University of Southern California

32nd Annual SEC and Financial Reporting Institute Conference
Gathering Addresses New Regulations, Features Chair of SEC
June 28, 2013 • by News at Marshall

Nearly 500 high-ranking finance officers, CEOs and CPAs gathered to hear from the nation’s top financial regulators about current developments and trends that will impact their business during the 32nd Annual SEC and Financial Reporting Institute Conference on May 30. The conference, sponsored by the USC Leventhal School of Accounting, brings federal officials, leading academics, regulators and standard setters together to discuss regulations, enforcement and to establish a beneficial dialogue.

“This conference is a great opportunity for the regulators, the rule-makers to come to the West Coast, to Los Angeles, to help people understand what the cutting-edge issues are in financial reporting,” said Randolph Beatty, director of the SEC and Financial Reporting Institute, Accounting Circle professor of Accounting, Leventhal. “After the financial crisis, markets cry out for verifiable news, information that represents what’s happening in individual companies as well as the market in general. There’s a very big desire in markets to have numbers and information about companies that will hold up to scrutiny. The accounting profession is in a position of trying to assure that. We provide a very important function.”

This year, much focus was given to new standards on revenue recognition, which will be released in coming months, as well as standards on financial instrument projects (classification and measurement; and impairment) and leasing, which will be completed in 2014, with one on insurance thereafter. Russell Golden, chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), spoke about these “convergence” projects with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), and the implementation process.

“Issuing final standards is just the beginning – not the end – of the process. Once the standard is issued, we plan to spend a considerable amount of time and energy addressing implementation and education issues,” said Golden, outlining transition resource groups focused on education, amendments and interpretation which will include representatives from the preparer, auditor and investor communities.

Revenue recognition standards will effectively impact all organizations, according to William Holder, dean of the Leventhal School of Accounting.

“There are exceptionally major changes coming down the pike in terms of accounting. The analytical basis, the historical models of performance are all going to be affected substantially and that will require some recalibration, reconsideration of various performance metrics and standards that have grown to be used by analysts and other financial statement users over the years,” said Holder. “Having a group of regulators meet with a group of individuals who are essentially subject to those regulations to discuss these matters, to air concerns, to receive and give information is a very healthy kind of activity. It not only helps those subject to the regulations to implement the regulations in the intended ways, but it also informs the regulators, the standard setters of both the limits as well as the implications of the regulations they are pondering.”

In addition to presentations on the new regulations, which featured commentary from Paul Beswick, chief accountant for the SEC, and Howard Scheck, chief accountant in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, outlined recent compliance and enforcement issues on which the agency was focusing.

Elisse Walter, the outgoing chair of the SEC, also gave a keynote address – a conference highlight in which she touched on her lifelong love of accounting, two decades with the SEC and the crucial role of accounting professionals in implementing both new and current regulations.

“Because financial information is the starting point for an investor’s decision-making process, high-quality accounting standards are critical. Accurate and useful financial information creates the environment in which capital formation sprouts, grows and, sadly, sometimes withers,” said Walter. “We are charged with creating and implementing an accounting and audit foundation that will allow investors to make sense of the rapidly changing financial markets, and ensure that the results are not only timely and accurate, but also comprehensible and useful to investors.”

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.