So far, the internet hasn't done a whole lot to change the financial industry, outside of a few consumer-facing services like online banking and trading. Many of the old institutions remain in place. Earlier this week, there was some noise about the SEC letting companies post material information on blogs, but on inspection, it really didn't seem like that big of a deal. A potentially more important announcement came yesterday, when a a group of the major accounting firms declared that the existing system for reporting financial results was antiquated. They called for more reporting in real-time, and in a form that's more easily accessible than the SEC's typically labyrinthine documents. Of course, they were pretty light on specifics, as it's really not clear how companies would go about reporting financial data in real time. Nor is it necessarily a good idea, even if it were possible. Companies need time to digest information, and then present it in a clear way. And already, there's a lot of concern that being scrutinized on a quarterly basis leads to short-term thinking. The goal should be to develop reporting methods that are more transparent and easily understandable, and on this point, the major accounting firms are in a good position to take the lead.
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