Accounting Professors

accounting professor

A Day in the Life: Accounting Professor

Welcome to A Day in the Life, a new series we schemed up to give you a peek into the lives of accounting professionals of all sorts. Today, we’re profiling Alan Jagolinzer (@jagolinzer on the tweeters), Associate Professor of Accounting at Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado, Boulder. Everyone, meet Alan. He’s an iPhone-toting […]

Should CPAs Consider a PhD?

I have written previously  about accountants getting an MBA or EMBA. This post looks at another career change -– getting a PhD to become a professor. The topic has been well covered here before; my post will talk more about my personal experience and opinions.  

Accounting Professor Who Specialized in Ethics Cheated on Lots of His Papers

Well, this sure looks bad. Last week the American Accounting Association, publisher of the Accounting Review, retracted 25 articles co-authored by James Hunton, a former Bentley University professor. This follows three retractions announced by the Journal of Accounting Research earlier this month. Ouch. According to Retraction Watch, Dr. Hunton has had 31.5 articles retracted, good […]

Here Are Two More Brackets Accountants Can Enjoy

As you may have heard, it's bwacket season and there are many fine tournaments going on that don't exploit the athletic talents of young men and women, not least among them, our own #BusySeasonProblems bracket. For those of you that just can't get enough, we heartily recommend two more: 1) BYU's Tournament Using Accounting Research […]

Survey: What Was the Salary at Your First Accounting Job?

If you remember, that is. Personally, I do. The job was with a boutique CPA firm and they offered, and I accepted, $43k. This was 2003.  I imagine most people vividly remember their first job's salary. The feel of the paper it was printed on or the person who called with the news. But the […]

What You Need to Know About Getting Into an Accounting PhD Program

This is the latest post from Dr. Emelee, a former Big 4 employee who is in process of obtaining his PhD. Read the rest of his posts here.   Now that you know what getting a PhD in accounting is really all about (hint: not teaching), you're probably wondering what it takes to get in.    […]

Getting a PhD in Accounting Isn’t Really About Teaching

This is the second post from Dr. Emelee, a former Big 4 employee who is in process of obtaining his PhD. Read his first post here.
 
Now for the second statement, “The PhD is not really about teaching.”

What’s Getting a PhD in Accounting Really All About?

This is the first post from our new contributor, Dr. Emelee, a former Big 4 employee who is in process of obtaining his PhD. So you want to be a professor?  Teaching looks like it would be fun (it is), you see that some professors are only on campus two days a week (they are), and you’ve […]

The Only Thing Better Than Working an Eminem Lyric into Your Accounting Paper Is Your Professor Calling You Out For It

I haven't written anything for academic purposes in quite some time, but it's nice to know that some of the profession's future have some creative thoughts bouncing around the grey matter. The following was sent to us from a student who told us that "one of my buddies who was able to slip in a […]

(UPDATE) KPMG, in the Midst of Grief, Is Reminding the Academic Community of Their Business Success and Enthusiastic Employees

The KPMG apology tour continues. Well, maybe it isn't an "apology tour." It's more like, "KPMG: We can explain," tour. Actually, no, it's not that either. It's more of a "KPMG: Can you believe what this guy did?" tour with support from "This is NOT what we stand for." That has been the message to both […]

Life After Public Accounting: Those Who Can, Do; Those Who Can’t, Teach

All busy season long, we'll be discussing exit opportunities for those of you feeling like overworked Chinese slave labor counting down the days from your cubes. Remember, there is life after public accounting, even if it doesn't feel like it now. If you've made a break for it and are living the life of your […]

Recruiting Season: Crossing State Lines; Starting Salary Disappointment; Choosing an Industry

Welcome to this week's roundup of baffled buckaroos. Each week we'll try to save some hapless accounting students from embarrassing themselves somewhere along recruiting trail. Have a question about recruiting season? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com with "Recruiting Season Questions" in the subject line. We'll kick things off with a follow-up from last week when "Pissed […]

Indiana University Accounting Professor Dies After Fall From Parking Garage

Sad news on the Indiana University campus as accounting professor Susan Keenan died from injuries suffered after a fall from the fourth floor of a parking garage: Susan Keenan, 51, survived a fall from a Bloomington parking garage at 7th Street and College Avenue but died in an Indianapolis hospital hours later. The Bloomington Police Department says witnesses […]

Minnesota Accounting Professor’s Real World Experience Proves To Be a Double-Edged Sword

Joseph Traxler was the CFO of Centennial Mortgage and Funding Inc. in Bloomington. He helped run an $8 million fraud by misleading banks that allowed Centennial to obtain more loans. He also hid defaults and double-funded mortgages from lenders, as well as little check kiting in order to keep the business afloat (rather than enrich […]

Northern Illinois Accounting Professor Is the Subject of the Nerdiest, Most Obscure Hitler Parody Video To Date

The Hitler outburst video meme has long run its course but every once in a while, a new one emerges that is mildly amusing. Rarely are these videos centered on accounting-related matters and even if they are, they tend to be quite unfunny. Today, We received a link to the latest offering and yes, while […]

Will One Bad Class Spell Doom for a Big 4 Recruit?

Today's blog post is brought to you by a worrisome soon-to-be-grad. Hi GC, I already accepted an offer from one of the Big 4 firms. When I did, my GPA was very solid. However, I took a class last semester with a professor that has the highest drop rates and the lowest grade average given […]

Do You Know an Exceptional Accounting Educator?

You've probably never heard of it (degenerates) but the AICPA Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award recognizes full-time college accounting educators distinguished for excellence in teaching and for national prominence in the accounting profession. The award has a dual function: to extend profession-wide recognition to the recipient and promote role models in academia. The third […]

Why Don’t More Accounting Professors Blog?

I’ll admit, I’ve trolled Tom Selling’s Accounting Onion. From what I hear, Tom doesn’t appreciate my potty mouth but that doesn’t mean I appreciate his salty opinion any less. He hates the idea of IFRS in the U.S., which immediately endears anyone to me, and I enjoy his candid (if slightly more boring than what you all are used to here on Going Concern) tone.

So when I was in full-on troll mode and saw Tom’s recent Why Do Accounting Academics Blog Less Than Other Academics? post, I had to tweet it. Short version of theeems like every bunch of academics except those in accounting seem to blog their bookish little butts off?


Well one blogging academic didn’t like that tweet (don’t shoot the messenger, bro, I am in enough trouble for my actual opinions, I don’t need heat on account of someone else’s *troll win*) and ended up writing an entire post in response *extra troll win*. Associate Professor and Chair of Accounting & Taxation at Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business, Mark Holtzman, wrote the following on his Accounting Ethicist blog:

Last night I read the Accounting Onion’s latest post, asking “why do accounting academics blog less than other academics?” The writer, Tom Selling, offers a novel, if implausible theory:

We (accounting professors) rely on the Big-4 oligopoly to hire our students:

There are certainly tradeoffs to blogging, but they all seem to be roughly the same across academic disciplines, except for the presence of the Big Four. For some reason, that appears to be a net negative in relation to blogging opportunities.

Could it be that blogging by accounting professors is detrimental to the career prospects of one’s accounting students? I’m just asking.

I immediately tweeted that this post was not nice or true. (I then added, in a second tweet, that “Accounting professors don’t blog much because we are too busy with teaching, research and service.” That was admittedly a poorly-thought-out answer – Accounting professors are just as busy as English profs or any other area.)

First of all, Accounting Onion’s theory would suggest that somehow the Big-4 fuel an atmosphere of fear. Here’s a narrative: Accounting academics are afraid to say what they really think for fear of upsetting Big-4 recruiters, and that Big-4 recruiters would viciously retaliate against these academics by refusing to hire their students. That’s ridiculous. I think I can speak for my colleagues when I say that we’re not willing to lie (or withhold the truth) in order to get prestigious employers to hire our students.

Furthermore, I’ve worked for the Big-4 (or I should say the Big-8 and Big-6 – scratch that! I haven’t worked for the Big-4, have I?). In my capacity as a Department Chair, I know many Big-4 recruiters and employees. And we accounting professors do have a lot of far-fetched opinions. But I don’t know any recruiters or partners who would retaliate against students because of their professors’ far-fetched opinions. The Big-4 firms are very systematic about who they recruit and wise enough to hire our students in spite of us and our wacky opinions.

That said, how do we answer Accounting Onion’s question? Where are all the accounting professor-bloggers?

Here goes: I’m sorry to say that accounting doesn’t make for very interesting blogging. See any interesting tax footnotes lately? How ’bout that new FASB proposal? IFRS is already a joke – how many bloggers do we need to point that out? Here comes “Little GAAP.” Is there anything interesting to say about “Little GAAP?” And while I’m at it, have you ever seen the list of topics at a AAA meeting? There could be more accounting professor blogs, yes, but who would want to read all that cr@p?

He goes on to point out that there are notable exceptions to the rule – Going Concern being one of them – but for the most part, the gist I got was that accounting is too fucking boring to warrant dedicating one’s time and effort to writing about it. Thanks for crushing my lofty career goals and any pride I had (if I ever did) in what I actually do for a living.

Pride isn’t the only thing that makes me take issue with that. I have somehow made writing about accounting my life for the last three years so I get that it’s boring. Trust me, I am the last person on the planet who would have ever thought accounting could be interesting but then I started following the adoption of IFRS in the U.S., SEC employees’ porn problems, massive frauds and interesting police blotters starring CPAs around the country. Know what? It’s not that fucking boring. And I don’t just say that to make myself feel better about my questionable career choices.

Who would want to read about that crap? A lot of people, actually. I am amazed by the amount of traffic I get on accounting-related posts on Jr Deputy Accountant that are months or even years old. Are accountants on top of the news cycle? Well no, there is no news cycle. Thank God I have the CPA exam to write about or else I might be out of a job for as little news we get in this industry. But accountants are just as interested in opinion and information as anyone, if not more.

So? What do you guys think? Would you actually read blogs by your accounting professors?

Former IRS Investigator-cum-Accounting Professor Claims He Took Money from 18 Year-old Prostitute ‘To Protect Her,’ Denies Pimp Status

Accounting professors can be a strange lot. This is known. Whether they’re getting ejected from basketball games, taking off their shirts for money or taking their pants for free, there is no shortage of curious behavior.

Then there’s the story of Kemp Shiffer, who was a part-time professor at the University of Nevada-Reno and IRS investigator. Prof Shiffer was arrested on August 3rd when he collected $400 from a 18 year-old prostitute:

The woman told police that before she began prostituting for Kemp Shiffer, he made her “try out” for the job by performing multiple sex acts on him, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Reno Justice Court to support his Aug. 3 arrest.

After Shiffer took the money from the 18-year-old Eureka, Calif., woman at the Peppermill Resort Casino Spa just before 10 p.m. Aug. 3, detectives of the regional Street Enforcement Team arrested him.

“He spontaneously stated ‘I am not a pimp. I didn’t collect her money as her pimp. I collected it to protect her,’” according to the affidavit filed last week against the 58-year-old.

Apparently this isn’t Shiffer’s first attempt at “protection” as the Reno Gazette-Journal also reports that he quit the IRS after an investigation into his attempt to use “his authority and his badge to secure women to work as prostitutes for him.”

The reader who pointed us to the story simply had this to say, “And he was my favorite accounting professor when I was in school… who knew?”

Hopefully none of your female classmates.

Records: Retired IRS investigator charged with pandering said ‘I am not a pimp’ [RGJ]

(UPDATE, VIDEO) GW Accounting Professor Gives Qualified Opinion of Referee’s Services, Gets Ejected

Up until now, we’ve heard more about accounting professors losing their clothes (shirt, pants) than anything their tempers. But today, we learned about a prof who was expressing an expert opinion (perhaps a little too strongly) on the value of a service:

An accounting professor and high-profile supporter of the GW Athletics program was escorted from the Smith Center Saturday for verbally confronting a referee over a foul call. From his sideline seat on the court, Robert Kasmir yelled at the referee over a foul call on sophomore forward David Pellom, prompting his removal from the court by a member of the athletics department. “Basically, I told the ref he was the worst ref I’d ever seen and he wasn’t worth the $1,600 dollars they were paying him and that was it,” Kasmir said. “And then he ejected me from the game.”

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that Mr Kasmir isn’t that bad of a guy:

Kasmir’s ejection came after he and his family were honored during the second half for their contributions to GW Athletics. Kasmir, who received his MBA from GW in 1974, has made at least one donation to the University ranging from $10,000 to $24,999, according to financial documents. Kasmir said the ejection would not keep him from making further donations to the University in the future.

But as for that referee, Kasmir has a very unqualified view, “I think the official should never be allowed to officiate another game in the Atlantic 10, in college basketball, in the United States.”

UPDATE: From the Post for those of you that like visuals:

Professor, donor tossed from basketball game [GW Hatchet via Deadspin]

Does This Chiseled Torso Belong to an Accounting Professor?

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Yesterday, as I was moseying through the typical day of an accounting firm scourge, a message dropped into my inbox that caught me off guard. A reader alerted me to this Daily News article that reported the winners of the Wilhelmina Hot Body Model Search. Nothing really too Earth-shattering except that our tipster noted that one of the winners has an uncanny resemblance to this accounting professor “who taught me financial reporting a few years ago.”


I took a gander and have to admit, the similarities are there but I had my doubts. Not that it would be unheard of for an accounting professor to win a Hot Body Model Search but…it’s a little unheard of for an accounting professor to win a Hot Body Model Search. Especially one with a PhD from Cornell and whose research interests in “capital markets, behavioral finance and the behaviors of arbitrageurs, earnings management and intangibles.” That simply can’t be possible, can it? I couldn’t reach the model and our conversation with the professor in question basically went like this:

In other words, a non-denial denial. I guess we’ll have to figure it out for ourselves then. All right team – could it really be the same guy, or is this just his long-lost twin?

Fraud Experts: Calls for Criminal Charges Against Ernst & Young Are ‘Absurd’

Since Andrew Cuomo decided to make our lives insanely busy this week, we’ve been talking to lots of different people about what will happen next in the Ernst & Young saga. We stumbled across a couple of experts, Dr. Mark Zimbelman an Accounting Professor who specializes in fraud, forensic accounting and auditors’ detection of fraud at BYU’s Marriott School of Business, along with his son, Aaron Zimbelman, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign whose research interests include auditing, financial statement fraud and corporate governance.

The father and son team have a blog, Fraudbytes, that discusses, well<arious forms including a post from yesterday about this week’s developments.


We corresponded with the Zimbelmans by email for this interview. They have combined their positions to provide us with the answers to our questions.

Going Concern: Does E&Y risk losing creditability with the market at large (á la Andersen) because of these civil fraud charges?

Zimbelmans: We don’t think this case will hurt E&Y’s credibility, based on what we know at this point. Lehman’s accounting for Repo 105 transactions was in accordance with GAAP and appears to have been a common practice for similar transactions in the industry. In other words, E&Y was probably following the letter of the law in signing the audit opinion. In Andersen’s case, the firm had shredded documents and faced criminal charges. Until we see a clearer act of wrongdoing (e.g. a clear departure from auditing standards), we don’t see E&Y individually facing a significant loss of credibility. More likely, the auditing and accounting profession as a whole will take a credibility hit as individuals question the standards and industry norms adhered to by E&Y in auditing Lehman.

GC: Reports say that E&Y is in talks to settle – how do you interpret their willingness to settle rather than litigate in this matter?

MZ/AZ: We think a willingness to settle speaks mostly to the great deal of uncertainty associated with the litigation process in auditing cases. Jury trials in cases like these can be very unpredictable and may not be strongly related to whether or not E&Y actually did anything wrong. Juries tend to have a poor understanding of auditing and accounting issues and also tend to side with victims and against deep pockets. In this case in particular, were the case to go to trial, E&Y has a good chance to become a scapegoat for the collapse of Lehman and perhaps even the economic crisis as a whole. Even if the probability of a verdict against E&Y were fairly low, the damages assigned by a runaway jury could be devastating. This gives E&Y a strong incentive to settle, regardless of whether or not they did anything wrong.

GC: Is there any advantage to litigating?

MZ/AZ: If the requested settlement amount would be devastating to E&Y, the firm is better off litigating. The firm may also be better off litigating if the requested settlement amount is high and E&Y feels they have a very solid case that has a good chance at overcoming the common jury biases we discussed in the previous question.

GC: How would you react to those who feel that are calling for criminal charges against the firm?

MZ/AZ: We don’t really see any criminal behavior here–E&Y allowed Lehman to account for Repo 105 in accordance with GAAP and in accordance with what was fairly standard in the industry. Until we see evidence of potentially criminal behavior, calls for criminal charges seem absurd.

GC: Prediction time: what happens next? Fine of $X and….?

MZ/AZ: We doubt there are any criminal issues here. E&Y will likely try to settle as quickly as possible to get this behind them. Cuomo is likely to want a huge settlement because of the magnitude of the bankruptcy and because of the potential for a runaway jury. Given that Lehman’s bankruptcy was $691 billion, this settlement could easily exceed E&Y’s Cendant settlements which were over $600 million.

University Officials Not Impressed with Accounting Professor’s Demonstration of “First in, First Out”

Since many of you are current or former accounting students, you undoubtedly, at one time or another during your depraved days running around the quad, had the thought creep into your mind, “What would happen if Professor Johnson decided to drop trou in the middle of class while discussing accounting for bonds?”

Unfortunately for students at Kennesaw State University, they now know the answer to that question:

Raymond Devaughn Taylor, 57, is accused of taking off his clothes during a class he was teaching, according to an arrest warrant obtained by the AJC. […] Taylor, who worked in the business department on a contract basis, taught an accounting class during the fall semester on Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to the class schedule posted on the university’s website.

“He will not be teaching again at KSU,” interim Provost Ken Harmon told the AJC.

Now, why this particular professor thought that pulling a Brett Favre on the entire class was a good idea is not entirely clear, as this particular method of impressing a target of your lust many years your junior has an abysmal track record. But as we alluded in the headline, maybe this was a unique teaching method on display. Or then again, perhaps students were showing their lack of interest and rather than scream and yell, Taylor figured this would hold the student’s attention better. OR simply, in the words of Cosmo, “Maybe uh, it needed some air. You know sometimes they need air, they can’t breathe in there. It’s inhuman.”

The theories are endless, really. Yours are welcome below and for the love of everything good and uproariously hilarious, if you were in this class, email us immediately.

[h/t TaxProf and The Summa – neither of whom would ever do such a thing]

The Scam That Accounting Education Isn’t

I complain about a lot of things in the industry that I probably should be grateful for instead: Sarbanes-Oxley, the PCAOB, the IASB and the AICPA Board of Examiners… the list goes on. I’ve done my fair share of complaining about accounting education as well (even offending some by implying professors were cheap and lazy though I certainly did not mean all or even most accounting professors) but I think it’s safe for us to say that we have it a lot better than some other professions. Like law.


Check out Critical Mass on the law school scam (the entire thing is recommended reading):

Over the years, I wrote countless law school recommendations and very, very few grad school recommendations. I never worried too much about the ones who were law school-bound–the students I worried about were the ones who decided to go for PhD’s in English. Grad school in the humanities is a scam. There are simply no jobs, tenure is disappearing, the culture of the academic humanities is pathological, and the sort of academic life grad students hope to acquire is ceasing to exist. But law school, I felt, was a safe bet–and would also offer its own variety of intellectual thrill. Who wouldn’t want to learn to think with the precision, capaciousness, originality, and historical-mindedness that the law requires? It’s beautiful and powerful and very, very useful. When done well, it’s applied scholarship, scholarship with decisiveness and impact.

But bubbles are bursting everywhere we look these days. Last month I posted about how Loyola’s law school is cooking transcripts to give its grads a leg up on the job market. Now comes word of widespread cynical profiteering at the expense of students’ futures.

Accounting education doesn’t appear to be so neatly packaged as the debt factory that law is, nor does it seem to produce too many rats to fit in our particular race. Sure, there are plenty of unequipped idiots who get through (shouldn’t professors exist to weed these out if education is, in fact, meant for the greater good of our economy and not just to create more perpetual debt?) but that happens in any profession, no more in accounting than elsewhere as far as I can tell.

Do a Google search on the law school scam and you’ll get pages upon pages of results. Do one on the accounting education scam and you’ll get one question about DeVry’s accounting program (I won’t say a word). Does that mean accounting is any better off?

Somewhere between this depressing March 2010 report from CPA Trendlines on how actual firms held up through the recession in 2009, and the rosy reports from hijacked media like CNN about how great the industry is handling this mess, lies the truth. Some areas are better than others and some accounting grads just don’t deserve a job. With the firms lining up the lawyers instead of the staff, you can bet the days of skating your way through 2 years of easy work experience are pretty much over.

Hopefully this means fewer unqualified future accountants being pushed through accounting programs that will soon be starving for qualified educators and better prospects for the bright, talented future CPAs who actually deserve a job in this industry.

Deloitte Donates $500k to Seminar Where Professors Nerd Out on Complex Accounting Issues

Joking, joking, joking. Actually it’s the American Accounting Association Robert M. Trueblood Seminars for Professors and it sounds as though it’s a pretty important little get-together.

Launched in 1966 and sponsored by the AAA, the Trueblood Seminars is a two and one-half day session where attendees share and examine complex accounting and auditing case studies. The program’s objective is to offer professors some perspective on present day accounting issues from the viewpoint of the auditors and preparers of financial statements. Each seminar features multiple case discussions led by Deloitte & Touche LLP partners, an open forum discussion on professional issues and developments in practice, as well as an update on the standard-setting activities of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). More than 2,000 professors have attended the Seminars since the program’s inception.

As long as Barry Salzberg isn’t having a free-wheeling discussion about diversity, then we’re all for it.

Deloitte Foundation Renews $500,000 Commitment to Continuing Education for Accounting Professors [CSR Newswire]

Have You Considered Becoming an Accounting Professor?

We already did a series on credentials for accountants if you’re looking for add letters to the end of your name but if you’re not looking to take that route or looking to get out of it after you’ve gotten some experience under your belt, you may want to look into a PhD in accounting. We’re serious.

The Accounting Doctoral Scholars program, a joint project by 70+ accounting firms, several state societies of CPAs and the AICPA, wants to help you. $15 million has gone into their efforts to fill a much-needed gap in accounting education and if you don’t quite fit in to the cube, you may be one of the chosen ones.


That means they have money to help you through school so get in touch with them if this sounds like you:

If you are someone who loves learning, generating new ideas, and setting your own agenda you may want to seriously consider pursuing a doctoral degree in accounting. While all academicians can make their mark in a field, those with a Ph.D. in accounting have the opportunity to influence both accounting education and public accounting practice.

The ADS Program will provide funding for selected individuals, with recent meaningful experience in public accounting in auditing and tax, to help them make a permanent transition to teaching and research at the university level. The funding will support application to doctoral programs in accounting and also provide a stipend of $30,000 per year for up to four years of enrollment to individuals committed to teaching and research in auditing and tax—the areas of greatest need—upon completion of their doctorates. The Program will support its third class of Accounting Doctoral Scholars for Fall 2011.

No one can tell you how far to take your education. We know CPAs with PhDs who love teaching and we know teachers who have their CPA and don’t realize they practice education. It is difficult enough to decide between a Masters in Accounting and an MBA (or so we hear), how many of you are really thinking of a PhD?

If just one of you are, hopefully this helps. We’d be curious to hear what career paths you plan to take if you are and always defer you to friend of Going Concern Professor David Albrecht if you want to talk to someone who does it for a living.

This does mean you’ll actually have to teach.

Last year, AccountingWEB identified 5 reasons why we’re so desperate for PhDs in Accounting including the lifestyle change required to pursue one and the economic cost of funding it.

The New York Society of CPAs’ CPA Journal gets into what is required and what to expect if you take this route here and you can check out earlier posts that GC did on the pros and cons of the career move into academia. Good luck!

NYU Chair: The World Won’t End if the United States Converts to IFRS

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Now that convergence has been delayed, the anti-convergence/IFRS contingent is hopeful that this is a major sign of defeat. Whether that’s the case or not remains to be seen but don’t expect the debate to go away.

We recently spoke with Dr. Frederick Choi, Dean Emeritus and Distingu��������������������sor of Business and Chair of the Accounting Department at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business about the latest current events and what Stern does to prepare its students for IFRS in their careers and on the CPA Exam.


GC: So the number one question on everyone’s mind – will the world end if the United States converts to IFRS?
Dr. Frederick Choi: [laughs] My answer to that is to not to worry, the world will continue as it always has, so we’ll continue to have fun with accounting like we always have in the past.

GC: So there’s no risk that the U.S. will lose its imperial superpower status as a result of this?
FC: No, I don’t think so. I think there’s sufficient flexibility in international accounting standards so that we can continue on as before.

GC: So why do you think the SEC is so cautious? Are all those lawyers scared because there might be numbers involved?
FC: First of all, the U.S. environment is a very litigious environment so I think there’s a concern that IFRS will permit more judgment for the company presenting the numbers. U.S. GAAP, because of the litigious environment, has to be a little more prescriptive, that is, “here are the rules, here are the exceptions.”

At one time in the US, our accounting rules were principles-based and required a lot of judgment. In the ‘60s some companies were were cooking the books which resulted in reporting scandals and class-actions. Then someone said, , “hey, the audit firms have a lot money, so let’s go after the auditors.” That’s when accounting prescriptions became much more rules-focused. So I think the big fear is that moving from an environment that is more rules-based to one that is more principles based will require much more judgment and perhaps invite more litigation.

GC: So a little current events question – what do you make of the FASB and IASB’s announcement that the convergence project is going to be a tad late? Was the June 2011 to get those G20 guys off their backs or did they really think they were going to get this pulled off?
FC: I think when they first started the project towards convergence they did so in good faith but there are some significant differences that need to be ironed out. And given the vested interests, it’s going to take a while. I’m not surprised that the deadline has been extended.

GC: And the SEC seems completely all right with it.
FC: Yes.

GC: Say I’m against IFRS – in fact, I’m a militant for U.S. GAAP. I don’t want IFRS anywhere near our capital markets because it’s too principles-based, countries need financial reporting autonomy and that it doesn’t really benefit anyone except a bunch of big accounting firms that need a new revenue stream? Plus, it’s going to be a nightmare for companies to convert to and it doesn’t really help small and medium-sized businesses…
FC: That’s correct.

GC: …having said all that, your response to me is…
FC: I look at this from the point of view of the the analyst. From the point of view of the analyst, the name of the game is to read the tea leaves and get as close to the underlying transaction as possible. The one strength of U.S. GAAP is that there’s a lot of research that goes into the pronouncements. I think U.S. GAAP – without sounding nationalistic – is the best researched, empirically as well as conceptually, accounting standards in the world.

I think an analyst should not be bogged down by whether U.S. GAAP is better or IFRS is better. Analysts have always taken the numbers and massaged them to get closer to what he or she thinks the underlying economics are. In fact, if you look at the not-so-sharp analyst who will say, “Oh, we’re going to IFRS and that’s going to make my life easier,” my response is “No, it’s not.” I think it will be more complicated.

GC: Okay but there are going to be some tricky areas, right? What are those going to be?
FC: I think the biggie is the ability to write down an asset and write it back up. Here in the States, when we impair an asset we cannot go back and reverse it. The rationale behind that was you don’t want to give firms the option to manage the bottom line.

Firms that write asset back up will be able to smooth earnings. Say you and I are in business and we have a good year, so we write down an asset and take the loss. Next year, we say “Oh my god, results are horrible. How can we pump up the bottom line?” We reverse the write-down. So, that’s a big concern that I have. That applies to intangible assets, it applies to plant & equipment, it applies to inventory. So this is a biggie.

Another difference worth nothing is if management feels that the standard they are following is misleading, they can actually deviate from the standard. That’s a major concern as well.

GC: How familiar are you with integrated reporting? How do you think it fits in with the transition and is this something we’ll see more of or are we still at the baby steps stage?
FC: I think from an investor’s point of view, that’s going to be confusing because you’re going to have hard numbers combined with very soft numbers and I’m not so sure that’s going to make life easy. I think if you keep the soft stuff in a separate statement then the analyst can look at the hard numbers and come to a preliminary conclusion and looking at the soft numbers make some professional judgment – do you bump the number up a little bit or do you interpret it a little more cautiously. To me that’s the better state of the world.

GC: And as it stands right now, there’s no way to audit the non-financial information
FC: That’s correct.

GC: What are you doing to prepare your students at NYU for the transition?
FC: I put together a team here at Stern and we looked at all the courses that deal with financial reporting and basically I think the whole approach that we’ve taken is that our responsibility is not to teach students to memorize rules, our responsibility is to teach them how to think and think critically. We say here is an international accounting standard. Let’s talk about various measurement issues that we normally talk about and when a new standard is issued, I’ll expose you to both the U.S. standard and the international standard. For now, those two sets of standards will continue for the next several years. If the international standard is different from the U.S. standard we’ll say “here’s the implications on the financial statements and profitability, liquidity, ratios, etc.” So students can identify the impact of the different measurement framework on the financial statements.

GC: How have you balanced, from a curriculum standpoint, IFRS education and the requirements for the upcoming changes to the CPA Exam?
FC: Our approach is not to teach students to pass the CPA Exam, our approach is provide an education. Students need to learn and think critically because rules will change over time and I think it’s best to develop those critical thinking skills. We infuse international reporting standards throughout the curriculum but not in the sense where we say, “Here, memorize this rule and be able to spit it out and ace that question on the CPA exam.” We’re basically saying, “here are the standards, here are the differences, here’s how they will impact the financial statements and be aware of that.” We have a combined BS/MS in accounting program that prepares students for the 150 hours and a required international accounting and reporting course is part of that degree.

GC: So in other words, they’ve got this on lockdown and they will all be go-to experts on IFRS at their firms?
FC: I think they’ll be able to speak intelligently about IFRS but they won’t be rulebooks.

GC: What are you hearing from the firms that recruit at NYU (other than “send us the smartest ones) on this issue?
FC: I think the market likes our product because we develop those critical thinking skills and our placement rate at the Undergraduate College is close to 100%, so they like the product irrespective if they know IFRS or not because if you’re smart and have the critical thinking skills you can pick up IFRS in very short order. Given a choice between two students – one that has been exposed to IFRS and one that has not, but they’re both bright, and the firm can only take one, of course the firm will take the one with the familiarity with IFRS but I don’t think that’s ever been an issue.

GC: Back to the CPA exam. Of course everyone at NYU will be passing no problem but what about students and instructors elsewhere? Should they cram it in and get it passed in 2010 or will they be ready for the 2011 exam?
FC: I think many schools are already gearing up. We have shared our approach with many schools via workshops, conference presentations and the like. We are always ready to assist. Our approach is, “ We’ve exposed you to IFRS and if it is on the exam, youlcan get more details in a review course or you can bone up on IFRS on your own, but it shouldn’t be a big issue.

Five Questions with Accounting Professor David Albrecht

You might know him as Professor Albrecht (at least I still call him that) or you may read The Summa and have no idea who the guy is.

JDA recently forced him to answer some questions to get to the man behind the adamantly anti-IFRS curtain we love so much and discovered he’s proud to be a dissenting voice in the argument over global accounting standards convergence and then some.

First of all, Prof Albrecht is way more old school than just about anyone. He was “blogging” on listservs before there was a such thing as a blog and Caleb and I were still playing 8-bit Super Mario Bros.


Alright, maybe we’d advanced to AOL by the time Professor Albrecht was set loose among hundreds of accounting professors from around the world, the point is he’s been around. The Summa is only about a year and a half old but if you’ve ever read an accounting blog, chances are you’ve seen his work.

Secondly, he’s got opinions and lots of them. Better yet, he enjoys being a teacher; spreading the knowledge both to his own students and the “students” around the world who read The Summa regularly. That means he’d be happy to teach you why he feels the way he does but won’t hold it against you if you feel differently. That’s an admirable quality, and only part of what makes him one of my favorite accounting bloggers.

He also takes interrogation well.

Why do you blog?
I believe that writing something down helps you put your thoughts in order. Writing actually helps me figure out what I think about something. I want to make a difference. Blogging about IFRS is a way of drawing attention to the “other” side of the issue, the one you don’t hear from the large accounting firms or the SEC or the IASB or the EU.

Why should you accountants read your blog?
To find out an accounting professor take on accounting/business/finance issues. I’ve been on an e-mail listserv with hundreds of accounting professors from around the world for 14 years in the thick of many discussions. I take what I learn from these discussions and bring them to The Summa.

If someone had to read just one post of yours which one would it be?
I’ve written dozens of posts on IFRS, and you want just one? Dave Albrecht–IFRS Critic

A good accountant is…
Someone who can tell left from right.

Best Accounting firm program we’ve never heard of…
The Concordia College (Moorhead, MN) accounting major.