Eighty-four percent of senior finance executives polled by global CPA and business advisory firm Grant Thornton said that rules that allow companies in bankruptcy to turn over their pension obligations to the federal Pension Benefits Guaranty Corp. should be tightened.
Meanwhile, senior finance executives surveyed in the GT poll want all companies to be held to a higher standard when it comes to accounting for their retirement liabilities, as 87 percent said that companies should be required to account for pension plans on their balance sheet.


The Grant poll comes as House and Senate lawmakers scramble to reconcile pension bills -- that would soften some existing pension guidelines by giving companies more time to cover pension shortfalls, adding pension exemptions for certain industries and specific companies, and calling for companies to pay higher premiums to the PBGC.


The GT survey polled 122 chief financial officers and comptrollers at companies ranging in size from more than $2 billion in annual revenues to less than $50 million in annual revenues.


"Senior finance executives have spent the past few years making sure that their own financial houses are in order in response to Sarbanes-Oxley requirements," notes Ed Nusbaum, chief executive officer of Grant Thornton LLP. "Now they want to see Congress take additional steps that will compel companies to accept greater responsibility for meeting those obligations and strengthen the PBGC."


While 55 percent believe that the quality of financial reporting has improved since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, more than three-quarters (76 percent) said that there is still a need for greater transparency in financial reporting.

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