Like many others, we're interested in the work of the Securities and Exchange Commission's recently created advisory Committee on Improvements to Financial Reporting. Improvement is something that everybody likes, at least if it doesn't really change very much, and certainly not the important stuff. The committee has some outstanding members, as well as others we don't expect to come up with much new because they've had other, even better, platforms for initiating change but didn't get it done in the past.The chair is Robert Pozen, the non-executive chairman of MFR Investment Management, one of seven American subsidiaries of the Canadian Sun Life Financial group. On the one hand, his affiliation with a mutual fund company is promising because it might mean that Pozen thinks like a financial statement user. However, he is an attorney by training and has been a general counsel in the industry, but never an analyst. Indeed, his present position might make him think more like a statement preparer than a user. Only time will tell which perspective he will apply, although evidence suggests the former will prevail.

Charged to explain the committee's task and lay out his views about the issues, Pozen prepared a "discussion paper" (www.sec.gov/about/offices/oca/acifr/acifr_discussion.htm). He explains, with awkward tautology, that CIFiR is charged with "examining the U.S. financial reporting system to identify ways to improve the system of financial reporting."

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