Top Exec Steps Down from FASB Parent

The Financial Accounting Foundation's president, Robert DeSantis, was at the helm during the SEC's power struggle with the accounting standards board.

Robert DeSantis will resign as president and chief operating officer of the Financial Accounting Foundation later this month. He is leaving to pursue “other corporate executive opportunities,” according to FAF spokeswoman Christine Klimek.

Two years ago this month, DeSantis joined FAF, the parent organization of the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. He previously held senior executive posts in the broad-band communications, technology, and utility industries.

Teresa Polley, executive director of FASB Advisory Groups, will take over as interim COO when DeSantis leaves on September 21.

DeSantis’ tenure at FAF has included a struggle over independence and power for the standard-setters he oversaw. Earlier this year, the tussle was with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC had flexed its own muscles in the standard-setting business when its staff refused to sign off on FASB’s budget until FAF agreed to the regulator’s demands for more say in the appointment of both FASB members and FAF trustees. The SEC also wouldn’t approve a 2007 pay increase for FASB board members.

In April, DeSantis told CFO.com he didn’t consider the matter a dispute between the organizations. FAF ultimately agreed to the changes, and the 2007 budget was certified by the SEC under the commission’s responsibilities given to it by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The SEC had decided that FASB member salaries needed to be brought in line with the market, but that “2007 was not the appropriate year” to do so, DeSantis said.

The result of the back-and-forth between FAF and the SEC appeared to leave the commission the clear winner, the one that calls the shots when it comes to accounting rules.

Also this year, DeSantis expressed frustration over Connecticut legislation that sought to give the state comptroller–rather than GASB–authority over accounting standards. In a June letter, DeSantis wrote that the bill weakened independent standard-setting that is currently “free from political influence.”

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