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Since its inception over four decades ago, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has been led by seven individuals who have served as Board Chair. This paper includes a biographical sketch of the individuals, their terms of service, standards topics and some points of commonality and difference in their prior experience and Board service. This study provides a synoptic review to assist those interested in learning more about the Board Chairs, and to inform as to the role and style of each individual in contrast to the others. The paper provides a foundation for future research of these individuals, their activities and actions through other historical research such as oral histories, collections of writings and speeches and similar catalogues of activity.
Summary and conclusions
The purpose of this paper is to provide profile materials and a summary of activity regarding the seven individuals who have served the FASB as its Board Chair. To begin this process, the authors have researched and detailed the careers of these individuals in order to outline and to facilitate future research into particular events and topics that are noted and identified. To the extent that this work and findings assist in identifying trends, commonalities, consequences, and inconsistencies, it will have achieved a beginning in what is anticipated to become an area of important future biographical and institutional study. Table 2 provides an example of an early pattern of some commonalities: all are CPAs and all had some experience with standard setting before becoming Chair, with the EITF being a major source of experience with the more recent Chairs. Yet, Kirk, for example had no standardsetting experience before becoming an FASB member, prior to his service as Chair (yet he did have five years of board service experience by the time he became Chair). All of the Chairs had worked in public accounting for a major accounting firm, although Seidman’s primary occupation was in industry. The dominant pattern of males serving as Chairs changed with Leslie Seidman becoming the first female. Several of the Chairs, if not all, were aided by their networking with other standard-setters and influential accounting thought leaders. To further expand the pattern of considerations, the two most recent Chairs gained their standard-setting experience as staff members at the FASB.
Recently a panel at the 2016 Centennial meeting of the AAA led by its President Bruce Behn brought together five past Chairs (all but the first who is deceased and the current holder) in a public forum that provided a dynamic opportunity for exchange of knowledge and improved understanding of the role played by the FASB and its Chair. Many comments from that session have been incorporated into this paper (See AAA, 2016).
Fundamental reviews, commentaries and study of the Chairs’ efforts will continue with the passage of time, as new events take place and prior evaluations are amended with the turn of economic and accounting events. Hopefully this survey and summary will serve as a point of useful reference in such activity.