A statement released by the SEC in connection with a recent accounting conference provides a useful and easily digestible recap of recent developments affecting all professionals involved in public company financial reporting. The statement describes matters discussed among SEC Chief Accountant Wesley Bricker and several deputy chief accountants during a panel discussion at the 2017 AICPA Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments held December 4-6 in Washington, D.C. Topics addressed include several new GAAP standards; the new auditing standard requiring, among things, disclosure of critical audit matters; auditor independence; internal control over financial reporting; the role of audit committees; international accounting, audit and disclosure matters; and the effects of emerging technologies.
The conference also featured speeches by several representatives of the Office of the Chief Accountant. A speech by Senior Associate Chief Accountant Ryan Wolfe focused on the SEC’s enforcement role as it relates to the accounting profession and discussed lessons learned and common themes from past situations where things went wrong (e.g., frauds, restatements and audit failures). There is often “someone involved who recognized at some point that what they were involved with didn’t feel quite right or make sense.” In those situations, it is necessary to do the work and ask the questions needed to allay those feelings of unease. By contrast, burying your head in the sand and hoping for the best, accepting explanations that don’t make sense and thinking someone else will take care of the problem are typical mistakes to be avoided.