March 1, 2019

The “Nina Flax” Files: Reading Goals

I love that we have a lot of avid readers in our community. Here’s a “Best Books of 2018″ list from Bob Lamm. And when it comes to reading goals, Nina Flax of Mayer Brown has it covered with her latest “list” installment (here’s the last one):

Now that we’re well into the new year, I’m sure we are all making progress on our resolutions. Some of my lofty ideas include watching less mind-numbing TV, increasing my practice of “single-tasking”, actually exercising ever, eating more healthy food, etc. One also includes reading more books for pleasure.

This is actually a hard one for me, because it seems so accomplishable and yet… On the one hand, I love to read books. On the other hand, I read so much for work my eyes are tired. In between the two ends of my reading spectrum thoughts, if I find a book I like, I read and read and read – and will stay awake sometimes all night (literally), which leads to more tired eyes, not wanting to read… I completely appreciate this is a silly problem. And so, I am trying to break through the cycle and focus on reading in a more mindful way, by both picking up AND putting down a book more often. Plus, if I accomplish this goal, by sheer lack of time I will also likely accomplish my watching less mind-numbing TV goal. Yay for my one stone!

So, for my first list of the year, I have created simply a list of non-work books I would like to read in 2019.

    1. Bad Blood
    2. The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After
    3. Here’s Looking at Euclid: From Counting Ants to Games of Chance – An Awe-Inspiring Journey Through the World of Numbers
    4. Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet
    5. Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War
    6. On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry
    7. What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins
    8. Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos
    9. The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914
    10. Tigana
    11. The Sword of Shannara (which will inevitably lead to the other two)
    12. The Queen’s Poisoner (which will inevitably lead to the other five, but not the prequels)

I also have on my list re-reading a few books – Siddhartha, Peony and Animal Farm. I must admit that I purposely wrote this so that I will feel like you all are holding me accountable and I may actually accomplish this goal! To leave you all with a quote from someone I knew as a child, “Each year you should take a long walk, make a new friend and read a good book.” Here’s to 2019 being great.

Audits: Radical Change on the Horizon?

This article from a Harvard Law School Fellow analogizes problems with the “independent auditor” framework to climate change – there are issues that may well bring down the entire system, but we’re lacking a short-term incentive to fix them. Here’s what he identifies as destabilizing trends that audit committees need to watch:

1. Big 4 Breakup – The UK is continuing to discuss a breakup in light of the Enron-like failure of Carillion – and audit chairs may want to watch these developments carefully when they consider whether to retain or replace current auditors. Not surprisingly, auditors are opposed to spinning off non-audit services – but say they’re open to a market share cap. This blog argues that the break-up proposals are impractical.

2. Obsolete Measures – More stakeholders are asking whether boards in general, and audit committees in particular, are accessories to a process that is growing obsolete by looking at wrong or incomplete indicators – e.g. ignoring the value of intangible assets and metrics that measure long-term performance

3. Changes to Reporting – As enhanced audit reports (CAMs) and integrated reporting spread, board audit committees may find value in monitoring how pace-setting companies handle the new disclosure techniques. They may even urge their companies and auditors to run tests to see how they might be adapted. Advantages could come in the form of higher confidence among investors, with the prospect of a lower cost of capital, and better internal management of multiplying risks that fall outside the bounds of conventional accounting standards. See this 5-minute CAQ video on how audit chairs are approaching CAM disclosures…

Our March Eminders is Posted!

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Note from Broc: One last casualty of the shutdown: PLI’s “SEC Spleaks” got moved to April from its traditional February date because they were afraid of a possible second shutdown and they would have no speakers. The ASECA dinner was moved too.

Liz Dunshee