If you thought Sarbanes-Oxleyshook up the corporate world, wait until you get a load of Dodd-Frank. When Corporate America comes back from summer vacation, it will find that the extensive disclosure and transparency requirements it has been grappling with for the last eight years just got a tough big brother.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Actchanges the balance of power between shareholders and corporations. It changes the roles and responsibilities of corporate executives, changes the way corporations find and appoint directors, and will have to change the way everyone communicates about all those things.
Be Careful What You Wish For
The opening of the 21st century is certain to be remembered as the decade we woke up to risk. Terrible things happened, and we want to stop them from happening again. The 9/11 attacks opened our eyes to a new kind of geo-political risk. The devastating collapse of Enron and Arthur Andersen exposed a new magnitude of corporate risk.
Washington responded with Sarbanes-Oxley, giving rise to the chief financial officer as a new power broker, and giving accountants, if not exactly greater cachet then at least a leg up on the corporate ladder. Optimists hoped SOX-level scrutiny wasn’t the new normal; that the pendulum would swing back to a simpler time. But SOX didn’t prevent an even greater financial crisis that nearly brought down entire economic systems.