years ago, the Pasadena, Calif.-based office supply maker went with Oversight Systems, an Atlanta company with roots in intrusion-detection software.

Oversight's product provides continuous monitoring of Avery Dennison's accounts payable, general ledger, action request and human-resources systems. The software cross-references hundreds of reports covering vendor pay and employee activity. Previously, those same tasks were done by staff, without any software to help.

posted by Brian Moran @ 10:33 AM   0 comments

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Oversight Systems: Nonstop Cop

Like taking care of kids, keeping transactional systems in check requires full-time attention, and customers say Oversight Systems is the kind of babysitter everyone should have.

Mark Van Holsbeck, director of enterprise security at office supplies maker Avery Dennison, knows all about it. Executives at the company didn't think internal fraud was a problem—but they knew it was something they needed to address.

"And we knew we could never catch it, unless somebody in the operation told us," Van Holsbeck says. "Otherwise, there was nothing we could do."

posted by Brian Moran @ 8:33 AM   0 comments

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cashing in on the value of compliance

"Compliance is making people think at a higher level and forcing them to do things that are good for the business. Estimates on the cost of compliance vary, but whichever way you look at it, it is a lot of money and smart companies see they can use the investment to improve their business," says John Napoli, global director of financial services at BEA Software.

"At its simplest, compliance is about bringing data together to create reports for the regulatory bodies and getting them in on time. But if you approach it properly - look at the similarities across different regulations and draw the efforts together - you can keep the costs down," he says.

posted by Brian Moran @ 9:24 AM   0 comments

Monday, June 05, 2006

Real-Life Challenges and Recommendations

Editor's note: This is from a May 31, 2006 RFG Research Brief entitled "Sustainable Compliance 101: Continuous Controls Monitoring" by lead analysts John Van Decker and Sara Braunstein

Client Challenge: As firms move into the third year of the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance era, senior executives in finance, IT and other lines of business (LOBs) are focusing on sustainable and affordable effectiveness in internal controls surrounding critical business processes. RFG received an inquiry from a client that is challenged with making processes compliant, for fewer dollars and more quickly. The company is trying to determine what to prioritize in terms of making business processes and applications compliance-proof, and wonders if there are any low-hanging fruit that can provide significant business value without major investment. RFG recommended continuous controls monitoring (CCM) solutions to this client, to aid it in meeting The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) requirements for financial transactions.

A recent applications space referred to as continuous controls monitoring (CCM) provides a means of ensuring effective 404-related controls. In addition, CCM supports management in mitigating operational inefficiencies, pinpointing fraud, and reducing financial errors. Although CCM is similar to audit software, it addresses the compliance problem as an enterprise solution, rather than software specifically for the audit department.

posted by Brian Moran @ 8:56 AM   0 comments

 

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