Former SEC chief accountant named to U.S. accounting board

NEW YORK Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:31pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former chief accountant of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been named to the private board that sets corporate accounting standards as it conducts a controversial overhaul of corporate America's bookkeeping.

James Kroeker, 44, will be a vice chairman of the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board, the board's parent organization, the Financial Accounting Foundation said in a statement on Wednesday.

Kroeker is known for handling difficult policy decisions during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and will face projects that have been slowed by disagreements between board members and resistance from the business community.

A former deputy managing partner at accounting giant Deloitte, Kroeker was a central figure at the SEC in weighing whether the United States should move to international accounting standards.

As chief accountant from 2009 to 2012, he led the regulator's efforts to study that issue, which has yet to be resolved. Kroeker is the second Deloitte veteran to be named to a FASB leadership position this year.

In April, Russell Golden, a former partner at Deloitte, was named chair of the five-member FASB. Kroeker will fill the board seat left open when the term of former chair Leslie Seidman expired at the end of June.

PRESSURE GROWS TO REVAMP ACCOUNTING

FASB writes standards known as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, used by U.S. businesses. The board has been working with the London-based International Accounting Standards Board to try to align U.S. GAAP with international rules.

As part of that effort, the boards are working to complete several controversial changes to accounting standards, including new rules for leases, revenues and financial instruments.

The boards have been under increasing pressure from the world's 20 largest economies (G20) to speed their reform of accounting for bank loans and help prevent a repeat of the financial crisis.

With the boards unable to come together on some key standards, the SEC has also put off a decision on whether the United States will make a broader shift to international accounting rules.

"If you're talking about needing to be conscious of the political and economic impacts of what the board does, Jim is an excellent choice for that," said Bruce Pounder, director of professional programs at accounting education company Loscalzo Associates.

"He's got the experience of making policy decisions within a highly politicized environment," he said.

At the SEC, Kroeker led the agency's effort to address accounting concerns that surfaced during the financial crisis, including calls to change a controversial "fair value," or market-based approach to measuring assets.

He recently served as deputy managing partner in Deloitte's Washington D.C. office. His term at FASB will begin on September 1 and run through June 2018, the foundation said.

The position of vice chairman was created early in FASB's history and later eliminated. The foundation said it decided to reinstate it because of increasing demands on the FASB chairman.

(Reporting By Dena Aubin; editing by Andrew Hay)