Accounting Professionals Speak Out in Online Forum

Members of the accounting profession joined together Tuesday in an Open Forum sponsored by AccountingWEB and voiced their views on the proposed SEC hearings on auditor independence.

Gary Shamis, chairman of the AICPA's Management of an Accounting Practice committee, Frank Minter, President of the Institute of Management Accountants, and Steven Gaylord, partner in charge of the audit department at Katz, Sapper, & Miller, led a lively discussion on the nature of the proposed regulations and the impact such rules might have on the accounting profession as a whole.

Mr. Gaylord voiced a concern that, if implemented, the SEC guidelines might establish a precedent for other regulators, such as the Department of Labor and state accountancy boards, that have jurisdiction over firms.

All three speakers indicated a belief that a change in the nature of services an accounting firm can provide will result in the best and brightest job candidates moving on to other activities, that firms will have difficulties in attracting the top talent, and that a lessening in audit talent will ultimately affect the quality of audits performed.

According to Mr. Shamis, should the SEC guidelines go into effect, the AICPA will seek a restraining order and take the battle to court and through Congress. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if state accountancy boards will join forces with the SEC.

Read the full transcript of this open forum.

Recommendations coming out of this forum included writing your representatives in Congress and the SEC. The SEC is still accepting written responses to the proposed guidelines, until September 25.

Comments to the SEC should be submitted in triplicate to Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20549-0609. Comments also may be submitted electronically at the following e-mail address: rule-comments@sec.gov. Comment letters should refer to File No. S7-13-00; this file number should be included on the subject line if e-mail is used.

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