Speakout! – News & Trends
ANDERSEN ALUM FEELS DRAWN INTO THE SPOTLIGHT’S GLARE
As a former Arthur Andersen alumni, I feel drawn into the spotlight–but not as the shining star! In the past, we were the shining stars. During my four years at Andersen, I was taught that my integrity must come before all else. That was more than 15 years ago. During my career I have been challenged on a few occasions to bend to the pressure of a company or a client. I have always said that after my long hours at work I want to be able to go home and sleep! That has kept me on the straight and narrow. I do think that the profession will survive this ordeal. However, we are getting the questions and we must have favorable responses.
DEBE GILLESPIE, CPA
RESPONSE TO “READ THE FINANCIALS” IN THE MARCH/APRIL CALIFORNIA CPA
A recent real estate article in the San Jose Mercury News stated that the government was evaluating the tax breaks “given” to homeowners. I queried the author: “Are the federal tax break statistics netted against the standard deductions given up?” He responded immediately: “No, the focus is simply the size and distribution of various tax expenditures.” Another example of government accounting off by billions.
GEORGE TOPLIFF, CPA
CPAs IN INDUSTRY SHOULDN’T BE FOXES IN THE HEN HOUSE
I disagree with [former Andersen CEO Joseph] Berardino. Our professional standards have come under the highest scrutiny since any point in our history. Intelligent people from diverse professions solicit, debate and decide what’s best for us. The process is modern and admired throughout the world. Most of the world is still catching up.
CalCPA Chair David George was also correct in his letter to the Los Angeles Times published Feb. 17, by pointing out that management and boards are responsible for financial statements (but maybe not with veracity). Only caretakers of the books have the in-depth knowledge to assure compliance. As a member in industry, it would be very careless of me to “not know” of serious control breakdowns and conflicts of interest. Even more so for me, since I am a CPA in industry who is entrusted to guard the shareholders, board and public from misuse. We, in industry, are not supposed to be foxes in the hen house.
We don’t need to change GAAP or GAAS. We need to follow them. There are more than enough FASB, GAAS and SEC pronouncements to tell us to do the right thing. There are rules for revenue recognition, options, asset impairment, loan losses and many others. I do not know of any new technology that doesn’t fit the rules. All business matters are reduced to transactions, and the intent is easily understood. I don’t remember one contract, lease or sale/purchase that befuddled me.
What’s needed is for CPAs in industry to step up. The problem is creditability and not technique. We are stewards of corporate assets that are guided by the best principles in the world. We act and interpret those and ask for formal compliance statements from colleagues. The wrong culture is under the microscope. CPAs doing audits need to continue their oversight, but that won’t increase credibility. CPAs in industry will and can.
Unfortunately, industry CPAs’ stature doesn’t seem to be recognized or opinions solicited. I don’t remember one congressman, senator, government official or accounting-profession spokesperson mention CPAs in industry. Perhaps we’re seen as lacking independence or bought off. Not true. We’ve all had our share of challenges and personal risks standing up to co-workers to state the accounting facts–favorable or unfavorable to the market, shareholders and board. I think it can be made easier for us if CPAs in industry do a better job informing the public of our mission and challenges.
Maybe it’s time to tell people what we stand for. We are committed to fair presentation, full disclosure and strong controls. We work diligently every day to provide them. We can’t say that sometimes we didn’t “cave in” to an accounting that was borderline. We are human.
The Enron event gave us more strength to ensure we stay straight on our path and stand up to misuse. We got a real wake up call.
BILL GOMBAR, CPA, GFO
PROUD PARENT HAILS MARCH/APRIL COVER
I see you finally put a beautiful woman on the cover. Keep it up and I may become a member. I am a little one sided on my opinion because she is my daughter, Erin Nagle.
SELLAR B. NUGENT, SECRETARY/TREASURER OREGON STATE LEGISLATIVE BOARD
THANKS FOR THE UPDATE
Thanks for keeping us updated on CalCPA’s response to Enron-related matters like David George’s letter and our statements. We appreciate your support in light of the erroneous finger-pointing at our profession as a whole. Please indicate that we stand behind George in this regard.
KEVIN M. GREEN, CPA
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