Chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board Visits Johnson

3/6/2012 4:50:00 PM

Leslie F. Seidman shared insights and fielded questions from students


Faculty and students from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management and the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management recently took their accounting policy questions straight to the top, when the schools hosted the Chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), Leslie F. Seidman. The FASB is the chief policy-making organization for accounting issues in the United States.


Seidman’s guest lecture as chairman of FASB was the first of its kind for the Schools.


“We [Johnson] have a long relationship with the FASB, which makes it possible to bring people like Chairman Seidman to Cornell,” said Mark Nelson, the Eleanora and George Landew Professor of Management and professor of accounting, who organized the session for students and faculty.


While discussing the ongoing quest to develop high-quality financial reporting standards, Seidman selected from nearly 50 questions submitted by students. Inquiries ranged in theme from challenges in developing international accounting standards, to issues about private company reporting.


“I really appreciated the opportunity to participate in the meeting with Leslie Seidman,” said Eldar Maksymov, PhD '16. “The setting was fairly informal and allowed us to interact with her and receive first-hand answers to our questions about the top issues on the board’s agenda.” 

Nelson noted the important role that standards play in helping to maintain excellent financial reporting. “The importance of standards became clear because of the financial crisis,” he said. “The crisis helped us understand that having a clear understanding of a business’ performance is crucial.”   


Abdullah Shahid, PhD ’18, attended the talk with Seidman and said he found the topic of setting standards across cultures interesting, among other issues covered in her discussion.


“The notion of standards – even what people consider to be a reasonable estimate – can vary across cultures,” Shahid said. “Balancing costs and benefits of standards for various stakeholders is quite a challenging job. The process is, therefore, participative and engaging.”

Nelson said he heard other students reflecting on the opportunity to speak with Seidman during class, exclaiming “that was incredible,” while leaving the room afterward.

“I think students were impressed with her frankness, approachability, knowledge, and genuine devotion to maintaining top-quality financial accounting standards.” Nelson added. “Opportunities like this help us achieve our mission of providing rigorous accounting training to students. We are lucky to have had the opportunity to host Chairman Seidman.”

Johnson accounting faculty members have worked, and continue their involvement, with the FASB on standard-setting issues. Robert Swieringa, professor of accounting, was a member of the FASB for 10 years, writing many of the standards that he now teaches in the classroom. Nelson served for four years on the FASB's Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council, and Robert Bloomfield, Nicholas H. Noyes Professor of Management and professor of accounting, is the founding director of the Financial Accounting Standards Research Initiative (FASRI). FASRI, an activity of the FASB, promotes communication between academic researchers and accounting standard setters and conducts research to assist the board in its deliberations.