SEC and accountants to forge new path

SEC and accountants to forge new path

After several years of strained relations, accountants and the US Securities and Exchange Commission are forging a new, friendlier path together.

SEC chairman Harvey Pitt told the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants that the days of poor communication between accountants and the regulator were over.

‘There was a time when the accounting profession was afraid to talk to the SEC and there was a time when the SEC was not always willing to talk to the profession,’ said Pitt. ‘I’m here to say that those days are over.’

Besides attempting to patch up a relationship long in need of some nurturing, the regulator laid out the SEC’s plans for revisiting existing disclosure rules with the aim of encouraging real time disclosures.

Pitt, who was speaking at the AICPA autumn council meeting, also urged the gathering to ensure US securities markets remained strong in order to encourage foreign companies to list there.

The news comes after the SEC announced this week it would be relaxing its enforcement rules to speed up processes as well as make better use of SEC resources.

Pitt’s predecessor Arthur Levitt launched a huge campaign to crack down on conflicts of interest cases at the world’s largest professional services firms.

The campaign viewed by many as a vendetta against the Big Five firms concluded in a watered down version of the original plans to force all accountancy firms to sell off their consulting arms. The SEC announced a year ago that there would be no ban on firms offering consulting services to audit clients, provided they meet strict disclosure conditions.

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