US corporates be warned: FEI sets out main reporting issues for 2004
The president and CEO of Finance Executives International, Colleen Sayther, has set out her views on the major regulatory issues for US corporates in 2004.
Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, somewhat unsurprisingly, comes top of her essential selection. “Ensure that you have complied with Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404,” she warns, “which requires management to assess its internal control environment and the external auditor to attest to the internal control environment.”
Although last in her list of must-do’s for corporates, the issue of international accounting convergence is not one to be shrugged off lightly by US corporates. “Monitor what’s going on at the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB),” cautions Sayther. “Whatever projects are on the IASB agenda are likely to be on FASB’s agenda in the near term (including pension accounting, insurance accounting, lease accounting).”
Given the number of US corporates to enter the media spotlight for all the wrong reasons in 2003, Sayther’s reference to transparency and governance should have plenty of avid listeners. “Use judgement in determining items that are important for investors to better understand your company’s financial position and future trends.”
And just in case US corporates haven’t quite got the message, Sayther adds: “Disclose your audit committee financial expert in accordance with Sarbanes-Oxley.