Auditing I| Sarbanes Oxley Act| Assignment 1| | Rachael Lantz| 8/15/2012| | Since the financial crisis investors have become less confident in the companies within the market. In order to restore confidence within the market and the audits of their financial statements Senator Sarbanes and Representative Oxley created the legislation known as the Sarbanes Oxley Act which came into effect in 2002. The legislation created major regulations on company financial reporting and the regulation of it.
Forcing management to be accountable for the financial reporting and internal controls within their company and requiring the audit committees to report on their opinion of the company’s internal processes. (Soxlaw. com) The Sarbanes–Oxley act requires that the audit committee of a public company consist only of independent members and be responsible for the appointment, termination, and compensation of the audit firm.
Because the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 explicitly shifts responsibility for hiring and firing of the auditor from management to the audit committee for public companies, the audit committee is viewed as “the client” in those engagements. Because of the lack of independence between the parties involved, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act prohibits related party transactions that involve personal loans to executives. It is now unlawful for any public company to provide personal credit or loans to any director or executive officer of the company.
Banks or other financial institutions are permitted to make normal loans to their directors and officers using market rates, such as residential mortgages. This reduces the risk of assets being misused by the management. (Arens, 2010) The risk of fraud has been reduced since the passage of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. By requiring that the financial statements are a fair representation of the company the amount of fraudulent statements produced has been reduced. The Act regulates that the chief executive officer and the chief financial fficer and the external auditors have reviewed the financial reports and that they are free from material misstatements or misleading information. Section 404 of the act requires that the auditor attest to and issue a report on management’s assessment of internal control over financial reporting. To express an opinion on internal controls, the auditor obtains an understanding of and performs tests of controls related to all significant account balances, classes of transactions, and disclosures and related assertions in the financial statements (Arens, 2010).
The act requires management to disclose all material information or changes within their accounting processes. By requiring senior management to review the reports they are held accountable for the financial accounting of the firm, and procedures to prevent employees and other members within an organization from committing fraud or theft and management is legally responsible if material misstatements have been made.
By making management accountable then they are less likely to commit fraud if faced with jail time. Management and stockholders frequently have different goals. Management often wishes to expand and use the company’s assets in different ways than a stockholder. Management’s accountability of the financial reports often helps encourage management to use company assets in appropriate ways. Disclosures were also a reduction in risk of fraud because all material information must be disclosed.
By requiring this disclosure if a company’s net income increased this year due to a change in accounting method or principle this information must be disclosed in the annual report. (sec. gov) The public company accounting oversight board, PCAOB is a non-profit organization created by the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 to oversee the audits of public companies. The PCAOB helps to protect the investors from fraud by regulating auditor’s requirements within the Sarbanes Oxley Act (pcaobus. org).
PCAOB Standard 2 requires that the audit report on internal control over financial reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley include the auditor’s opinion as to whether management’s assessment of the design and operating effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting is fairly stated in all material respects. Management must document the design of controls, including all five control components and also the results of its testing and evaluation. The types of information gathered by management to assess and document internal control effectiveness can take many forms, including policy anuals, flowcharts, narratives, documents, questionnaires and other forms that are in either paper or electronic formats. The process to develop the auditor’s opinion involves both evaluating management’s assessment process and arriving at the auditor’s independent assessment of the internal controls’ design and operating effectiveness (Arens, 2010) With the passage of the act in 2002 there are now laws governing the relationship between corporations and the auditing firms, the requirement of auditors to be rotated on a regular basis, and the enforcement and regulation of internal controls.
Accounting professionals such as Certified Public Accountants have seen an increase in the demand of the services since the act has been put into action. And senior auditors have become more involved within the audit committee. The relationship between auditors and their clients has changed since the passage of the act. With rotation requirements auditors are no longer influenced by management to report anything other than their independent opinions. (aicpa. org) Since the passage of SOX Act the auditing profession has been regulated for the first time.
The PCAOB board members are appointed by the Securities and Exchange Commission and therefore government regulated. Under these regulations investors and potential investors are better protected from fraud. By requiring the auditors to be accountable as well as the management the public are given a better more accurate representation of the company in the annual report. With these regulations in place and the increases in regulations within the future the amount of frauds will reduce each year. After the passage of the act with the exception of the years 2007 and 2009 the average number of disciplinary actions against auditors is four.
With the board regulating auditor standards the temptation to report incorrectly on an audit has decreased. For instance the board is in the process of amending the act to disclose relationships with related parties and their transactions because these transactions are hard to account for and propose a threat to misstatements (sec. gov). References: Arens, Elder, Beasley, 2010 Custom Edition, Auditing and assurance services, Pearson Publishing. http://www. soxlaw. com/index. htm http://pcaobus. org/Pages/default. aspx http://www. sec. gov/about/laws/soa2002. pdf http://www. aicpa. org/Pages/Default. aspx