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Accountants Want More Accountability

Up Front


Accountants, who have been zapped by megabuck judgments after S&Ls and other healthy-seeming clients collapsed, are pushing to make financial statements disclose more info. To the dismay of Corporate America, a blue-ribbon committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is about to call for breaking out more detailed financial results of a company's divisions. Most corporations prefer to glom them together. That way, shareholders don't know when strong units support management-favored weak ones.

Other disclosure proposals from the accountants include discussing fully the risks of such exotic financial instruments as derivatives and off-balance-sheet financial arrangements. One novel idea: Produce a separate fourth-quarter report instead of lumping the numbers in with the annual report's results.

The organization's thinking carries weight with the rulemaking Financial Accounting Standards Board and the SEC. But a panel of the Financial Executives Institute says there are more than enough data out there.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT AND JULIE TILSNER By Michael Schroeder

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