Conflicts of Interest

I just have to rant about one more result of the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act. Publicly traded companies that fall under the regulatory weight (of SOX) must have a third party auditor sign off that the books are properly accounted (before they can be closed at the end of the fiscal year). However, this same third party auditor determines the level of due diligence (or rigor) they require before they will sign off on a company’s books. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the third party auditor to take the most ridiculously strict interpretation of SOX before they will sign off on a company’s books (and pile up solid earnings for their auditing company). This is a huge conflict of interest. Many companies are strong armed into draconian implementations of SOX which severely impact worker productivity. The spirit of the SOX Act is to make sure proper controls are in place and a solid paper trail is present to follow in the case of accounting irregularities. It seems to me that the auditors are the party most guilty of conflicts of interest and not properly segregating their duties.