Three years after the spate of scandals that led to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the accounting profession's reputation has bounced back in a big way, an American Institute of CPAs executive told Council members here.
According to new research commissioned by the AICPA, CPAs garnered high marks in a recent survey of business decision-makers, C-suite executives and investors aimed at tracking attitudes toward the profession since 2003, senior vice president of public affairs James O'Malley told AICPA Council members at the Spring meeting on Sunday.
The poll by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates surveyed 420 general business decision-makers, 110 C-suite executives and 506 investors. Ninety-seven percent of business decision-makers, 95 percent of executives and 89 percent of investors rated their attitude toward the CPA profession as favorable, according to the results of the March 2005 survey.
When asked whether CPAs and the accounting profession have taken steps to fix the problems that led to past accounting scandals, 80 percent of business decision-makers and 70 percent of executives said yes, while 52 percent of investors said yes to that question.
The majority of all three groups see CPAs as part of the solution to fighting or preventing fraud (86 percent for business decision-makers, 75 percent of executives and 78 percent of investors). When asked about the role that CPAs should have in preventing fraud, 67 percent of investors said that CPAs should be required to actively search for and report fraud when they encounter it, while 28 percent said that they should be required to report it, but shouldn't be required to actively search for fraud, and 5 percent said that CPAs shouldn't have to report or search for fraud.
Meanwhile, 99 percent of C-suite executives surveyed said that they're familiar with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, compared with 66 percent of general business decision-makers and just 28 percent of investors.
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