Springfield, Mo., and Seattle (Feb. 27, 2004) -- In a move aimed at bolstering their internal due diligence, regional accounting giants BKD and Moss Adams have both sought additional oversight of their professional and business practices, the firms announced.

“The business failures and alleged audit shortcomings leading up to Sarbanes-Oxley, GAO Amendment No. 3 and the re-examination of ethics by many state boards of accounting have caused most accountants to think more deeply about the ethics of our profession and the associated risks to our finances and reputations," said Moss Adams chairman Robert L. Bunting. "Moss Adams is taking the serious step of taking significant action to further ensure our firm continues to meet our professional and business ethics standards.”

“We recognize, as do the regulators, that ethics and integrity start with the tone at the top,” said BKD managing partner William E. Fingland Jr. “Formation of independent advisory boards charged with oversight of our firms’ quality controls affecting our public responsibilities sends a clear message that we walk the talk.”

BKD’s three-member public interest council will independently review and monitor the firm's peer review process, independence standards and procedures, and its internal quality controls aimed at ensuring the firm meets its responsibilities to the public. The council will also be available to employees who want to discuss specific council observations or recommendations; may meet with partners and employees to assess knowledge of the firm’s values and tone at the top; and/or attend continuing education conferences to monitor presentations and interview staff.

Council appointees Raymond C. Dockweiler, director emeritus of the University of Missouri School of Accountancy in Columbia; Stephen L. Hayford, professor of business law, ethics and dispute resolution in the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University in Bloomington; and Thomas S. Stewart, the managing partner of and a practicing attorney for Lathrop & Gage L.C. in Kansas City, Mo., will serve two-to-three year terms. Fingland noted that the council members will have "unlimited access to the people and areas of our practice that affect our public responsibilities.”


Jeffrey B. Van Duzer will serve as an independent observer of Moss Adams' governance processes and will assist in evaluating the firm's efforts to build legal, safe and ethical standards for partners, managers and other employees. Van Duzer is dean of the Seattle Pacific University School of Business and Economics and an associate professor of business law and ethics. He will attend Moss Adams’ executive committee meetings, will meet with partners to discuss their views on ethics issues and policies, and will have access to anyone in the firm.

“Jeff has a blank check to go anywhere and to talk to anyone in the firm to make sure ethical behavior is an integral part of our culture and common behavior at Moss Adams,” Bunting said.

BKD’s public interest council and Moss Adams’ independent observer plan to share best practices and observations and might jointly issue white papers on issues associated with the profession’s public responsibilities.

Both firms rank among the 15 largest in the nation. Springfield, Mo.-based BKD ranks as the largest firm in the upper Midwest, with 2003 revenues of $215.7 million, 27 offices in 11 states, and nearly 1,500 employees, including nearly 200 partners. Seattle-based Moss Adams ranks as the largest firm in the West with 2003 revenues of roughly $180 million, 18 offices in three states and nearly 1,300 employees, including more than 180 partners.

-- WebCPA staff

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