It has taken an extremely long time for SEC Chair Mary Schapiro to decide on a Chief Accountant. It is rumored that she is about to name her choice. It has been passed along to me by a trusted source that the short list of candidates for SEC Chief Accountant includes:
- Jane B. Adams, a former deputy chief accountant of the SEC and former longtime staff member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, who worked until recently at Maverick Capital, New York. Ms. Adams was a financial contributor to the Obama campaign.
- Wayne Carnall, currently chief accountant of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance and a former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
- Jack Ciesielski, president of R.G. Associates, Baltimore, a current member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Investors Technical Advisory Committee and veteran of several standard-setting panels, who also is publisher of Analyst’s Accounting Observer.
- James Kroeker, acting SEC chief accountant and former partner at Deloitte & Touche, who joined the SEC staff in early 2007 as a deputy to former Chief Accountant Conrad Hewitt.
- Charles Niemeier, a member of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and former chief accountant of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. Niemeier has chosen to remain completely independent from partisan politics.
It is my belief that Niemeier was an early front runner, but heavy lobbying prevented his naming. Charlie McGreevey–European Union Treasury Minister– is rumored to have sent a personal envoy to Washington and an audience with SEC Chair Mary Schapiro to argue his case against Niemeier. The large accounting firms and AICPA also lobbied strongly against him. Niemeier caused strong opposition because of his September 10, 2008 speech against U.S. adoption of IFRS. Schapiro is rumored to have said, “With so much opposition I simply can’t appoint him.” It is precisely because of that opposition that he should have been appointed.
Tom Selling, consultant and author of The Accounting Onion, has conjectured about odds of appointment on AECM, the listserv for Accounting Professors:
- Adams: 1:1 (even money) The right background; may not have staked out a position on IFRS yet; would be the first woman chief accountant.
- Carnall: 3:2 Perhaps the world’s most knowledgeable person on foreign private issuer matters. Nice guy, could be a very popular choice with the SEC Staff (just guessing on that).
- Ciesielski: 99:1 Same political baggage as Niemeier (see below).
- Kroeker: 23:2 Don’t know him. Association with the Cox/Hewitt era could be a plus (political compromise), or a minus (guilt by association).
- Niemeier: 99:1 Much too candid, rigorous in approach, and independent-minded.
Who know if this is an accurate handicapping?
The Chief Accountant of the SEC has a tremendous influence on accounting policy in the U.S. In essence, the Chief Accountant is responsible for the strategic directions of all matters related to accounting and auditing. In essence, he is the First Accountant of the United States. He is at the center of the accounting universe. Specifically, the Chief Accountant is responsible for:
- Oversight of the FASB as it develops and maintains U.S. GAAP.
- Oversight of the PCAOB is it regulates auditors and develops and maintains audit/auditor standards.
- Coordinating U.S. relations and communications with international organizations that have an impact on accounting standards and practices.
It will be a real shame if Charley Niemeier is not appointed.
Debit and credit – - David Albrecht