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What AS 5 Means for SMBs

Lora Bentley

This month's issue of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel features an interesting Q&A with Amper, Politziner and Mattia's Lee Smith, discussing how the Public Company Accounting Board's new standard, AS 5, benefits small business. If you're among those trying to determine how AS 5 affects your business, it's definitely worth a read. Here's a snippet:

[W]hat AS5 does is really two things. It takes away from the external auditor the audit responsibilities of opining on management's process of internal control evaluation. Instead, what the external auditor has to do now is opine on management's disclosure as to the effectiveness of those internal controls. Additionally, the company is urged to use a top-down risk-based approach - for understanding the overall risks in a company, how the company itself manages those risks. What that has done is provide the company with the ability to structure and streamline internal controls on a relative basis. ...

The Securities and Exchange Commission adopted AS 5 in July in an effort to "refocus resources on the integrity of financial statements." As Symantec's David Smith recently explained in an IT Business Edge interview:

[O]ne of the things that's really changing in terms of implementation is they're trying to get everybody away from the clipboard audit... So instead of coming in with a checklist and, "Here are the top 10 things you need to do to manage your financial systems," while there are certainly common elements that you want to maintain and basic requirements you need to meet to certify a financial statement, let's look more at the business process level. The changes are going to mean that there's a bigger concentration on understanding how transaction flow happens throughout the organization.

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