Stress Management

Paul Bishop just felt plain tired.  He’d had a tough year in his job and he was really finding it difficult to keep motivated.  To cap it all he had started to make stupid mistakes at work, forgetting to check things and he always seemed to be rushing to meet deadlines.  His job satisfaction had disappeared; work had become a real burden and the constant changes in management structure left him feeling paranoid about being edged out of the company.

The symptoms that Paul was feeling are pretty well understood these days. Continual change is a feature of modern business and, although this can stimulate more interest and better productivity in some employees, it can have the opposite effect others, like Paul, making them highly stressed.

What may start as minor stress can escalate into medical problems; digestive disorders, allergies, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.  Mental disorders such as depression, phobias obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and paranoia can also result from a stressful lifestyle.

Now, more than ever, it is essential to adopt sensible stress avoidance and stress management strategies. In the UK alone it is estimated that 245,000 people became aware of symptoms of work related stress in a 12 month period resulting in 12.8 million lost working days.

There is a fine balance to be drawn, however, as we also rely on the stress from competition, deadlines, negotiations, frustrations and sorrows to add texture to our lives. Each person has an individual and sometimes very different threshold beyond which stress begins to have a negative effect on their well-being.

There are some findings that disease and illness are closely allied with unrelieved stress.  Just being aware of stress is not sufficient to eradicate it, more work is necessary to identify the causes and either change the environment in which stress occurs or change our response to the stressful environment.

A useful model to consider is one where you can divide the stimuli in your environment into three categories.

Category 1 – Things I can change

Category 2 – Things I can’t change but I can influence

Category 3 – The weather

Categories 1 and 2 are pretty self-explanatory.  For example you can decide to change your job or perhaps your boss needs to requisition a new computer for you.

The weather accounts for everything else outside Categories 1 and 2.  It’s called the weather because just like when it rains, you can’t do much about it other than work around it.   It doesn’t matter how much you worry about rain it won’t stop just for you.

When Paul used the three categories he realized that he needed to ask for help to give him more time to check his work and also to question deadlines he was given rather than accept them as gospel.  The organizational changes that were happening around him were just the weather and if he navigated himself through the weather successfully, he would avoid being surplus to requirements.

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Coping with Jet Lag

What is Jet Lag? Crossing time zones disrupts the body clock which regulates sleep, wakefulness and our productivity in general; this leads to irritability, fatigue, insomnia, poor concentration, loss of appetite, and other discomforts.

Can Jet Lag be prevented? A number of strategies have been developed to prevent jet lag but the general consensus is like motion sickness, there are certain people who are more predisposed to jet lag than others.  Jet lag, like colds, cannot really be prevented but measures can be adapted to minimize the length of its effects.

The Rx Way

  • No-Jet-Lag, as its literature claims, is “a safe and effective remedy for countering jet lag, in the form of easy-to-take tablets. Its effectiveness has been proven in a scientific trial of round-the-world passengers and confirmed by long haul flight attendants in a test conducted in cooperation with their union.” It also claims to be compatible with all kinds of medication and to have no side-effects. Always consult your doctor before trying out any new medication, even if it is an over the counter drug.
  • Melatonin manipulates a certain hormone in your body; it is administered days before you travel. However, research has shown if it is taken within too early or too late before the date of travel, it makes  jet lag worse.

The Anti-Jet Lag Diet Way. The Anti-Jet-Lag Diet was developed by Dr. Charles F. Ehret of Argonne National Laboratories; he prescribes alternates days of feasting and fasting starting four days before your date of departure:

  • Feasting includes high-protein breakfasts and lunches, high-carbohydrate dinners;
  • Fasting includes days of small, low-calorie meals.

The Cliché Way

  • Exercise regularly to build stamina;
  • Eat healthy foods, like green leafy vegetables and fruits;
  • Chew gum to alleviate pressure build-up in your ears;
  • A good night’s sleep; with naps during long flights;
  • Avoid unnecessary stress; pay your bills, finish your work and do not get hung over before you travel;
  • Drink plenty of fluids during the flight, but avoid alcoholic beverages and too much caffeine;
  • Take advantage of airline sleeping aids such as blindfolds, ear plugs and neck pillows to catch a power nap;
  • If it is possible to stand during the flight, stand up, stretch and walk a little;
  • Wear comfortable clothes;
  • Shower before you leave to refresh your senses;
  • Set your watch to the time of your destination before you board the plane;
  • Eat meals at times that are as close as possible to the meal times of your destination;
  • Bring an interesting book or magazine;
  • If the person sitting next to you seems friendly, engage in small talk and make a new friend;
  • East vs. West. Some people believe that flying east or westward causes jet lag; scientists argue that such claims are more a question of personal preference and do not have any scientific basis;
  • Night vs. day flights. Another question of personal preference; and finally,
  • Have fun!
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You Know You are a Tourist When…

There shouldn’t be any shame in being a tourist; after all you help the city or the country’s economy, you have sufficient disposable income to allocate for travel and leisure, and broadening one’s horizons is never supposed to hurt anyone. Unfortunately there is a stigma attached to being a tourist; as much as the locals would like to be hospitable to tourists, their buttons are pushed by a variety of reasons – inappropriate clothing, too friendly, too rude, a traffic hazard and then there’s the issue of hygiene.

Most travelers would advice that there are significant disadvantages in easily being singled out as a tourist:

  • Tourists are more likely to be conned or mugged;
  • Tourists are more likely to be charged more for cab fare and certain commercial establishments; and
  • Tourists are easy targets for pranks, harmless and otherwise, since they do not understand the local language.

Here is a list of things that reveal whether or not you can easily be spotted by locals as a tourist; are you ready to find out if you are the typical tourist?

You Know You’re a Tourist When…

  • You wear bright colored shirts or shirts that scream “I love whatever city I am in right now”
  • You wear a baseball cap or hat that screams “I love whatever city I am in right now”
  • You insist on wearing tropical, animal, safari, large polka dots, aquarium printed tops with knee-length shorts, flip-flops and a hat
  • You have a fanny pack slung around you’re hips
  • You say ooh, ah and wow at old buildings, churches and old statues
  • You think it’s ok to jaywalk
  • You walk around with your nose buried in map or guidebook
  • Your neck is craning in unnatural angles trying to read street signs
  • You are lugging around one too many luggage; helplessly flailing your arms for a cab in an area where cabs can’t pick up passengers
  • You stop at every glass window shop to marvel at chocolate sculptures and éclairs
  • You only have 3 kinds of footwear: flip-flops, sandals and sneakers
  • You stop to take a picture of anything
  • You stop a stranger to take a picture of you with anything and anyone
  • You bump into someone in a crowded place with a dazed expression in your face and realize you’re wallet has been stolen
  • You bump into someone in a crowded place with a deer-in-the-headlights look and automatically check your pockets to see if anything is missing
  • You are taken aback that there is no tissue in the tissue dispenser of public toilets
  • You carry a backpack stuffed with Gatorade, mineral water, and crumpled sheets of what looks like a map wearing cargo anything and shades in the middle of the city
  • You carry too much change
  • You don’t have change or local currency
  • You only know how to say “Thank you”, “How much”, “Yes”, and “No” in the local language
  • You walk around with big groups
  • You travel around the city in a bus with a group
  • You walk around with your entire family, right to the nth cousins
  • You go to a city or country for the first time during tourist season
  • The first thing you look for is a McDonald’s
  • Another first thing you look for is Coke

If you found yourself nodding your head more often than not, then congratulations! You are the typical tourist! Embrace it, say it with me – Yes I am a typical tourist! Now we can start your therapy to de-touristify you.

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The 5 Commandments of Packing

Proper packing can make or break a great vacation. Packing is usually considered of lesser importance than hotel or airline reservations and is left to the last minute. What most people do not realize is that going on a vacation without properly packing is like going to war without the necessary gear; you may have the gun but you did not bring any ammo.

  1. The Perfect Luggage. The perfect luggage should have retractable rollers; the rollers help you move your heavy luggage around without asking for assistance from strangers or airport personnel, while the retractable feature gives you the option to bring out the rollers only when you need it.The luggage should also have a built-in lock to safeguard its contents; if a built-in lock is not available, ordinary locks can also be used as long as it is not too big.

    Straps, removable or otherwise, are ideal only for carry-on luggage; they make it easier for you to carry your them around but make sure it is tucked properly whenever your bag goes through the conveyor belts to prevent any unfortunate incident of your bag getting stuck  and being damaged in the process.

  2. Divide and Rule. You should always have at least 2 sets luggage, your main or checked luggage and your carry-on luggage.  Your checked luggage should contain the bulkier items such as clothes, shoes, portable dryer and so on. Your carry-on luggage should contain your more valuable items such as jewelry, electronic gadgets, money, travel documents, and identification cards; not only will your valuable items be safer, they will be more accessible should you need them.
  3. Health is Wealth. Always bring a first aid kit, especially if you’re going to an exotic destination. You never know if know if you’re going to need an anti-histamine to combat an allergic reaction from eating seafood, or if you’re favorite anti-migraine brand is even imported in the country you’re visiting in.Place you’re first-aid kit in your carry-on luggage for better access; it will also be easier to monitor the condition of temperature sensitive medication like insulin.

    To prevent suspicion and unnecessary interrogation with immigration security, bring your medication in its original packaging; and if you are carrying prescribed drugs, bring your prescription with you as well.

  4. Liquid Dreams. If you must bring your favorite shampoo, body oil or other liquid items with you when you travel, wrap them in a plastic bag first before placing them in your luggage to protect your dry items.  Avoid bringing liquids packaged in glass, repack them in plastic containers. For certain items that cannot be repacked such as perfume, place them in your carry-on luggage.Check the amount of the liquid, it should not be more than ¾ of its container; the ¼ serves as an allowance in case the luggage is crushed or there is drastic temperature change.
  5. Kodak Moments. Airport x-rays can ruin camera film so it is more practical to buy your film when you arrive in your area of destination, after you’re luggage has been x-rayed; and it is more practical to have it developed before you leave, to prevent the used film from being ruined by airport security. If you do not have one yet, get a digital camera. Digital cameras are less bulky than conventional cameras; they neither need film nor do the images have to be developed right away. Instead of film, you will need a media card which is smaller and easier to carry; once your media card is filled up you can have your pictures developed, have the images burned onto a cdr or upload it on the internet.
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Great Expectations from Solo Travel

Solo travel, as the name implies, is embarking on an adventure in the truest sense of the word; leaving behind your usual safety crutches – friends, an itinerary, and traveling confined to the weekends or filed leaves.

Solo traveling is not solitary confinement; it just means that you start your travel adventures by yourself and you make friends as you go along the way. It actually makes it easier for you to meet new people; without the usual group of friends surrounding you, locals and other travelers find it easier to approach and start a conversation with you.

The Benefits of Solo Travel

1. Your senses are heightened because there are no distractions, intensifying the traveling experience;

2. Traveling solo lessens the impact of your presence on your immediate environment; locals are more at ease going about their daily routine and you get a more genuine feel of their culture and way of life;

3. Going solo means all the decisions are made by only one person; you can act on your impulse to sample the exotic local cuisine or learn the traditional dances without second thoughts or having to compromise with anyone;

4. The locals and other travelers have an easier time approaching you when you are alone;

5. Solo travel means greater mobility; no more waiting for a table of a certain number of people before you can be seated since you can always sit at the bar; and we can board buses with only one seat left;

6. Traveling solo helps preserve relationships in a way; traveling with a group tends to strain relationships in certain instances such as who gets to use the bathroom first or who sleeps on the couch, these little things pile up and before you know it, no one is speaking to anyone anymore; and

7. Solo travel allows you to get in touch with your inner self, to mull on the meaning of your life and other philosophical queries you normally cannot indulge in; and

8. Solo travel gives you an opportunity to relax and recharge.

The Challenges of Solo Travel

1. It can get lonely; when we see other travelers with their friends or families our natural reaction is to miss our own friends and family. But we must bear in mind that we did not embark on this journey to strengthen bonds with other people; we are here for ourselves.

2. Safety is perhaps the most crucial issue for solo travelers, most especially for women solo travelers. Travelers are easy targets for undesirables; they are unfamiliar with the territory, they are most likely clueless about the local language and they usually carry around more money that the locals. Always be alert of your surroundings; it’s not like we were born yesterday or that we have never found ourselves in a “bad neighborhood,” always use common sense – do not walk alone in dark or dimly lighted streets, know where the nearest police station is, if you must ask for directions as a person in uniform, and ask other travelers for tips on how to high crime areas.

Solo traveling is not for everyone; the benefits of solo travel seem to be more on the introspective aspect of an individual, realistically its demands seem higher than traveling with a friend or a group of people. But more and more people are embarking on their own solo adventures; why you may ask? I can almost hear a veteran solo traveler replying, “Because it’s worth it.”

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When is an Allowance more than just Pocket Money?

Tom’s pocket money is paid once a month.  Two or three days later it is all gone with only a pile of candy wrappers and plastic components from construction toys scattered across his floor to show for it.

Pocket money used to be just that; enough money for a child to reach into his or her pocket to buy child-sized items when they were on a rare shopping trip. The purchased items would be a few trifles such as single sweets or a cheap plastic toy and the whole point of pocket money was to demonstrate the benefits of delayed gratification and good money management.

These days the toys are becoming so sophisticated and expensive that the delay until gratification could reach into adulthood. Sweets rarely come in small packages any more and the purpose of a one cent coin is lost completely.

Worldwide, the average child is now receiving an allowance of around $5 per week.  Pocket money has been reportedly handed out to those as young as 1 year old and to “children” as old as 32.  Half of them blow the lot on ice-cream, chocolate and other sugar filled delights.  The remainder either buy comics, magazines and computer games or a small proportion, one in five, choose to save their money.

Some families tie the size of the allowance to the completion of household chores, however the experts point out that this also ties the adults into a lifetime of negotiation. Teenagers, especially, will gladly leave their bed unmade and put up with the temporary penalty of a reduced allowance.  It is far better, say the financial gurus, that parents should reward their offspring for good money management.  For example year on year increases in pocket money should be dependent on a good record of prudence during the previous year.

Yet another approach is to guarantee a high level of allowance, say $10 per week, provided a small donation is made to charity, $5 is placed into a savings account and that account is maintained sensibly. Managed withdrawals from the account for planned purchases will maintain the level of the allowance however the penalty for raiding the savings account is effectively to halve the weekly allowance.

The problem with Tom is that he has other sources of income.  Because he is bright, he gets a regular income from bonuses for good school results.  His grandma always doubles whatever his parents give him for an A or B in tests and even when he voluntarily stopped his own allowance for 6 months as a protest against meddlesome adults, he always had cash to spend.

His sister, Suzie, is two years younger, comes from the same gene pool and regularly saves up to $100 before she buys anything at all.  Maybe boys will be boys or perhaps Suzie got the message and Tom didn’t.  We haven’t given up on Tom’s financial education yet, he’ll be trying out the new, improved “non-discretionary purchase allowance supplement” for the next few months.

Categories Allowances, Kids & Money
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Preparing for an Interview

Job interviews are incredibly stressful events, even for the gregarious amongst us. You improve your chances of winning the job if you prepare for each interview as though it were the only one in the world.

Preparing includes several steps:

  • Decide how you will answer common interview questions and write the answers down
  • Develop a strategy for answering unexpected questions or questions you cannot prepare answers for.
  • Write down the answers you will give for inappropriate or questionable questions.
  • Rehearse the interview process from beginning to end, including a couple of “dress rehearsals” with actual companies.
  • Keep a list of companies you have contacted, an up-to-date appointment calendar, and a pencil by the telephone so you have them when the scheduler calls.
  • Create an interview kit to take to every interview. This should include a checklist of what you have to do prior to leaving for the interview.
  • Buy or borrow a business briefcase or portfolio to take to interviews.
  • Check your wardrobe and buy, clean, or repair the clothes you need for interviews. Have your dress shoes repaired and polished professionally. Have at least two interview outfits in case you have to go to more than one interview at a company.
  • Maintain your haircut and manicure so that you can go to any interview on short-notice and look well-groomed.
  • Know what your transportation Plan B is in case your car breaks down when you have an interview or on the way to an interview.
  • Practice shaking hands to perfect the firm, brief business hand-shake.

Answering Common Interview Questions

You do not know what type of interview questions you will be asked until you are asked them. You can, however, anticipate some of the questions that will be asked.

These are questions that professional recruiters use, that are recommended in books and seminars on interviewing, and that researchers have uncovered and that professors teach. You should have an answer to these questions and it should be written down. The process of deciding what your answer is, and writing it down, helps you recall the answer when the question is asked.

Collect as big a list as possible of possible interview questions. Sort them by type, if you like, and categorize them into subject areas to make them more manageable. This is the kind of activity you need to do on a computer. If you use a word processor, put each question on its own page, with the question type and category at the top of the page.

No question should take more than a couple of minutes to answer. Some very broad questions, such as “where do you see yourself in five years” should be answered very succinctly, while a question about how you approached a specific problem in the workplace may require a bit more time to answer well.

It may take several drafts to get your answers clearly focused and well-stated. Read reach draft loud to make sure the flow and tone are conversational. When you are happy with the answer, read it aloud to someone who will give you constructive feedback. Use as many of your anticipated answers in practice interviews as you can.

Find the questions

There are a number of college career services that have developed lists of common interview questions for their student clients. Several of these lists are posted on the Web. There are also lists on some job boards and on several career guidance sites.

University of Waterloo: Common questions and a discussion of how to handle questions designed to discern how you behave in work situations.

Job Search: This channel on The About Network has several lists of questions. Although the Job Search Technical channel is aimed at technical workers, it is a good place to find these lists. Start at

You can download a Word document with questions and sample answers at

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee: The Common Interview Questions at has a section from recent graduates with questions about your college experience.

iVillage Job Resource Center: Fifty questions are group by subject area with help in practicing your responses.,10109,196965_192749,00.html

TrueCareers: There is a nice list of questions at

Answering the Big Three Questions

The ubiquitous traditional questions should not be ignored in your preparation. Interviewers ask them because your response provides them with important clues. In the list below, Carol Martin an interviewing expert with a long career in human resources management, shares this advice:

  • Can you tell me about yourself?” “Your answer to this question sets the tone for the rest of the interview. Focus is the key — avoid a rambling answer,” says Martin “What do you want the interviewer to remember most about you? List five strengths you have that are pertinent to this job — experiences, traits, skills, etc.
  • What are your long-term goals? “If you’re an organized type of person, answering this question may be a piece of cake,” says Martin. “No one can tell you exactly how to answer this question – it will come from what is important to you. However, the more focused and employer-centered you are about your goal, the better your chances of steering the interview in the right direction.
  • Why should we hire you? “Develop a sales statement. The more detail you give, the better. This is not a time to talk about what you want. It is a time to summarize your accomplishments and relate what makes you unique,” advises Martin. “Like snowflakes, no two people are alike. Take some time to think about what sets you apart from others.”
Categories Careers, Interviewing
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Get Your Resume into the Right Pile

Everyone who looks for a professional or management job has to have a resume. If you are actively networking to find employment, a copy of your resume is with you 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, ready to give to anyone who asks for it or whom you decide might be able to pass it along to someone.

When you respond to classified ads or job listings on a Web site, you are expected to send your resume or to complete a resume form provided by the listing site.

Professional resume writers can help you by reviewing a resume you have written or writing your resume for you. Both options require you to pay a fee.

The process of creating a resume, however, forces you to take a close look at your skills and your experience and determine how to best present them to a potential employer.

Writing your resume is an invaluable experience, and it is not one you should forgo in favor of having someone do it for you.

“There are only two things you can be sure a hiring manager will do when reviewing your resume,” advises Colleen Sabitino, author of Play of Your Dreams.

“Hiring managers will begin reviewing a resume by starting at the top, and they will read the lines from left to right. Their first impression will have the greatest impact and will influence how they perceive you.”

“A good resume is a glorified application,” says Sabatino. “A great resume is a marketing brochure.”

Your resume is a sales tool, not a job application. It can get you interviews, but it cannot get you jobs. A job application is a business form. Everyone who applies for a job at a company may have to fill one out.

A resume is your opportunity to present yourself in the best possible light. Your resume need not (probably ought not) contain a list of every job you’ve ever held.

Include only those jobs that best demonstrate your experience, skills and achievements. Don’t repeat formal job description; explain how you improved operations, increased profits, or achieved record sales levels.

List the year you earned your degree and the college that granted your degree, not the five colleges you went to over 10 years to get that degree.

If you have limited experience in an industry, play up the aspects of the jobs you have held to show how they are similar to the job you seek. Explain how this work demonstrated the skills you need to succeed, such as communication, responsibility, and a strong customer-orientation.

You can sit down one afternoon and pound out a resume, but you will be wasting your time. Even a good resume requires thought and effort. A great resume requires thought, effort, creativity, and a thorough understanding of the job you want to secure and the company you want to offer you that job.

Career counselors agree that resumes get no more than 20-30 seconds of attention when they arrive on the desk of the first person who handles them as they arrive in the mail. This person makes three piles.

  • The “didn’t read the job description and has none of the required qualifications” pile.
  • The “can’t write a paragraph without misspelling words, using the wrong punctuation, or making a grammatical error” pile
  • The “might be what we are looking for” pile.

The first two piles are filed, but not in a drawer that is likely to be opened again in the next millennium. The last pile is handed-off to the person who decides who gets called for an interview. This may be a human resources recruiting specialist or it may be the hiring manager.

This person sorts the resumes again, and they spend less than 30 seconds with each resume as they sort.

An experienced recruiter or hiring manager is scanning resumes for words and phrases that signal the person fits the requirements stated in the position listing, and for information that demonstrates which candidates rise above the minimum requirements.

Dr. Ronald L. Krannich is a best-selling career book author and publisher. His book Change Your Job, Change Your Life has been in print since 1989. Kannich advises you to create a resume that incorporates these characteristics:

  • Clearly communication your purpose and competencies in relation to the employer’s need.
  • Be concise and easy to read.
  • Outline a pattern of success highlighted with examples of key accomplishments.
  • Motivate the reader to read it in-depth.
  • Tell employers that you are a responsible and purposeful individual – a doer who can quickly solve their problems.
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Regulatory Compliance

Regulations have been a part of the corporate world for long, but, perhaps the emphasis on compliance has never been as great as today. The severe penalties that could be levied to the top management, including board members, and the organization as a whole have made regulatory compliance a top corporate priority.

The main aim of regulatory compliance is to ensure transparency, accuracy, and accountability in the financial information maintained by companies.The Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the U.S, and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region are the main drivers of corporate regulatory compliance. There are many other regulations and legislations governing regulatory compliance for specific accounting entities, such as Governmental Funds and Financial Services.

The benefits of compliance are threefold. First, by providing transparency to financial and operational aspects, the companies develop trust among their stakeholders, including shareholders, suppliers, and customers, and regulatory authorities. Second, the companies show that they are meeting their legal requirements. Third, and perhaps the most important benefit to the companies themselves, is that by adopting regulatory compliance, the companies strengthen their operational controls and performance standards.

Let us have a look at the main compliance provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley Act—by far the most important set of regulations affecting U.S. companies. Section 302 of the act mandates the companies to design a set of internal procedures to ensure accurate financial disclosure. It also makes the officers signing the financial information responsible for establishing and maintaining internal controls. The officers must also evaluate the effectiveness of the company’s internal controls and report their conclusions. This essentially translates into the CEO and CFO of the company certifying that they have reviewed the financial reports and that the reports ‘fairly represent’ the company’s financial position. This makes the top management of the companies responsible for the accuracy of financial information. Failure to perform this responsibility could lead to legal penalties and risk to reputation of the management personnel.

Section 404 of the act states that each annual report must include an “internal control report.” The report should affirm the responsibility of the management for establishing and maintaining an adequate internal control structure and procedures for financial reporting. The report should also contain an assessment of the effectiveness of the internal control structure and financial reporting procedures certified by external auditors.

Section 409 of the act presses for real-time issues disclosures. The issuers are required to disclose material changes in the financial and operational condition of the company to the public on a current basis. The act warrants that these disclosures be in simple English and may include trends and qualitative information. Some examples of material changes include end of a business relationship with a significant customer, a change in a rating agency’s assessment, or a large restructuring charge.

Besides these three main sections, there are numerous others, such as establishing a public company accounting oversight board, and ensuring auditor independence and corporate responsibility.However, over the years companies have found these three sections most difficult in terms of compliance. This is partially because of the high costs of implementation for complying with these sections. However, as companies migrate more to IT based systems and procedures evolve, even smaller companies are starting to adopt the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in totality.

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