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Protiviti's 2013 Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Survey Shows Companies' Need For More Scrutiny On High-Risk Processes

MENLO PARK, Calif., May 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Demand for added attention to high-risk processes, growing costs and the increasing role of IT controls and testing reports are some of the key changes and challenges companies faced over the last year as they worked to meet Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) requirements, according to findings in the 2013 Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Survey ( www.protiviti.com/soxsurvey) by global consulting firm Protiviti ( www.protiviti.com).

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When executives and professionals involved in SOX compliance were asked what was driving the most change in their SOX compliance processes, 66 percent said there was at least moderate change due to demand for increasing process and control documentation for high-risk processes. Additionally, 60 percent of respondents indicated that the increased amount of time required for walkthroughs and documentation around processes was also driving moderate change.

"To continue to improve their SOX compliance efforts, companies need to intensify their scrutiny of high-risk processes such as financial reporting, accrual processes, stock options and equity, and taxes," said Brian Christensen, Protiviti's executive vice president for global internal audit.  "The study shows that companies are beginning to adjust in that direction and the shift aligns with guidance from the SEC and PCAOB."

"It's important to note that SOX compliance programs and processes should remain agile and ready to change course if public companies are to adhere to the law in an effective and cost-efficient manner," said Christensen. "As demonstrated by regulators, providers of ongoing guidance (e.g. COSO) and rapidly changing business conditions, the achievement of sustainable, cost-effective and value-enhancing compliance processes remains an ongoing journey that requires continual vigilance."

With regard to the new COSO internal control framework, nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of the Protiviti survey respondents were aware of the revision process. Not surprisingly, the vast majority (85 percent) were against early implementation in 2013. If given an adoption option, respondents were fairly evenly split across several potential implementation schedules, including fiscal year 2014 and adoption after 2014.

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