Five for FASB: Golden Appointed to Board

Russell Golden, the technical director of FASB for the past two years, moves into the board seat vacated by Robert Herz.

The trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation have appointed Russell Golden to the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Golden, whose five-year term begins on October 1, is currently FASB’s technical director, and will fill the vacancy left by the early retirement of board chairman Robert Herz, which was announced in August.

A former accounting research partner with the national office of Deloitte, Golden, 40, joined FASB’s staff in January 2004 and became technical director in June 2008. He has helped the board address some of the most contentious accounting issues of the past decade, including stock-option expensing, fair-value accounting, the valuation of financial instruments, and the convergence project to mesh U.S. generally accepted accounting principles with international accounting standards.

Golden tells CFO that of all the projects he has worked on, the most interesting have been the “MOU projects” — the board’s name for the standards slated to be converged under a memorandum of understanding between FASB and the International Accounting Standards Board. The MOU projects include rules on revenue recognition, leases, pensions, and business combinations, and Golden says it has been challenging to think about how those rules interrelate.

Indeed, the interrelationship of disparate rules is one of the areas FASB has focused on in recent years to drive out complexity from the more than 12,000 pages of U.S. GAAP. An overarching tenet of the convergence conceptual framework is to simplify the standards and base the rules on broad concepts that can be applied consistently across U.S. GAAP and international financial reporting standards.

With Golden’s appointment, FASB still has two vacant seats to fill on the seven-member board. (In August, when the FAF trustees announced Herz’s retirement, they also expanded the board’s membership from five to seven, its level prior to February 2008.) His background as an auditor likely means that the trustees will be looking for financial-statement users or preparers to fill the seats. Counting Golden, the board now consists of two auditors, an academic, and a user and preparer of financial statements.

Golden says he considers his point of view to be less that of an auditor and more of someone with an “open mind” about improving financial reporting, which includes balancing investor concerns with the cost of improvements to preparers and auditors.

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