S. Scott Voynich, Chair of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, said today that further changes were necessary to regain the confidence of American investors. Voynich was the keynote speaker at the Institute's 2003 AICPA National Conference on Current SEC Developments, which opened today.
"It is not enough to embrace change," Voynich said to an audience of nearly 2,000 CPAs, regulators and reporters. "We have to drive it."
Voynich described a number of initiatives the AICPA has underway:
- An on-line Audit Committee Matching System at www.aicpa.org to help companies that are finding it difficult to recruit qualified members for their audit committees. AICPA members can register to serve on an audit committee, and companies can scrutinize the database to find potential candidates.
- A 136-page Audit Committee Toolkit - http://www.aicpa.org/Audcommctr/toolkits/homepage.htm - that helps members of audit committees get to the heart of the audit issues they should be addressing; 20,000 copies of the toolkit are in circulation.
- A multi-faceted anti-fraud program, the brainchild of the AICPA and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. It includes an Institute for Fraud Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. The AICPA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also collaborating to stamp out corporate fraud.
- The Center for Public Company Audits, which Voynich characterized as "the voice for the collective profession in our nation’s capital." The Center will serve as a guide for auditors of SEC registrants to help them meet the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
- A Special Committee on Enhanced Business Reporting, which evolved out of the AICPA's belief that investors are entitled to more transparent and timely financial information. The committee is working to establish a consortium that would bring together the investment and lending community, government, public and private companies, software developers, academia, and accounting firms – all with the goal of improving the quality and transparency of information used for decision making. The consortium is scheduled for launch in 2004.
"In so many areas, our profession is involved in change," Voynich said. "In some areas, we are helping to drive it. In some, we are helping to manage it. In some cases, we are responding to change and trying to make it work more fairly and efficiently.
"One thing does not change," he emphasized. "Our commitment to a professional standard. When we maintain that commitment, then change is not something that can overwhelm us. Change cannot uproot our world. It can only improve it. Because what it becomes is integrity in action."