The major purpose of the act is to safeguard the investors from improving financial accountability. Further, the act consists of 11 titles, under which there are various provisions listed relating to transparency, fraud reduction, penalties, etc. These titles are as follows:
Title 1 forms an independent board known as Pubic Company Accounting Oversight Board. The board monitors the accounting firms and creates procedures for compliance audits and other related activities.
Title 2 mentions the standards which the external auditors must meet to avoid any interest conflict.
Title 3 mentions the responsibility of the executives of a public company for maintaining accurate finance reports. It also specifies the activities that are prohibited from being done in the company.
Title 4 specifies the reporting requirements and quality controls concerning the financial reports.
Title 5 talks about the Code of Conduct for securities analysts.
Title 6 mentions the powers of the Securities Exchange Commission and about acts that constitute an offense.
Title 7 specifies studies to be performed by the Securities Exchange Commission.
Title 8 mentions penalties for violations committed concerning financial reporting.
Title 9 enhances the punishments for the commission of white-collar crimes and violation of Title 3.
Title 10 mentions that the CEO (any) of the public company must sign the company’s tax returns.
Title 11 mentions corporate fraud being a criminal act and about the punishments to it.
On whom the Act Applies and its Compliance Requirements
The legislation primarily affects publicly traded corporations in the U.S and publicly traded enterprises operating in the U.S. Further, few parts of the act apply to the private companies, too, as the private companies also face adverse effects on destroying the financial records to obstruct any investigation. Companies should have proper controls to maintain finances’ accuracy, legality, and reporting about a few compliance requirements. The companies should do total verification of the reports. After this, the reports must be submitted to independent third-party auditors for evaluations. Adhering to the compliance requirements is an extensive task for a company. Following is a basic checklist for compliance:
As per Section 302 of the Act, the signing officers, that is, the CEO and CFO, must certify about implementation and evaluation of all internal controls surrounding financial reporting.
According to Section 404 of the Act, external auditors must determine the efficiency of the company’s internal systems based on the reports presented. Further, cyber security must be given prime importance.
Benefits of Compliance of SOX Act and Challenges
A few of such benefits are listed as follows:
It improves corporate governance by regulating the auditing committees.
Executives become more accountable and protect the investors.
Auditor independence gets enhanced.
Several financial restatements keep declining year after year after SOX compliance.
Further, there are few challenges too that are attached to the SOX compliance, such as:
It is a costly process.
Keeping up with the updated computer technologies and new enhanced software can be a challenge for companies.
Compliance costs become higher due to separate auditing drills. Due to this, smaller firms become prone to penalties if they fail to comply properly. This, in turn, makes the big firms even bigger.
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