Risk & Compliance

The Faces Are New, but the Agenda Is Not

New leaders take their places at key accounting and enforcement agencies.
Kate O'SullivanFebruary 1, 2011

Just in time for The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, CFOs have some new names to learn as two major regulators welcome fresh leadership. In December, the Financial Accounting Foundation, parent of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), named Leslie Seidman as its new chair. In January, Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Schapiro picked James Doty to head the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), filling a post that had lacked a permanent occupant since July 2009.

At FASB, Seidman replaces longtime chair Robert Herz, who departed last September in a surprising early retirement, two years before the scheduled end of his term. A member of the board since 2003, Seidman, 48, began her career as an auditor at Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young) and is a former FASB staffer. She has held the interim chair post since Herz’s departure. Her term ends in 2013.

“Probably more than others on the board, she brings a preparer’s perspective to the table,” Arnie Hanish, chief accounting officer of Eli Lilly and a frequent commenter on FASB standards, told CFO when Seidman took over the interim job.

Seidman will lead an organization that now consists of seven members, thanks to the mid-January addition of Daryl Buck (currently CFO of Reasor’s Holdings) and R. Harold “Hal” Schroeder.

In a statement upon her appointment, Seidman reaffirmed FASB’s commitment to the long-running international accounting standards convergence project, an eight-year effort that Herz spearheaded during his tenure that aims to merge U.S. generally accepted accounting principles with the international financial reporting standards (IFRS) observed in many other countries. “We are at a crucial point in our convergence program, and my fellow board members and I are working in close partnership with the [International Accounting Standards Board] to improve the comparability of financial information around the world,” Seidman said. The IASB, for its part, is also facing a leadership change (see “Tweedie Takes a Bow“).

Quote from Leslie Seidman

Seidman also inherits complex and controversial ongoing projects related to revenue-recognition rules, lease accounting, and fair value.

New PCAOB chair Doty is a securities lawyer, most recently a partner at Baker Botts in Washington, D.C., and a former SEC general counsel during Richard Breeden’s chairmanship. His appointment to the accounting-firm overseer resolves lingering uncertainty at the board, whose constitutionality was challenged but ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last June. The board’s leadership has been in flux since chair Mark Olson stepped down a year and a half ago.

The PCAOB also added two new members in January: Jay Hanson, a partner at McGladrey & Pullen and an accounting-standards expert, and Lewis Ferguson, a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and a former PCAOB general counsel. The pair replaces Charles Niemeier and William Gradison, whose terms have expired.

The revamped board’s return to full strength is timely, as the PCAOB may see an expansion of its duties in the coming year under Dodd-Frank. The law broadens the PCAOB’s scope to encompass not only oversight of audit firms and public-company audits but also audits of securities brokers and dealers.