WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) -- together with audit, tax, and advisory firm KPMG LLP -- convened a group of experienced audit committee chairs, shareholder representatives, regulators, policy makers, and other stakeholders to discuss current topics and developments relevant to audit committee responsibilities. This third annual forum -- held on October 18th in Washington, DC -- provided participants the opportunity to engage in frank, informal discussions on audit committee oversight, and to share observations and insights on strengthening transparency and corporate governance generally.
"In today's environment, a strong, qualified audit committee is essential for proper oversight, transparency, and compliance," said Ken Daly, President and CEO of NACD. "Our goal is to work with all parties to understand emerging economic, technical, and regulatory trends and how audit chairs are preparing to meet new challenges and opportunities. We bring together those who serve in boardrooms with regulators and investors, among others, to have a candid and productive dialogue around our shared commitment to good governance. We all leave these sessions with fresh perspective and some new and actionable ideas."
Updates were provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), covering key emerging topics such as conflict minerals, compensation clawbacks, and non-GAAP accounting metrics. Current PCAOB proposals -- including audit firm rotation and enhanced audit reports -- were another topic of interest, with a focus on how audit chairs currently ensure effective audit firm independence. This conversation covered key challenges in creating meaningful communication to investors and the public about the work that auditors and audit committees do, rather than boilerplate documentations. The assembled group also discussed heightened disclosure demands, and how best to improve transparency. FASB noted their Disclosure Framework project may help streamline disclosures and reduce unproductive complexity.
Shareholder representatives reviewed the 2011 proxy season, noting a historically low incidence of shareholder resolutions as well as "no" votes. Anticipated key topics for the 2012 proxy season are compensation and corporate political contributions.
Audit chairs also commented on information technology (IT) and data governance, with the recognition that technology-based developments -- from cloud computing to cyber security to viral social media events -- require greater knowledge and attention just to keep up. To help prepare and educate directors on this topic, NACD committed to providing focused resources and director education on new technologies and technology risks.
"This NACD forum advances our shared goals of good governance, transparency, and financial reporting integrity," said Jim Liddy, Vice Chair of Audit at KPMG. "Through events like this, we can identify opportunities for all parties to be more effective in their respective roles. Communication among these stakeholders is vital, and opportunities like this ensure we have good awareness of each other's respective efforts to serve shareholders and corporations."
The Audit Committee Advisory Council, launched with KPMG in 2009, is one of three such groups that NACD has developed; NACD also convenes advisory councils for the Fortune 250 chairs of the compensation and the nominating and governance committees. The Councils' goals are to:
- Improve communications and build trust between Corporate America and its key stakeholders,
- Be an advocate for the director's voice and the director community, particularly in the public policy arena, and
- Identify ways to take committee and board performance to the "next level."
The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) is the only membership organization delivering the information and insights that corporate board members need to confidently confront complex business challenges and enhance shareowner value. With more than 11,000 members, NACD advances exemplary board leadership. NACD is focused on creating more effective and efficient boards through director-led education and peer forums to share ideas and leading practices based on more than 30 years of primary research. Fostering collaboration among directors and governance stakeholders, NACD is shaping the future of board leadership. To learn more about NACD, visit NACDonline.org. To join, please contact Kelly Dodd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-380-1891.
SOURCE National Association of Corporate Directors