New chairman of U.S. accounting standards body named

Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:10pm EDT

(Reuters) - An insider known as a calming force was chosen on Tuesday to be the new chief steward of U.S. corporate accounting standards at a challenging time for those who keep corporate America's books.

Russell Golden, 42, was named chairman of the seven-member U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) by its parent organization, the Financial Accounting Foundation.

A former FASB staff member and a former partner at accounting giant Deloitte & Touche LLP, Golden will replace Leslie Seidman, whose term as chair expires at the end of June.

Golden is the second consecutive staff member to be chosen to head FASB. Seidman was a staff member, as well.

"I suspect we will see nothing new from Mr. Golden's board," said Anthony Catanach, an accounting professor at Villanova University near Philadelphia.

Naming a chairman who is familiar with FASB's operations and challenges likely was a good decision, Catanach said, "given all that FASB has on its plate right now."

CONTROVERSIAL DECISIONS LOOM

The board is working to complete several controversial changes to U.S. accounting, including revamped standards for leases, revenues and financial instruments.

"He (Golden) has definitely been a calming, moderating voice in the deliberations that I've witnessed him participate in," said Bruce Pounder, director of professional programs for Loscalzo Associates, a Shrewsbury, New Jersey-based company that provides education for accountants.

That will be important, as the board has been deeply divided on some major accounting decisions, Pounder said.

FASB writes the standards for the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) that are used by U.S. businesses, unlike businesses in most of the rest of the world.

Outside the United States, the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) set of rules is much more common.

Both FASB and international standard-setters have been under pressure from the Group of 20 countries to align U.S. accounting standards with international rules, but this project has been under way for many years and has struggled with delays and controversy.

Since the financial crisis of 2007-2009, FASB has also under pressure to reform accounting so banks recognize losses earlier.

Golden has been a FASB board member since 2010. He was on its staff for six years. His term as chairman will end in June 2017, when he will be eligible for another term of three years.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh)

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