CHAIRMAN LEVITT: I’d like to welcome everyone this morning to the first public hearing on the Commission’s proposals to modernize the rules that govern auditor independence.
Product line expansion, firm consolidation and structural reorganizations amidst an intensely competitive environment have very real ramifications for the independence of the public accounting profession.
Some say that the time is now for reasonable action. Others say no steps whatsoever are needed or even warranted. Whatever the views expressed I earnestly hope we will all see the value, at the very least, in having a fully informed and constructive public dialogue on an issue that is so central to the health of our financial markets. Timely, open and civil discussion can only advance the public interest.
There is an honest disagreement whether recent developments in the accounting profession merit, warrant modernizing the rules, but given what’s ultimately at stake, the confidence of America’s and the world’s investors, surely we can come together in good faith and argue this rule proposal on its merits. […]