Firms highlight Sarbanes-Oxley Act benefits

Corporations’ internal control over financial reporting has “significantly or moderately improved” in the ten years since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act became law, according to a majority of executives surveyed by consulting firm Protiviti.

“Sarbanes-Oxley has had its share of controversy in the past, but nearly 70 per cent of respondents reported that the internal control over financial reporting structure in their organisations has improved since compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 became a requirement,” said Brian Christensen, Protiviti’s executive vice president, global internal audit.

“Companies are still learning and working to improve continuously the quality of their internal controls as well as the effectiveness and efficiency of their compliance processes, even ten years later.”

The majority of the 600 executives surveyed – all of whom have been involved in implementing Sarbanes-Oxley – said they are now focusing on automation of their companies’ internal controls to realise the full benefit of the legislation.

Only 17 per cent of respondents said they have no plans for further automation.

“Automating key controls likely represents the ‘final frontier’ in terms of significant Sarbanes-Oxley process improvement and cost savings,” said Jim DeLoach, Protiviti’s senior SOX practice leader.

The survey also identified the top benefit of SOX as “enhanced understanding of control design and control operating effectiveness” (44 per cent), followed closely by “internal audit’s ability to perform more traditional audits” (43 per cent).

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