The SOX & Internal Controls Professionals Group released the findings of its “2019 State of the SOX and Internal Controls Market Survey.” The survey, which was conducted in partnership with Workiva (NYSE:WK), measures the costs, execution, challenges and priorities faced by companies that comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).
SOX Survey Key Findings
The number of professionals who use a SOX-specific tool has more than doubled since last year.
- Even though legacy, desktop software is the primary technology tool for 75% of respondents, one-third of SOX professionals now report that they use an additional SOX-specific tool, which has more than doubled since last year’s survey.
Use of advanced technology for SOX compliance has increased.
- The use of data analytics for SOX compliance doubled from last year.
- More than half of survey respondents are considering using continuous controls monitoring (CCM), which automates monitoring and testing of internal controls.
Internal audit’s involvement in SOX and internal controls has expanded.
- Internal audit’s ownership of the SOX and internal controls compliance function has increased.
- One-third of survey respondents report that internal audit spends more than half of its time on SOX processes.
SOX and internal controls compliance costs continue to increase.
- SOX compliance costs rose slightly, and more than half of survey respondents report an increase in external audit fees.
- Additional Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) requirements, the adoption of new accounting standards and the demand for internal controls related to IT and cybersecurity are among the reasons why external audit fees are higher.
Cybersecurity and IT controls are top priorities.
- Cybersecurity and IT controls now lead the list of challenges and priorities identified by survey respondents.
“SOX compliance is a complex process because building, implementing and evaluating internal controls requires collaborating across multiple departments, often involving hundreds of coworkers,” said Hillary Eckert, Vice President of Product Marketing at Workiva. “It’s not surprising to learn that companies want better tools for connected reporting and compliance.”
The Workiva platform gives SOX professionals the ability to connect data from all of their source systems and applications and funnel that information with a full audit trail into trusted reports and regulatory filings. “Our customers are able to automate workflow, improve efficiency, remediate costly control deficiencies and gain better visibility into the status of compliance,” added Eckert.
“SOX professionals often spend too much time just managing their information,” said Ruth E. Nouanesengsy, Manager of Internal Audit at Lancaster Colony Corporation, who is also an advisor to the SOX & Internal Controls Professionals Group. “At Lancaster, when we switched from a manual process to an automated process with the Workiva platform, we reduced the time spent in testing SOX controls by 19 percent over the past 3 years, and we significantly reduced administrative time. Now our external auditors are able to pull our test plan information directly from the Workiva platform.”
“The SOX and internal controls market faces both challenges and opportunities from business process transformation and technology disruption,” added Nouanesengsy. “The SOX professionals who meet these challenges will create new opportunities for efficiency, speed and accuracy—and, most of all, improve their value across their organizations.”