Leslie F. Seidman, a member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board since 2003 and acting chairman of the board for the past three months, has been named chairman of FASB. The announcement was made on Thursday by the board of trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF), FASB’s parent organization.
Seidman became acting chairman upon the retirement of former chairman Robert H. Herz on September 30. Herz’s departure, coming two years before the official end of his term, shocked many in the accounting community, particularly since FASB and the International Accounting Standards Board have been embarked on an ambitious, currently eight-year-old project to converge U.S. and international accounting standards.
Seidman “brings both unparalleled standard-setting experience and outstanding leadership skills to her new role,” said FAF chairman John J. Brennan in a statement. She began her career as an audit staffer at accounting firm Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young) and later served as a vice president in the accounting policies department of J.P. Morgan. Then, from 1994 to 1999 Seidman was a member of FASB’s staff, becoming the assistant director of research and technical activities. She subsequently founded and managed a financial-reporting consultancy before returning to FASB as a board member in 2003.
“Probably more than others on the board, she brings a preparer’s perspective to the table,” Arnie Hanish, chief accounting officer of Eli Lilly and a frequent commenter on FASB standards, told CFO last August.
In a statement on Thursday, Seidman reaffirmed FASB’s commitment to the accounting-convergence project. “We are at a crucial point in our convergence program, and my fellow Board members and I are working in close partnership with the IASB to improve the comparability of financial information around the world,” she said.