Incentive Compensation – The Next Options Backdating

What do Home Depot, Computer Associates (CA) and the Diocese of Rockville Center, NY have in common? Strangely enough, they all have a connection to the ongoing lawsuits to reclaim the $139.5m payment Richard Grasso received in 2003 for his eight years as chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. There are players in common, […]

The Auditors and Options Backdating

Amidst the continuing calls for relaxation of the Sarbanes Oxley rules by the business community, come more instances of corporate executives, corporate counsels and now compensation consultants being investigated regarding improper backdating of stock option grants. On both of these topics, the audit firms have been mostly silent. That’s because they are between a rock […]

Watching the Watchers – A Timeline

Before his appointment as Comptroller General of the United States, the head of the General Accounting Office, David M. Walker had extensive executive level experience in both government and private industry. Between 1989 and 1998, Mr. Walker worked at Arthur Andersen LLP, where he was a partner and global managing director of the human capital […]

Hired Guns?

In today’s blog entry on David Maister’s site, he discusses the issue of consultants as “hired guns”. Is there any way for a large firm to maintain ethical standards, as a firm and as a group of individuals? Whose ethical standards should they uphold? Are individuals who would otherwise be ethical or at least true […]

Auditor Independence and Management Consulting – Deja Vu All Over Again

To introduce this topic, let’s start with excerpts from a Frontline series, dated June 2002, Bigger Than Enron. In the segment entitled Congress and the Accounting Wars, the history and politics of independence legislation supported strongly by then SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt and eventually incorporated in the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation of 2002 is described. At the […]

Pointing Fingers

It used to be that the accounting firms and their partners stuck together. In fact the, only crack anyone ever saw was the almost universal animosity for Arthur Andersen. Ask anyone at one of the other firms if they were sorry AA was torpedoed. Not! In the era of government regulation by the PCAOB, which […]

Jack Welch and GE

On October 28, 2005, The Financial Times carried an interview with Jack Welch, by Sathnam Sanghera. I wrote him a letter to comment on it. It’s reprinted below. October 30, 2005 Dear Mr. Sanghera, Thank you very much for maintaining a cynical tone during your feature on Mr. Welch and the new Mrs. Welch. In […]

Why Internal Audit Must Improve

The U.S. government, through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) now formally recognizes the benefits to shareholders and the general public of an internal audit function for listed companies. The NYSE listing requirements state: “Every listed company must have an internal audit function.” Today there are close […]