You know that feeling. A letter sitting on your desk. Return address, 100 F Street, NE Washington, DC 20549. Your heart sinks to your stomach. You open it slowly. Yup, there it is. An SEC comment letter.
What’s the best way to handle this bit of assumingly unwanted news? According to Steven Jacobs, an associate chief accountant with the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, you should engage the SEC in dialogue to determine exactly what they are looking for rather than rushing to restate your financial results. At a conference sponsored by the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, Jacobs said that picking up the phone makes it easier to “assure that the issuer’s response addresses the staff’s concerns.”
For other great tips for dealing with the SEC, check out CFO.com’s recap of Jacob’s speech. Sarbanes-Oxley calls for an SEC review of the financial filings of publicly traded companies at least once every three years. Last year, the SEC reviewed the filings of nearly 5,000 issuers, up from the prior two years. It’s bound to happen sooner or later, so be prepared and don’t be afraid to talk to your friendly neighborhood SEC officer. It might be easier than you think.
– Laurie Berman, email@example.com