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Accounting News Roundup: Audit Regulation and Wealthy Olds | 08.24.17

accounting news us chamber embarrassed cat

Even cats are embarrassed at the U.S. Chamber’s sorry turnout.

Audit regulation

Last week, I mentioned that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who has never met a regulation it didn’t like, sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking them to reject the new expanded auditor’s report rule. Accounting Today reported yesterday that The Chamber and 27 other corporations — from Chevron to FedEx to Nike — and business groups co-signed a letter to express their opposition:

The Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Competitiveness first submitted an earlier comment letter to the SEC ahead of a deadline last week for feedback on the PCAOB’s proposed standard (see Groups weigh in with SEC on PCAOB audit report standard). The Chamber of Commerce then organized a joint letter with other powerful corporations and businesses and submitted it on the deadline last Friday to persuade the SEC to reject the new standard.

I really thought the Chamber was done last week. It seemed that that letter to the SEC would’ve been the final screed of “BUSINESS CAN DO WHATEVER IT WANTS AND YOU SHOULDN’T STAND IN ITS WAY.”

But, man, was I ever wrong. The U.S. Chamber will not waver or tire of shilling for corporate interests:

“We support efforts to provide useful information to the users of financial statements, as it enhances the trust and confidence in the financial markets that rely upon them,” they wrote. “However, we have serious concerns that the requirements for Critical Audit Matters (‘CAM’ or ‘CAMs’) will result in the disclosure of immaterial information, replace management as the source of original information, create a chilling effect on the audit committee—auditor relationship, create liability for businesses and auditors, and impose additional expenses on firms. In its current form, the Proposed Standard will make audited financial statements a less effective means of disclosure, making the investment decision making process less efficient and leading to significant negative consequences for public companies.”

Is it a little sad that are only 27 co-signers on to this poorly written, wholly unconvincing letter? Even crappy cover bands manage to round up 30 friends and relatives to come hear them butcher “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the most influential business advocacy organizations in the country. There are thousands of public companies, and probably hundreds of business groups out there willing to grovel for business interests and the Chamber could only manage to wrangle 27 to take a stand against critical audit matters? That’s just sad.

Wealthy olds

If you’d like to assemble a list of ultra-rich clients, know that you’re likely going to be dealing with some senior citizens:

People in their 80s and 90s control $1.2 trillion of that wealth. Adults under 50, roughly 43 percent of the population, hold barely $1 trillion.

Wealthy people in their 80s have the highest average net worth of any age bracket. One reason is that octogenarians have less than half the debt, as a percentage of their total assets, than adults under 60.

In other words, one essential skill to getting rich appears to be: not dying. There’s more to it than that, of course, but continuing to live isn’t insignificant.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Greg Kyte’s Exposure Drafts cartoon looked at Section 666. In Open Items, a former auditor asks, “Audit background is very transferable. In general how transferable is ABL Experience?”

In other news:

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