INVESTORS OPPOSE SOX REFORMTwo thirds of investors would be concerned about any easing of Sarbanes-Oxley rules, according to a national survey by the Center for Audit Quality, released in conjunction with the five-year anniversary of the legislation.

The organization, which is affiliated with the American Institute of CPAs, took a poll of 1,000 investors around the country to find out how they felt about recent efforts to relax some of the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was passed in the wake of accounting scandals at Enron, WorldCom and other high-profile companies.

Sixty-two percent of investors polled by the CAQ believe that the rules mandated by Sarbanes-Oxley should be left in place. Seventy-nine percent said that the changes brought about by SOX bolstered their confidence in the financial information provided by public companies. The same proportion agreed that the SOX requirement to establish independent audit committees has been effective.

Seventy-six percent saw a positive impact from external auditors reporting to independent board-based audit committees. The same proportion said that involvement by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has been effective. Again, 76 percent believe that the requirement for companies to evaluate and disclose their internal controls and for external auditors to attest to such disclosures has been positive. And 74 percent said that certification of financial reports by CEOs and CFOs has had a positive effect.

NAPFA URGING 401(K) TRANSPARENCY

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor that spells out seven specific additions and modifications that it feels the Employee Benefits Security Administration must implement. Each recommendation revolves around disclosure and ensuring that 401(k) participants are informed about fees, expenses and conflicts of interest. NAPFA said that it wants greater transparency of such fees and expenses in these plans.

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