The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) hosted the 2020 AICPA Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments this past week at which a number of SEC accountants participated, either delivering speeches or contributing to panel discussions.
Sagar Teotia, the SEC’s Chief Accountant gave remarks reflecting on the past year, and commenting on the priorities of the Office of the Chief Accountant (OCA) for next year. The speech provides a helpful overview of the role of OCA within the SEC as well as recent actions OCA has taken to assist market participants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief Accountant Teotia’s remarks serve as a reminder of the importance of high-quality financial reporting and the critical role of a company’s audit committee, especially during times of uncertainty in our capital markets. He also reminded companies that in fulfilling their financial reporting responsibilities, they are required to make significant judgments and estimates to address accounting and financial reporting matters, and these can be made increasingly more challenging in this pandemic environment. The OCA staff, he reiterated, echoing earlier such statements, will not object to well-reasoned judgments. Also, he noted that companies should ensure these judgments and estimates are disclosed in a way that is understandable and useful to investors.
In addition to summarizing his office’s efforts this past year, Chief Accountant Teotia identified the following activities that OCA will continue to prioritize in the new year:
- Engagement with stakeholders
- Oversight of the FASB
- Oversight of the PCAOB
- International accounting, audit, and disclosure matters
In addition to the SEC Chief Accountant’s speech, several Professional Accounting Fellows in OCA also posted their speeches to the SEC website. These speeches discuss OCA staff observations on specific accounting topics and fact patterns, including principal versus agent guidance and the expected discontinuation of LIBOR. These publicly available remarks provide helpful insight into OCA’s thinking on a variety of subjects.