February 2002

Financially Correct

Produced and distributed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board

$15 (includes shipping & handling); 45-minute VHS videotape; available from www.fasb.org or (800) 748-0659

Financially Correct is a video program produced last year by FASB to help educate the public about why high-quality financial reporting is important to investors and the financial markets.

Ben Stein, the well-known entertainer and character actor, hosts the program, most of which takes place on a "Wall Street Week"-type set. Stein talks one-on-one with FASB Chair Edmund L. Jenkins, and interviews and moderates a discussion panel of five investment world luminaries:

During the program, the experts, Stein, and Jenkins discuss the importance of and need for reliable, credible, and comparable financial information and describe how it serves investors and the economy. The participants comment on a variety of subjects, including the following:

The video package includes a brief "instructor's guide" of seven suggested questions for stimulating discussion after viewing the program.

"The FASB views the investor as the 'customer' of financial reporting," said Jenkins on the occasion of the video's release. "Just as corporations are customer-focused, we focus on the investor. This was a driving force behind producing a video that would raise the public's awareness about why high-quality financial reporting is a necessity. Our objective is to make sure that investors have the financial information they need to make well-informed investment decisions. Having credible, comparable and transparent information is essential to that process."

CPA Journal Editor Tom Morris viewed the video with several members of the NYSSCPA SEC Practice Committee to get their reaction.

Committee Chair Helen Bachman said she could see the tape being a useful introduction to the subject for people with little or no background in financial reporting, such as high school and college students, young staff, and interns. At a higher level, she could also see the video having some value to audit committees, stockbrokers, attorneys, and in some public relations settings.

Although committee member Elliot Hendler thought the video was generally well produced, he and other committee members noted the program's frequent use of technical terms without explaining or defining them. In terms of the video's usefulness to CPAs, Hendler noted that at no point did the program discuss CPAs and their role as "referee."

Other committee members echoed Hendler's observations. Several noted that the program is light on information useful to shareholders; anyone interested in educating the public about financial reporting should consider this video's limitations and use it as one part of a larger program.

Editor's note: The CPA Journal is grateful to the following members of the NYSSCPA SEC Practice Committee for participating in the viewing and roundtable discussion of the video: Chair Helen Bachman, Michele Amato, Stephen Antaki, Jeffrey Brinn, Joseph Davi, Edward Halas, Ute Illie, Joseph Kantrowitz, Peter Pirando, Robert Quarte, and Leslie Tepper.

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