Complying with SOX Can Still Be a Challenge, Study Says

Although the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is in its second decade, SOX continues to pose new challenges for public companies, according to a new study by Protiviti, which states that compliance costs and external audit fees rose last year. For most companies, however, costs are manageable.

Protiviti’s 2013 Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Survey shows:

  • More companies are adjusting their compliance efforts to focus on high-risk processes and walkthroughs.
  • External auditor reliance on these efforts, and on the work of others in general, continues to evolve, due in part to guidance from the PCAOB.
  • More companies are shifting SOX compliance oversight responsibilities away from project management offices (PMOs) to internal audit functions.
  • SOX compliance costs are rising, as are external audit fees. However, for most organizations the cost of SOX compliance remains at a manageable level.
  • Organizations continue to report significant improvements in their internal control structures since SOX Section 404(b) became a requirement.
  • The automation of controls remains an enticing option and perhaps the “final frontier” for achieving significant improvements and efficiencies.

The study says, “Although the SOX Act, in many respects, may seem to be ‘old news,’ SOX compliance programs and processes should remain youthfully agile and ready to change course if public companies are to adhere to the law in an effective and cost-efficient manner.”