SOX Compliance Amid a New Business Equilibrium

SOX Compliance Amid a New Business Equilibrium
2020 Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Survey

SOX costs, hours, controls and other trends in the results of Protiviti’s 2020 Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Survey.

The world has changed. But SOX work goes on. 

Organizations required to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act no doubt are experiencing this sentiment firsthand in recent weeks. The COVID-19 global pandemic has caused seismic shifts in companies of all sizes. The impact worldwide has been well-documented and will continue to evolve not only for the remainder of 2020, but certainly in the years to come as organizations transition to the new equilibrium. 

We conducted this year’s Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Survey in the first quarter of 2020, before the full scope and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was realized. However, since the results largely reflect SOX programmes and work performed in fiscal year 2019, the findings remain highly relevant. In addition, trends we’ve identified with regard to the use of automation and technology tools are illuminated even further in this crisis, with offices worldwide closed and a massive percentage of the workforce — likely more than at any time in history — is working remotely. 

These are unprecedented times. But CAEs and internal audit and SOX leaders are well-aware that their obligations to perform internal controls reviews and testing continue. And as we learned from our survey, challenges endure with regard to managing costs and time, as well as leveraging automation and technology tools to achieve long-term savings and efficiencies.

The Protiviti report is based on a survey of more than 700 audit, compliance and finance leaders and professionals at U.S. public companies, representing a wide range of industries. The survey was conducted with support from AuditBoard, a leading cloud-based audit, risk and compliance software company, during the first quarter of 2020, based on the fiscal year 2019.


Key Findings:

  1. Costs continue to rise — This has been a long-term trend in our study, reflected in both internal SOX compliance costs and related external auditor fees. 
  2. Hours are increasing — Commensurate with costs, SOX compliance-related hours are on the rise, as well.
  3. It’s time to embrace automation — Automated processes and controls, along with utilization of technology tools to test controls, can create long-term efficiency, increased accuracy, and measurable time and cost savings.


2020 SOX Survey Infographic


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