Frederick G. Beisser
796 Tioga Trail
Parker, CO 80138
Telephone: 303 841-0942
May 18, 2002
Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary
Securities and Exchange Commission
450 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20549
Dear Mr. Katz;
This letter provides comments related to File No. S7-08-02 regarding the proposed acceleration of reporting dates and proposed rules requiring certain companies to concurrently post filings made with the Commission on their websites.
I am providing these comments as an individual who has had the responsibility of Principal Financial Accounting Officer for a reporting company for over ten years.
It is my opinion that reporting companies should use every tool available to make clear and accurate information available to the investing community, whether institutional or individual investors. Complete disclosure delivered in an understandable way in public filings has to be the standard.
Accordingly, I fully support the part of the proposal requiring companies to disclose where investors can obtain timely access to their periodic reports, whether they provide website access to these reports, and, if not, why not. I strongly agree that for the financial markets to function most efficiently, they must have access to information that is clear, accurate, and timely and the world wide web should certainly be a part of that.
My primary concern, however, is that achieving the full understanding of underlying transactions in a compressed timeframe to succinctly and clearly describe the historical results and the expected results will become problematic with one-third less time to research answers. As I am sure you are aware, many report writing activities are removed from the transactions as they are happening and they therefore need to retrieve underlying information in order to properly describe them for investors.
Another concern is related to the effect on certifying accountants and their ability to service all clients in a compressed timeframe. Since the company I work for would fall into the exception category and not have accelerated reporting imposed upon it, I believe we would feel the impact as slippage of fieldwork scheduling by our auditors as they attempt to balance large and small clients. I would also foresee increased use of temporary or intermittent staff as a potential solution to the scheduling and have a concern about a possible decline in audit quality.
In view of the above, it is obvious that I have serious concerns about the main thrust of the proposal that would accelerate the filing due dates of Forms 10-K and 10-Q. Recent events have certainly undermined the credibility of the entire financial reporting process. As a result, greater and more transparent disclosures have been proposed by the SEC and increased auditing procedures are likely to be mandated by the accounting profession. I also note that audit committees are re-evaluating the nature and extent of their critical oversight role. These actions will require additional time to prepare filings and to audit or review financial statements. I am deeply concerned that the gains in timeliness produced by accelerating the due dates would be far exceeded by the potentially reduced reliability of these reports, since the condensed filing process will certainly create time pressures, resulting in errors and in less accurate disclosures in connection with the filings.
The focus of attention in the news media and investing community during this post-Enron era has rightfully been on whether investors can trust the numbers, not whether the numbers can be issued earlier. Accordingly, I do not believe this is not the right time to create new rules that could sacrifice reliability for incremental timeliness.
Frederick G. Beisser