At the first Accountancy Lyceum presentation of the fall 2005 semester, University of Illinois alumnus Gregory Wilson discussed the importance of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) in the modern business world. Wilson is deputy director for inspections for the private-sector, non-profit corporation that was created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
"The PCAOB was created to help restore public confidence in accounting firms," he told the undergraduate students in his September talk.
The PCAOB has numerous responsibilities, but among the most important is the inspection of accounting firms conducting public company audits. The board, which reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has standards-setting, registration, inspection, investigation, and enforcement responsibilities. The operations of the board are funded by a levy on public companies based on their market capitalization. Wilson explained that the duties of PCAOB staff include enforcing laws, reviewing policies and procedures, and taking disciplinary action when necessary.
Gregory Wilson graduated from UIUC with a bachelor's in accountancy and has worked as an audit partner for Ernst & Young. After his retirement in 2003, he was asked to join the PCAOB as head of the Chicago regional office. The Chicago office is primarily responsible for the inspection of small registered accounting firms located throughout the Midwest. Staff also support the inspections of large registered accounting firms.
"Firms may become reckless without enough internal control," he noted. "We make sure that they're following the rules." In the future, he hopes to improve inspection techniques as well as break down international barriers in an increasingly global economy.
When asked why this issue was important to students, Wilson explained how the constantly changing business climate makes it important to "keep students on track, to [help them] understand what's going on in auditing."
He appreciate the Department of Accountancy's "continued emphasis on ethics," saying that it helps prepare students to make the right decisions.
--Yuanlei Lane Song