September 17, 2019

RIP James Schnurr, Former SEC Chief Accountant

The SEC confirmed last night some sad news we saw being shared on Twitter yesterday that former Chief Accountant James Schnurr has passed away.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in a statement:

“Jim was a dedicated and respected public servant who left us far too soon. While at the Commission, he was committed to establishing and enforcing accounting and auditing policy as well as improving the professional performance of public company auditors. The strong leadership he demonstrated during his time here should be looked to as an example for all who wish to serve America’s investors and markets. Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and loved ones he left behind, especially his devoted wife, Christine.”

Wesley Bricker, PwC’s head of assurance for U.S. and Mexico, who succeeded Schnurr as SEC chief accountant in November 2016, remembered his predecessor in a tweet yesterday:

James Schnurr

Schnurr got his undergraduate degree from College of the Holy Cross and his MBA from Rutgers. From there, he started with Deloitte in 1975 and became partner in 1985. He was a senior partner for mergers and acquisition services from 1994 to 2002, and a deputy managing partner of Deloitte’s professional practice from 2002 to 2009 where he was responsible for quality control and risk management of the firm’s audit and advisory services.

Schnurr ended his career at Deloitte as vice chairman and senior professional practice director, specializing in financial and SEC reporting for public companies. After retiring from Deloitte, he joined the SEC in 2014 and was named chief accountant in August, succeeding Paul Beswick. Schnurr officially took over in October of that year.

Among his accomplishments, Schnurr is credited with:

  • Developing a concept release on audit committee disclosures, which are used to evaluate whether investors have the information they need to make informed decisions;
  • Monitoring implementation issues related to the new revenue recognition standard that was developed jointly by the FASB and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB);
  • Addressing concerns on the interpretation and application of the requirements related to the guide to internal control over financial reporting (ICFR);
  • Leading a review and outreach on alternatives for the use of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) by domestic issuers; and
  • Working with the SEC Division of Corporation Finance to develop guidance related to non-GAAP disclosures.

Unfortunately, Schnurr had to retire from the SEC in November 2016 after sustaining serious injuries in a bicycle crash near his home in Jupiter, FL, in April of that year.

Schnurr, who broke his neck in the accident and was rendered a quadriplegic, was awarded $41 million in damages by a Palm Beach County jury last May.

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