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I believe the results of those inquiries would thenprovide important information that would enable the Commission to evaluate this issue and take it into full consideration before finalizing any rule amendments.
The third assertion, final assertion, often made about the quality issue is that these audit-dominated firms of the future will be unattractive and, therefore, will be enable to attract and retain the best and brightest people.
I’m a bit personally disappointed by this assertion, since it was just one of those firms or a firm very much like that that I joined about 35 years ago and that I found to be very challenging and very satisfying professionally for a 35-year career.
And I would suggest that that kind of firm is probably the one that attracted and retained the leadership of other firms, but I do recognize that times have changed. People have different choices available to them today than we might have had 20 or more years ago and that this can be a challenge for the future years of the profession.
CHAIRMAN LEVITT: First let me say I applaud you for your very candid, comprehensive analysis of this issue and a willingness to, kind of, stand against the wind.
What do you think the Commission can do to try to bring about a consensus resolution of these very, very divisive issues?
MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman, I would like to have an answer to that question. I tend to think that that answer may not be achievable, or that outcome may not be achievable. There are some very deeply-held differences of opinion.
They are motivated by professional concerns. They are linked to business issues and operating issues for individual firms, and I would think the likelihood of you being able to reconcile those differences in all instances is not very likely.
And I would suggest that, at the end, some different positions will remain, and you will have to make an appropriate choice between your belief as to what is necessary for the viability of the financial reporting process and what you think is most important for the viability of the auditing profession.
I just think that that is an issue that has both substance and appearance ramifications that you need to hear more about
And I know that you will listen to all the evidence that is presented to you before reaching those conclusions. In the end, I would think you’ll bring some items closer together.
I really would hope that you would be able to bring some degree of closure or at least narrow the gap with respect to this subject of audit quality because I just don’tthink it’s acceptable for the public to be confronted with a situation where one group of firms is saying that audit quality is going to be seriously impaired and other firms are making changes in that same direction, raising questions Oklahoma title and payday loans in the mind of the public about the quality of auditing overall.
CHAIRMAN LEVITT: I agree with that. I have no question, having served as chair of a variety of audit committees and having worked with nearly all of the firms that have a stake in this today that they are motivated by sound convictions.
These firms are solid, honorable professionals, and have done an outstanding job in providing America’s markets with a reputation second to none. I think that all parties to this dialogue are honorably motivated, and I shall do all in my power to try to gain a better understanding of the different views that are out there today and, to the extent possible, to turn down the level of emotional rhetoric that surrounds this.