We found an interesting bit in a DealBook piece about Mary Jo White's impotent SEC we felt would be important to share with you: On yet another front, the S.E.C. is embroiled in a quiet battle with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the accounting industry regulator created after the Enron-era scandals. The accounting board […]
Let this case serve as a lesson to all partners in charge: if you don't do good audits, you will be bankrupted and sent to prison for criminally negligent auditing. Oh wait, no you won't. Carry on: The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board today announced a settled disciplinary order against Randall A. Stone, CPA, of […]
Rejoice, people, PCAOB Inspection Report season continues! From PwC's fresh off the presses 2013 inspection report: The 2013 inspection of the Firm included reviews of portions of 57 audits performed by the Firm and reviews of the Firm's audit work on two other issuer audit engagements in which the Firm played a role but was […]
The good news for Grant Thornton is that they managed to take remedial actions related to their 2010 inspection report and addressed criticisms to the satisfaction of the PCAOB. Cheers! The bad news is that the same cannot be said for their 2008 and 2009 reports. The quality control remediation process is basically a way […]
Audit firms are still having some trouble pleasing the audit overlords at the PCAOB — particularly with Auditing Standard No. 5. ICFR is the new WTF, though the PCAOB sees audit firms making progress. Unfortunately, the firms are also kinda missing the point of this whole exercise. Compliance Week has the details: The next round […]
Full press release is below as we don't care enough about this to spend an hour rewriting it: Washington, DC, May 1, 2014 — The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is soliciting nominations for its Standing Advisory Group (SAG) for the 2015-2017 three-year term. The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2014. The Board is […]
Yesterday, we shared McGladrey's not-all-that-bad inspection report results. Now, it's time to crown a world champion audit firm… CohnReznick! The words every audit firm wants to hear from the PCAOB: The inspection procedures included a review of aspects of the Firm's auditing of financial statements of 11 issuers. This review did not identify any audit […]
Well, the PCAOB is slowly but surely cranking out more 2012 inspection reports and today, McGladrey gets to celebrate an accomplishment: being better at auditing than Grant Thornton (though I suppose given GT's embarrassing audit failure rate, that isn't saying much). Not only that, they're slightly better than EY and only slightly worse than PwC. […]
"For new accountants, the focus on documentation can be a difficult transition — the world of texting, Facebook postings, and tweeting may not fully prepare you. And, of course, communication skills are important even beyond the accountant's documentation of audit procedures. Being able to express yourself effectively is key to your relationships with your co-workers […]
Keep holding out, China, the PCAOB don't need to check your stinkin' work anyway: Washington, DC, March 31, 2014 — The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board today announced that it has entered into a cooperative agreement with the Supervisory Board of Public Accountants (RN) of Sweden relating to the oversight of audit firms subject to […]
The PCAOB is preparing for its April 2-3 public meeting this week, and while I really wanted an excuse to spend two days in Washington trolling the PCAOB IRL, I decided catching the webcast from the comfort of my Lovesac in my pajamas was a much better decision. The panelists aren't much to write home […]
Aha! Pointy-headed professors aren't the only ones who think the PCAOB's use of the term "audit failure" is totally dramatic and possibly unnecessary. From the JofA: The PCAOB’s use of the term “audit failure” in its inspection reports of audit firms appears to have caused confusion and misunderstanding about the severity of inspection findings among […]
For some of you, being subject to PCAOB inspection is easily the worst part of your miserable life. For others, simply registering with the PCAOB can lend the kind of automatic credibility shitty restaurants get by slapping a "People Love Us on Yelp" sticker in the window. Imagine boasting you are "PCAOB-registered" without never having […]
Here's the deal. Last week, Mark Peecher and Ira Solomon published an opinion piece on CFO.com titled PCAOB’s ‘Audit Failure’ Rate Is Highly Suspect. Just so we know these guys might have some idea what they are talking about, Mark teaches accounting at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Ira is dean of the A. […]
Compliance Week has our friendly reminder that if you have something to say about audit partner naming, you better speak now or forever hold your peace: As preparers wrap up their year-end financial reports, they'll have a few extra weeks to make their views known on a proposal to begin naming engagement partners in the […]
As you know, I sat through the SEC Open Meeting webcast yesterday just to catch the copious number of thank yous, Doty giving the prepared remarks I already had, and the conclusion we all knew the SEC would come to, which was approving the 2014 PCAOB budget. BOR-ING. Well out of that meeting, everyone seemed […]
In case you missed the thank fest that was today's SEC Open Meeting, the PCAOB showed up to get its 2014 budget of $258.4 million approved by the Commission after everyone went around the room and thanked one another for their hard work for capital markets. Repeatedly. Chairman Jim Doty validated the $12.8 million increase […]
Lodi dodi, we likes to party, we don't cause trouble, we don't bother nobody. This comes from Emily Chasan via CFO Journal: More than one in three audits inspected by the U.S. government’s audit watchdog were so deficient the auditors shouldn’t have signed off, an official said this week. Why do I feel like we […]
Ed. note: Paul Gillis Ph.D, CPA is a Professor of Accounting at the Guanghua School of Management, Peking University in Beijing, China and co-director of its IMBA program. He is a former member of the PCAOB Standing Advisory Group, he also writes the China Accounting Blog and you can follow him on Twitter. He's not pointy-headed, […]
Ed. note: this is unconventional even for us as we usually don't hand over the soapbox to trolls but in this case, it seemed fitting as Big4Veteran has been waiting YEARS for us to publish the last thing he submitted to us while graciously throwing down his "wisdom" in the comment section just as long. […]
Jim Peterson has subjected himself to not one but two viewings of the PCAOB's December 4 meeting, so that alone makes him a hero because ain't nobody got time for that. But on his second viewing, the delirium kicked in and he started counting how many times the PCAOB thanked the PCAOB for the PCAOB's […]
Let's discuss. This just came out of his mouth not 5 minutes ago. Doty: "the firms tell us that they believe PCAOB inspection has improved audit quality." #aicpaSEC — Adrienne Gonzalez (@adrigonzo) December 9, 2013
And by "small" I mean $12.8 million. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board today approved its 2014 fiscal-year budget of approximately $258.4 million and its 2013-2017 strategic plan. The budget is $12.8 million, or 5 percent, above the Board's 2013 budget of $245.6 million. The Board also approved its strategic plan for 2013-2017 to serve […]
I was totally going to go but, um, I have to wash my cat's hair that day: PCAOB to Consider 2014 Budget and Strategic Plan Washington, DC, Nov. 19, 2013 The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has scheduled an Open Meeting for Monday, Nov. 25, at 3 p.m., to consider adoption of the PCAOB budget […]
A nearly 40% "deficiency" rate for the big firms according to the PCAOB is news to no one (at least no one around here) but let's look at this post by Emily Chasan in CFO Journal for WSJ anyway: The Big Number: 37.5% That’s the proportion of audits by large accounting firms found to have […]
If you're like us, you've been anxiously awaiting comment letters on the PCAOB's auditor reporting model proposal. There's nothing better than self-righteous firms penning letters filled with thinly-veiled condescension. Plus, the U.S. Chamber owes us all an honest effort after phoning in their initial response. So far none of the major accounting firms, the AICPA, CAQ, […]
This morning the PCAOB held their open meeting to discuss "Proposed Auditing Standards Regarding the Auditor’s Report and the Auditor’s Responsibilities Regarding Other Information." PCAOB Chairman James Doty called it a "watershed moment for the auditing in the United States." And yeah, I suppose it is. I mean, the auditor's opinion hasn't changed in 70 […]
The PCAOB posted their 2012 annual report to its website today and it's filled with all kinds of interesting information. It's the end of a Monday, so we only managed to pull a few examples: There were nine audit firms inspected in 2012 that had more than 100 public company audit clients in 2011. They […]
Yes, the PCAOB got a lousy deal by putting Jim Doty's name on the Memo of Understanding with China's Securities Regulatory Commission and Ministry of Finance, but Professor Paul Gillis writes in the Wall Street Journal that the Chinese don't have any room to talk, either: Without inspections, investors can't trust Chinese audits. Investors in Chinese […]
Cruising around el Twittero this morning, we came across something interesting shared by Francine McKenna: Which auditor has most China fraud problems? Deloitte by a landslide. RT @chinajinrong: @retheauditors tradingfloor.com/posts/china-fi… — Francine McKenna (@retheauditors) May 29, 2013 This post by Fredrik Oqvist, founder of China RAI, has a table that shows which audit firms have had […]
The PCAOB news is not letting up. Today, the Board released the 2012 inspection report for Deloitte. Considering the turnaround time in years past, this is pretty fast. The 2011 report was issued last December. If you count yourself as one of those people who enjoy A) reading these reports and B) quality auditing, then you will […]
As is its wont, the PCAOB has made a major announcement in very close proximity to a major American holiday. I've been assured in the past that this bad timing is not intentional, but from a PR perspective, it has the tendency to soften the thunder of an important message. But whatever, we'll go with […]
Okay, remind me — there's a saying about "three" and "trend" or "pattern" or something? Forget it, not important. What is important — at least we've made the argument that it is — is that the PCAOB released Part II of Ernst & Young's 2009 inspection report. That makes three out of four Big 4 […]
Ed. note: The following was written exclusively for Going Concern by a Big 4 auditor who wished to remain anonymous.
The PCAOB is turning into our parents. Or at least they are using the same tactics in handing out punishment. “We know you were up to no good last night, so if you just tell us what you did we’ll take that into consideration when deciding how long to ground you.”
With PwC CAKEgate in the rearviewmirror, the PCAOB appears to have taken a look around and decided it wants to tidy up a bit by shuffling around its auditing standards. Naturally, Doty & Co. like to run things by everyone first…everyone who has an opinion anyway: The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has scheduled an […]
I know what a lot of you are thinking — "The PCOAB is a bunch of couldn't-hack-it-in-public know-nothings that like nothing more than making hard-working auditors' lives a living hell. And, oh, Part II doesn't mean jack squat." FANTASTIC! Then you won't mind that I'm going to spend the next few hundred words telling you […]
Last week the PCAOB dropped Part II of PwC's 2008 and 2009 inspection reports. This was only the second time a Big 4 firm's Part II had been released since the audit profession was blessed with government regulation. It was like a fire rainbow or an unassisted triple play. Rare! Exciting-ish! We pored over the […]
I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but reading about audit procedures is incredibly dull. It's nearly as dull as actually performing some of these procedures which probably explains why the PCAOB was forced to release Part II for the 2008 and 2009 inspection reports. Luckily, reading about the failure of the most […]
The Brits can do whatever they want; Mr. Hanson has a story and he's sticking to it: Having reviewed the comment letters and feedback from the round table panelists and others, it is clear to me that there is little support for mandatory audit firm rotation. As I noted in my statement when we issued the […]
Generally speaking, there are two camps when it comes to the idea of auditor rotation or "term limits" as some like to call it. There is the camp that sees it as an area worth exploring as part of a larger conversation around auditor independence and objectivity. And then there is the camp that does […]
Oh are we still on this?: The head of the U.S. audit watchdog said on Wednesday his organization may need to resort to enforcement actions against auditors based in China if they fail to hand over documents to U.S. regulators. Jim Doty, head of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, told the U.S. Securities and […]
All busy season long, we'll be discussing exit opportunities for those of you feeling like overworked Chinese slave labor counting down the days from your cubes. Remember, there is life after public accounting, even if it doesn't feel like it now. If you've made a break for it and are living the life of your […]
Oh I bet you guys think you're slick for this one! Thanks so much for ruining my Doomsday. So here's what we've got. Let's start with Deloitte: The PCAOB identified a few particular deficiencies it didn't like: The inspection team considered certain of the deficiencies that it observed to be audit failures. Specifically, certain of […]
It's been a couple years since the PCAOB issued an auditing standard so I guess they wanted to squeak something in before this Mayan thing took a hold. Shall we cram this in before the fires start? Yes. Let's. Here's a piece of the official screed from the Board: The new standard and related amendments […]
It's more or less understood by everyone, with a few exceptions, that pursuing mandatory auditor rotation is a giant waste of time. There has been much discussion of the issue — from the hallowed walls of a PCAOB open meeting to the slums of the Going Concern comment section — and while there has been […]
The PCAOB is still chugging along spitting out reports about how sucky the firms are at doing audits, this time releasing their observations from the 2010 inspections of domestic annually inspected firms regarding deficiencies in audits of internal control – which, in fewer words, is a dig at how crappily the firms are testing internal […]
On Monday, PCAOB Chairman James Doty gave a speech where he mentioned, among other things, that "auditor term limits" was something the Board would consider in order to "protect the auditor's independence." Undoubtedly, this was disheartening news to auditors who count themselves as the Big 4 variety because they've gone on record to voice opposition and […]
In a keynote speech at the AICPA's National Conference on SEC and PCAOB developments, Chairman Jim Doty passed on the opportunity to mention extremely recent developments and instead focused on things like the importance of independent auditing to "our economic success" and audit firm culture and the PCAOB's current initiatives. In fact, Mr. Doty doesn't mention […]
Yesterday, the PCAOB held an open meeting discussing its plans for being the most dominating force in public accounting regulation over the next few years. Within these plans is a strategory to not just be the type of regulator that points out the things that you royally fucked up, but also to be a resource […]
HEY, everyone remember that really sloppy audit that 3 (then) McGladrey & Pullen auditors got smacked on the wrist and/or face for when the PCAOB found out they threw in a bunch of necessary documentation after the fact? Jonathan Weil over at Bloomberg seems to have unpuzzled the whole thing and is saying the mystery […]
Everyone knows if you're going to add evidence after an audit is over, you have to do it before the documentation completion date and you better be sure to document the additional material thoroughly. But for McGladrey (then McGladrey & Pullen) auditors Dale Arnold Hotz, Jyothi Nuthulaganti Manohar and Michael Jared Fadner, an impending PCAOB […]
PwC's November just got more annoying. According to the PCAOB's latest inspection, 41 percent of the 60 PwC audits inspected were not up to snuff, up from 37 percent last year. Issues called out by the PCAOB included failures to identify, or to address appropriately, financial statement misstatements, including failures to comply with disclosure requirements, as […]
PCAOB Board Member Jeanette Franzel, CPA, CIA, CMA, CGFM, gave a speech at University of Tennessee Corporate Governance Center today that discusses "Current Trends and Issues in Public Company Auditing." That's nice and all but the first half of the transcript is more or less a history of auditing and the PCAOB. The second half finally gets […]
Board member Lewis Ferguson tells of China's teasing ways in a speech that he's giving at the California State University SEC Financial Reporting Conference in Irvine: As a first step toward further cooperation [with China], we are working toward and have tentatively agreed on observational visits where PCAOB inspectors would observe the Chinese authorities conducting […]
Late yesterday the PCAOB released the first Big 4 firm inspection report with none other than KPMG (in full on page 2). Compliance Week reported that the House of Klynveld more or less stayed consistent with last year's findings, which basically amounts to everyone shrugging with indifference: In its first published report from the 2011 […]
It's been about a year since the PCAOB crapped out Release No. 2011-006, "Concept Release on Auditor Independence and Audit Firm Rotation." Some people in the profession think the PCAOB has no real intention of mandating audit firm rotation; rather, these professional skeptics believe the PCAOB just brought it up to appear relevant. The PCAOB […]
PCAOB Auditor Wrecking Ball Tour 2012 rolls on with the an interim report on the auditors of broker-dealers. And this time there's 100% deficiency! From the Executive Summary of the Report on the Progress of the Interim Inspection Program Related to Audits of Brokers and Dealers: This report presents observations from inspections of portions of […]
Are you a member of an audit committee that's been phoning it in? Or are you a newbie that's feeling upstaged by your fellow audit committee buds that are the so-called financial experts? Maybe you're skeptical of the words coming out of your audit firm's piehole(s) but you're not sure how to respond? Fear not! […]
PCAOB Terror Tour 2012 continues with the release of the inspection for Oakbrook Terrace's own Crowe Horwath. Up until this point, we thought that no one was going to make a run at the deplorable performances of Deloitte and McGladrey but ol' Crowe (as opposed to Old Crow) has managed to do it. PCAOB examiners found […]
As we pointed out in this morning's roundup, the New York Times' Room for Debate is discussing the success/failure of Sarbanes-Oxley. Sunday marks SarbOx's 10th birthday so naturally people in the accounting and compliance world are getting all nostalgic about it and yeah, okay, nostalgia can be fun sometimes. The Times had four contributors in […]
Ed. note: This is Lee St. Mark's second submission as we chug along in the Going Concern freelancer finals. His initial submission can be found here. You know what to do. It's no secret – the PCAOB tears at the soft underbelly of the accounting industry on a daily basis. I've seen them show up […]
In a recent survey of public companies assessing views on Sarbanes-Oxley a decade after its adoption, Protiviti also asked companies what they think of the PCAOB's recent suggestions that mandatory rotation might improve auditing. Nearly half of all survey respondents agreed that rotation would have a positive impact. Among large accelerated filers, Protiviti said 47 […]
So says an analysis of PCAOB inspection report data: The Survey of Fair Value Audit Deficiencies was released Wednesday by Acuitas, Inc., an Atlanta CPA firm that practices litigation and business valuation services. The analysis found that fair value measurement and impairment deficiencies accounted for 52 percent of all the audit deficiencies cited in the […]
Knowing you guys as well as I do, I realize it's pointless to bore you with details from Council; like how Tom Hood got snapped at by a very frustrated Maryland senator in her office or what people wore to last night's black tie gala. However, I will share with you an interesting panel yesterday […]
The Board inspected 41 audits at 21 of Grant Thornton's 51 offices. Fifteen issuers were cited in the report that included various failures, primarily related to "obtain[ing] sufficient appropriate audit evidence to support its opinions on the financial statements and on the effectiveness of [internal controls over financial reporting]." There was everything from failure to […]
Since we've sufficiently gave attention to the top 25 firms in this year's Vault Accounting 50, as well as those firms whom you all think are the bee knees, we know will present the firms that are a merger or two or three away (or the endorsement of another golfer that will pose in body […]
The PCAOB continues tearing through audit firms like a Texas twister on a random Tuesday during tax season, as it unleashed its fury on McGladrey yesterday. How bad was it? Well, Deloitte can certainly feel better about itself. The Board reported deficiencies in nine of the nineteen (~47%) audits inspected. Deloitte, if you remember, had […]
If you have absolutely nothing to do this afternoon and were unable to book a flight to DC in time to sit in on the fantastic PCAOB independence and auditor rotation meeting happening NOW, Colin is live-tweeting from @going_concern all afternoon. If you are looking for snarky, possibly unnecessary criticism of Big 4 (+ GT) […]
Yesterday, Monday Morning Auditor that everyone loves to hate, the PCAOB, announced that they would be having an open meeting on March 21-22 that will focus on auditor independence and rotation. Sorry! I meant auditor term limits. Anyway, there are going to be several big names on various panels including Paul Volcker, Harvey Pitt, Arthur Levitt, […]
I believe this particular PCAOB-hostile grunt has spoken: Dear Mr. G – I hate to break this to you, but accountants do not respect the PCAOB. We HATE the PCAOB. This organization does nothing but bring misery to our lives, for no matter how good our work product is, this group comes along and finds […]
Today, Bloomberg's Jonathan Weil wrote his fourth column exposing clients of a Big 4 audit firm whose PCAOB inspection report reveals that the audit performed was less than stellar. This time around, JW exposes two clients of PwC's Japanese Affiliate Kyoto Audit Corp.: The report [in full, below] said the board’s staff reviewed the firm’s audits for […]
Back in October, the PCAOB officially proposed that audit partners be required to slap their name on the audit report of clients that register with the SEC. For those inside the profession, this proposal isn't exactly popular, as that would put a specific name and a specific face with audit failures. In other words, no […]
PCAOB Chairman James Doty shot the breeze with the SEC for awhile today, speaking about, among other things, how the Board would handle this boatload of Chinese filers who don't seem to know their asses from their elbows when it comes to accounting and their auditors who are similarly clueless. Doty assured the Commission that […]
Back in August, the PCAOB issued a concept release on audit firm rotation and invited anyone who had the time and/or energy to comment on it (as did we). In the wonky little corners of the accounting blogosphere, there was strong opposition to rotation from Jim Peterson and Francine McKenna (although their reasons differ from your […]
Yesterday, we discussed Deloitte stinking up the joint with its PCAOB inspection report. While the firm, at large, probably puts out hundreds of quality audits, the PCAOB gumshoes found that 45% of audits stamped with a green dot had deficiencies. Today, the Board stuffed our stocking with Ernst & Young's inspection report and while it's not […]
Yesterday, the regulatory love child of Paul Sarbanes and Michael Oxley, the PCAOB, issued its 2010 inspection report for Deloitte. Deloitte was the third Big 4 firm to have their report issued this year with PwC and KPMG being issued just before Thanksgiving. While the reports for both PwC and KPMG were of the "we're […]
Another Festivus miracle! The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) – an organization providing thought leadership and guidance on internal control, enterprise risk management, and fraud deterrence – has released, for public comment, an updated Internal Control – Integrated Framework (Framework) intended to help organizations improve performance with greater agility, confidence and […]
Just when you thought the economy was looking up, out peeks the PCAOB with a friendly reminder to the auditors out there that current economic conditions warrant a tad more due care than usual.
Kids, allow us to introduce you to Staff Audit Practice Alert No. 9.
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board today published a Staff Audit Practice Alert to assist auditors in identifying matters related to the current economic environment that might affect the risk of material misstatement in financial statements and, therefore, require additional audit attention.
“Today’s volatile economic environment may affect companies’ operations and financial reporting, which has implications for audits,” said PCAOB Chairman James R. Doty. “The alert reminds auditors of their responsibilities under these conditions.”
Staff Audit Practice Alert No. 9: Assessing and Responding to Risk in the Current Economic Environment, updates Staff Audit Practice Alert No. 3, which was issued in December 2008, in light of current global economic conditions and recent enhancements to PCAOB standards.
Many of the matters discussed in Practice Alert No. 3, Audit Considerations in the Current Economic Environment — including fair value measurements, accounting estimates, going concern, and financial statement disclosures — continue to be critical in audits of 2011 financial statements. Certain of the PCAOB standards referenced in that alert regarding assessment of, and response to, risk, however, were superseded in 2010 with the Board’s adoption of eight new risk assessment standards (Auditing Standard Nos. 8-15).
“This practice alert discusses issues posed by the current economic situation and highlights certain requirements in the new risk assessment standards. Auditors should be alert to the new requirements contained in the risk assessment standards and how those requirements relate to audits performed in the current economic climate,” said Martin F. Baumann, PCAOB Chief Auditor and Director of Professional Standards.
We know you guys cannot wait to read this one, so by all means, knock yourselves out.
If you’re too busy to take the three minutes to read it, I’ll sum it up thusly: we’re doomed, so maybe SALY isn’t such a good idea after all.
So glad we’re all clear on that. Now, back to the JIT for all of you…
Actually, if you’re in to this sort of thing, it could make for some pretty interesting reading.
We pointed to a couple of reports this morning (and there are more) out there on the Board’s criticisms of the two firms, so we won’t repeat them here. The most notable thing seems to be each firm’s response to the report. KPMG went with the standard three-paragr��������������������er that promises that they’ll suck less at auditing in the future.
But as Floyd Norris pointed out, PwC’s Chairman and Senior Partner Bob Moritz as well as Assurance Leader Tim Ryan put their names on the firm’s response to the Board’s inspection that outlined what steps were being taken to improve the audit quality, which is a first. The firm also released this statement from BoMo, acknowledging the slight uptick in deficiencies:
PwC is built on our reputation for delivering quality. We also recognize that the role we play in the capital markets requires consistent, high-quality audit performance. We therefore are focused on the increase in the number of deficiencies in our audit performance reported in the 2010 PCAOB inspection over prior years. We are working to strengthen and sharpen the firm’s audit quality, including making investments designed to improve our performance over both the short- and long-term.
So you can all this – signatures, action plans, etc. – for what it’s worth but the messaging has certainly changed and it differentiates PwC from KPMG. Will have to wait and see if Deloitte or E&Y follow suit.
For some time now, quite a few people have been asking for PCAOB disciplinary proceedings to be made public. Since your beloved Board came into existence, the process of slapping around sketchy auditors has been secret much to the chagrin of those people that would like audit firms to take just a little bit [pointer and thumb about an inch apart] of responsibility when they royally screw things up. It’s all for the investors, you see. After some rib jabbing by Board Member Dan Goelzer and Chairman Jim Doty, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jack Reed (D-RI) have picked up the flag by introducing a bill that would make the proceedings public:
The bill would change a provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that requires the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board to keep disciplinary proceedings against auditing firms confidential.
Undoubtedly, this will rankle auditors who would prefer that all the skeletons stay firmly stuffed in closets. Of course what many people forget is that the secretive nature of the PCAOB disciplinary proceedings are the exception rather than the rule:
[Grassley and Reed] argued that the PCAOB’s closed proceedings run counter to the public enforcement proceedings of other regulators. Not only the SEC, but also the Labor Department, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and other government agencies use public proceedings, as does the self-regulating Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Nearly all administrative proceedings brought by the SEC against public companies, brokers, dealers, investment advisers and others are open, public proceedings.
The Reed-Grassley bill would make PCAOB hearings and all related notices, orders and motions, open and available to the public unless otherwise ordered by the board. The PCAOB procedure would then be similar to SEC Rules of Practice for similar matters, where hearings and related notices, orders, and motions are open and available to the public.
This all seems like a pretty good idea. I mean, what makes auditors so special? Exactly. They’re not. They just happened to go from self-regulated to regulated in a flash and had a few K Street types twist in some features to Sarbanes-Oxley that kept things under wraps.
The problem, as a few people have pointed out, is that the Board still isn’t really that tough on auditors. Sure, a few more people might suffer some public embarrassment (which we’re happy to point out), but will investors really be better off? That remains to be seen but at least we’ll all be able to revel in the good fun of mocking the offenders.
The dynamics at both the PCAOB and the Big Four are horrible. The incentive at the Big Four is to keep prices down to the point at which it’s impossible for a new entrant to break into their charmed group; after all, if it means they end up cutting corners, the worst that happens is that they get gummed by the toothless PCAOB. [Felix Salmon/Reuters]
Last week the bane of Big 4 auditors existence, the PCAOB, broke their cherry on releasing Part II of an inspection report for a Big 4 firm. The honor went to Deloitte, who sufficiently blew off the Board’s recommendations for 12 months, which led to the release of Part II.
Bloomberg‘s Jonathan Weil, who usually sits back with popcorn while these things go down before chiming in, got to it today but with a twist that you probably weren’t expecting: