San Diego (Sept. 29, 2003) -- While the accounting scandals have given the profession a black eye and the current corporate governance environment is probably giving them a headache, there is an upside: as a result of all of the changes, CPAs will be in demand to serve on audit committees, a partner of a Big Four firm told CPAs gathered here.

"Given the current movement of oversight and legislative issues, we as accountants are going to see more opportunities to participate as board and audit committee members," PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Bruce G. Blakley told attendees at the American Society of Women Accountants conference.

Under Sarbanes-Oxley, at least one member of a public company's audit committee is supposed to be a financial expert. "They're looking for people with our background," Blakley said. "The opportunities are there. And this is not just an issue for public companies. It's an issue for private companies and non-profits too."

However, new rules under Sarbanes-Oxley mean major changes for audit committees that accountants must be aware of before they decide to serve on boards, Blakley warned. For example, SOX has made the audit committee responsible for the appointment and compensation of the auditor and for oversight of the auditor's work. The audit committee must also pre-approve audit and non-audit services.

He noted that the responsibilities of some audit committees have expanded to include areas such as risk management, compliance, federal sentencing guidelines, and information systems.

-- Melissa Klein

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