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Survey: Sarbox Compliance Does Pay Off Over Time

Posted by Lora Bentley 25 Jun 2010 3:48:23 PM

As much as accelerated filers griped about the burden of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance in the initial years, a new study from business consulting and internal audit firm Protiviti revealed that their tunes change a bit as they gain more experience with meeting those requirements.

 Specifically, in the survey of more than 400 executives and professionals across a variety of industries, 70 percent said the benefits of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance outweigh the cost. Over time, the many man hours and all the money spent on software to automate controls, consultants, auditors, filing fees, etc., pays off. Further, 87 percent of respondents said complying with Sarbanes-Oxley reaps benefits - beyond avoiding trouble from regulators.

 As for what those benefits are, 54 percent said they better understood the design and effectiveness of their internal control. Nearly half indicated compliance increased efficiency and effectiveness of their companies' operations (46 percent) and allowed their internal auditors to perform more traditional audits (43 percent).

 Other respondents - though not as many - indicated that compliance allowed external auditors to rely more on internal audit results or helped them to more easily identify duplicate or unnecessary controls.

 A mere 13 percent of respondents said the only reason they bother with Sarbanes-Oxley compliance is to not run afoul of the law.  They see no benefit in complying.

 I'd almost bet that 13 percent is made up of some combination of non-accelerated filers who are waiting to see whether Congress will exempt them from some aspects of it and companies that are convinced the U.S. Supreme Court will decide the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is unconstitutional and strike down the whole thing.

 I don't think it will be quite that simple. But either way, they won't have to wait long. A Supreme Court decision is expected on Monday.