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A Simpler Way to Set Standards

Melissa Klein Aguilar | September 25, 2007

The creation of a high-profile committee to examine ways to simplify the rules for financial reporting could breathe new life into a related debate: how to simplify the creation of those rules in the first place.

Amid much fanfare, the Securities and Exchange Commission appointed a new Committee to Improve Financial Reporting in June. Its mandate is to study the causes of complexity, and recommend “how to make financial reports clearer and more beneficial to investors, reduce costs and unnecessary burdens for preparers, and better utilize advances in technology to enhance all aspects of financial reporting,” according to SEC statements.

One topic the advisory committee plans to tackle is the maze of rules and guidance issued by regulators, rulemakers, and industry groups, intended to help companies understand financial reporting but just as often leaving them confused. Robert Pozen, head of MFS Investment Management and chairman...

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