Second Auditor Independence Hearing Today

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Members of CPA firms, representatives of the AICPA and England's Institute of Chartered Accountants, lawyers, advisers, members of accountancy boards and CPA societies, and corporate accounting officials are gathering in New York today to present testimony before the SEC regarding the proposed limitations on auditor independence.

Forty speakers representing both sides of this issue will take the podium, briefly presenting their views in hopes of supporting or swaying the opinion of Arthur Levitt, Chairman of the Securities & Exchange Commission, a man who seems to hold the fate of the accounting profession in his hands.

Auditing services have dropped from 70 percent to 30 percent of the services provided by accounting firms nationwide, according to a spokesperson from the SEC. This does not reflect a decrease in the amount of auditing services provided, but rather a dramatic increase in the amount of new services being provided in addition to auditing.

Although the Panel on Audit Effectiveness, a group commissioned by the SEC to investigate the effects of the new services on audit quality, could show no definitive proof that audit services have suffered as a result of the new range of services provided by accountants, the SEC continues to go forward with its efforts to curb the consultancy services provided by the accounting profession.

Today's hearings mark day two of three days of public hearings before the SEC. The first day of hearings occurred on July 26, and day three is next week, September 20.

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