Providing thorough SOX compliance training for your entire finance staff is one strategy for helping to keep compliance costs in check. While this type of training requires an investment of resources, it can help the business to avoid mistakes that can lead to much costlier penalties — and enable your entire finance team to be more effective overall.
It’s been 13 years since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) was passed, ushering in significant changes to the regulation of financial practices and corporate governance and upending the routines of countless finance teams and internal audit departments.
While some organizations are finally hitting their stride with SOX compliance activities, others still struggle. As Protiviti’s 2015 Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Survey report notes, due to the “dynamic nature” of the legislation, many organizations still have much work to do before they achieve adherence to SOX.
Meanwhile, external audit firms are placing more focus on internal control over financial reporting (ICFR), and fees are increasing as a result. According to the Protiviti report, 58 percent of large company respondents said that their organizations spent more than $1 million on SOX compliance in their most recent fiscal year.
A worthwhile investment
SOX compliance training for your team is important not only for helping employees understand the basic requirements of the act, but also the small details that, if overlooked, could potentially have a big impact on the business.
Also, as more companies adopt the 2013 Internal Control – Integrated Framework from the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO), finance leaders should confirm that their teams are knowledgeable about how the SOX compliance process should be aligned with the new framework.
Resources for SOX compliance training
SOX compliance training resources are abundant, so finding the most appropriate options for your staff should require only a minor investment of your time.
Some options to consider include formal in-house training programs, engaging consultants who are SOX compliance experts, or tapping outside resources for education.
For example, the BAI, a financial services association, offers courses led by Certified Regulatory Compliance Managers (CRCMs), who are former regulatory examiners and certified risk management professionals.
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A value-adding exercise
In today’s evolving regulatory environment, managing compliance issues is becoming only more challenging for finance leaders. However, doing what it takes to ensure all of your staff members are up to date with SOX and other critical mandates can translate to real value for the business.
When your staff have strong knowledge of both the basics — and the finer details — of the SOX mandate, they can help your organization to drive continuous improvement of business processes related to financial reporting. According to the 2015 Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Survey report from Protiviti, many companies have reached the point where they are actually starting to generate value from their SOX compliance activities.
A final note: Be sure not to overlook new hires when arranging SOX compliance training. Even if these employees won’t have direct involvement in helping the business meet its SOX compliance requirements, knowledge of the legislation likely will help to inform their work in other ways. SOX compliance training can also prove important for their professional development.
See Protiviti's latest report on its SOX Compliance Survey.