Setting Standards with Former FASB Chairman Leslie Seidman

One of the most powerful figures in accounting visited the LMU campus on October 8th as part of the Paul A. Grosch Lecture Series. Leslie Seidman, former chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), presented a lecture titled “Setting Standards” in which she discussed how the FASB sets standards, the political pressures FASB members confront, and convergence efforts with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).

Seidman was appointed to the FASB in 2003 and served as chairman from 2010-2013. As part of her responsibilities, she spearheaded efforts to converge U.S. accounting standards with international accounting standards. The FASB was established in 1973 and sets standards for public and private companies as well as nonprofits.

Seidman kicked off her presentation by giving an overview of how the FASB is structured and its relationship with the SEC. There are a number of committees and councils that assist the FASB with identification, discussion and resolution of financial accounting issues. Seidman went on to explain the FASB standard setting process, which includes identifying the issue, research, issuing a document for public comment, roundtables, issuing an Accounting Standards Update and post-implementation activities.

According to Seidman, the top five issues raised by stakeholders include 1) Disclosure Framework; 2) Hedging; 3) Conceptual Framework; 4) Liabilities and Equity; and 5) Pensions and Financial Statement Presentation. The good news is that since 2002, the FASB and IASB have substantially improved and converged financial accounting standards. There are still improvements to be made, but the FASB is committed to working with regional, national and international standard setters to continue to narrow the differences and develop comparable global accounting standards.

Prior to the FASB, Seidman was a vice president in the accounting policies department at J.P. Morgan. She is a member of the AICPA, the American Woman’s Society of CPAs, Financial Executives International, the International Women’s Forum, and the Institute of Management Accountants, where she formerly served on the Financial Reporting Committee. She was named to the 2011 NACD Directorship 100 for Governance Professionals and was ranked one of the 10 most influential accountants by Accounting Today in 2011 and 2012. Seidman earned an M.S. degree in accounting from New York University Stern School of Business and a B.A. degree in English from Colgate University.