The Obama administration’s new Securities Exchange Commission head Mary Schapiro has made it clear that there will be no more delaying of the Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 reporting requirement for so-called non-accelerated filers. These are public companies with market caps of under $75 million a year, a group that has been growing dramatically thanks to the stock market collapse.
The pressure is now on firms to find cost-effective ways to conduct self-assessments of their internal controls. Recognizing that smaller firms (including newly smaller ones) have concerns about the cost of compliance, Schapiro, during her Senate her confirmation hearing, promised to “make sure” smaller public companies “have the tools they need to comply with 404.” One option for meeting the Dec. 31 compliance deadline could be a new set of tools being offered by Thomson Reuters, both additions to the firm’s Checkpoint Tools product line. The tools can also be used by much larger firms for their SOX 404 compliance work, says Scott Spradling, senior director for new product development in the company’s tax and accounting division.
The SMART Practice Aids-Internal Audit “walks internal auditors through a top-down risk-based approach,” Spradling says. The tool creates test programs and also generates documentation in MS Word file format, which can be stored in any platform being used by the company. The second tool, Checkpoint Tools for Internal Audit, he says, allows internal audits to be conducted of any financial statement area of the company, such as accounts receivable or financial instruments, providing a complete set of checklists and practices.