I recently marked my two-year anniversary as editor of Accounting Today. I say marked, as opposed to celebrated, because unfortunately, my anniversary falls on Sept. 11.
As I look back on the past 24 months, I think about the quantum changes that have taken place and not just the after-effects of Sept. 11-- which no doubt were exponential.
The pace has been so frenetic that at times I found myself asking colleagues for Dramamine. Even the world-famous Coney Island Cyclone seemed understated when compared to the ride the profession has taken in two years.
We witnessed the final stages of the conflagration over audit independence rules, which unbeknownst at the time to both opponents and proponents, would pale in comparison to the reform measures that would be mandated about 20 months later.
We got a new sheriff at the SEC, which has yet to be quantified whether it is a good thing or a bad thing despite Senators, who as a group, unanimously approved his appointment, but who are now requesting that he step down.
Americans who didn’t know an audit from an Audi were put on a steep learning curve. For investors who didn’t remember the dangers of derivatives and hedging from the Orange County Calif., disaster of 1995, got a rude refresher course with a certain energy provider based in Houston.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.
We saw the collapse of a 90-year-old firm, whose reputation was once the gold standard among auditors. By the time it soaped the windows on its audit practice at the end of last month, Arthur Andersen was reduced to little more than fodder for political cartoons and opening monologues for Leno and Letterman.
Post-Enron, we saw a spate of accounting scandals at other high-flyers like WorldCom, Adephia, ImClone, and Tyco. And as a sidebar, I’ll admit to a guilty pleasure in watching regulators put more heat on home entertainment diva Martha Stewart than a convection oven.
We witnessed the breakup of the Public Oversight Board as well as the profession decidedly rejecting the controversial XYZ global business credential.
And finally, we saw lawmakers from both sides of the aisle huddle to draft massive accounting reform legislation, which was signed into law on July 30.
As a result, we now have something called the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.
I don’t know what the profession will do for an encore. At times I want the pace to continue, but I’d also welcome a proverbial quiet period as well.
But whatever unfolds, one thing is for certain. Over the next 24 months, the profession will be very different from my "rookie year."
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