Corporate Finance & Governance | Legislative / Regulatory

SOX redux

For years, the question about Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has been this: Are the benefits worth the cost? Small and mid-size businesses in particular have complained that the onerous regulation robs them of time and money and offers precious little return on investment.

Congress apparently is paying attention. According to, a bill that died in committee last year has been reintroduced as a way "to reduce some of the financial burdens that have been put on small- to mid-cap businesses as a part of attesting to the soundness of their internal-control functions," said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), one of the bill's sponsors.

Many CFOs, though, aren't watching Congress. Instead, they're turning their attention to the SEC and the PCAOB. Each regulatory body has put forth revised internal control standards recently, but according to this article, finance chiefs say those standards won't do any good because they cancel each other out. Writes Sarah Johnson: "The tone and wording of the rules are too different to accomplish their main goal: to get senior top corporate management and audit firms on the same page in assessing and attesting to a company's internal controls over financial reporting."

Still, some are adamant that Section 404 is doing its job. What do you think?


Bill Sheridan