There are two truths about corporate compliance: no universal solution exists for all businesses, and everyone wants to know what everyone else is doing. As part of Compliance Week’s effort to better serve the compliance community, we now have a way to address both those points of pressure. 

Starting today, Compliance Week is delighted to offer a new Data Research Division—where we listen to your company’s specific needs for data about audit, compliance, and risk; and then compile a detailed benchmarking report to help you (and your CFO, and your CEO, and your audit committee) make better decisions about the compliance obligations you face.

For example, let’s say you are scheduled to brief your audit committee next month about whether your company is getting its money’s worth from your current external audit firm, or should select a new one. You’ll need to answer several questions for yourself before you even walk into the boardroom:

How much market share does each audit firm have in your industry?

Which firms serve what types of companies (large accelerated filers; pre-IPO; small market capitalization; and so forth)—and above all, serve companies like you?

What’s the average tenure for various audit firms and clients in your industry?

What are the average audit fees that a firm charges? And what are the average fees that a company in your industry typically pays?

Those are just the preliminary questions. Your audit committee might also want to know how well various audit firms have weathered inspections from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and whether failing grades with the PCAOB led to higher audit fees later. You might want to consider asking shareholders to ratify the committee’s choice for audit firm.

You might want to string the answers to all these questions together, to present a complete picture to the audit committee and help it do what it desperately needs to do: make better, smarter, more informed decisions.

That sort of analysis is what our Data Research Division can provide.

The process works like this: you tell our Research Division staff about the questions you’re trying to answer, and the data you need to answer them. We go to our databases of financial, audit, and compliance disclosures; compile an analysis; and send it to you. It’s that simple, and that customized to your specific needs.

Where do we get all this data? Compliance Week has formed a joint venture with Audit Analytics, the premier research firm in this field, which has tracked all manner of public company disclosures for more than a decade. Audit Analytics has emerged as the standard for academics, audit firms, and regulators trying to conduct research or set policy in compliance and audit today. If you want the most comprehensive data, Audit Analytics has it, and Compliance Week is thrilled that we can now bring it to you, tailored to your company’s specific needs.

Clearly the example above of reviewing your audit firm appeals more to chief accounting officers or heads of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance than it does to, say, legal counsel or corporate compliance officers. Rest assured that the range of data we can provide includes plenty of risk areas relevant to those groups, too. For example, you may want to know which disclosure issues keep turning up these days in comment letters from the Securities and Exchange Commission—or did turn up in SEC comment letters from a few years ago, and whether companies on the receiving end of those letters subsequently suffered financial restatements or shareholder litigation. Or whether any of those headaches later resulted in what we’ll politely call a “change in named officers” that left the CFO or CEO’s office suddenly vacant.

Yes, our Data Research Division can conduct that level of analysis too.What excites me most about the Data Research Division isn’t merely the depth of data we can now study; it is the ability to tie multiple circumstances together, to provide precise answers to very specific questions—with comprehensive data, from living, breathing businesses just like yours, underlying all of it. Any compliance or audit professional knows modern Corporate America is awash in too much information; the trick is in finding the right information buried in those piles of data, to provide the context you need to make better decisions and guide your company to better outcomes.

For more information about the Data Services Division, please download our whitepaper explaining the service in more detail, or download our whitepaper that tells more about the types of data and analysis we can provide. And, as always, if you have some specific question or idea about how to put all this information to good use, feel free to email me at