From the President’s Desk
By Terri Polley, FAF President and Chief Executive Officer
Spring 2017

Our Evolving and Ongoing Search for Talent

Steve Jobs once said, "In order to do things well, that can't be done by one person, you must find extraordinary people."

Finding extraordinary people and appointing them to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), the Boards’ advisory councils, and the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) is, in my view, one of the most important roles of the FAF Board of Trustees.

Given the importance of high-quality financial accounting and reporting standards to the capital markets, this is a significant responsibility. And given the term limits for service on all those groups, it is a near-continuous pursuit.

While many stakeholders know that the Trustees have these appointment responsibilities, they may be less familiar with how we recruit candidates. How do we search for candidates, and cast the widest net possible? What extraordinary skills, backgrounds, and qualities do we look for?

Casting A Wider Net

Over time, as our organization evolved and as the capital markets we serve have become broader and more complex, our process of identifying candidates has expanded and improved.

In the earlier history of the FAF, we looked to the groups and individuals who were instrumental in the founding of the FASB and the FAF (and later, the GASB) as key sources of nominations for the FASB, GASB, Trustees, and advisory group positions. In some cases, such as for the Board of Trustees, certain sponsoring organizations were the primary source of nominations of candidates for specific seats.
We think it is important to ensure that our search for talent is open to as wide and diverse a pool of candidates as possible.

Since then, we have expanded our outreach to a broader number of stakeholder groups. These groups continue to be excellent sources of strong candidates who are very familiar with the organization, are actively engaged in the accounting standard-setting process, and understand the requirements and demands of the various roles.

We think it is important to ensure that our search for talent is open to as wide and diverse a pool of candidates as possible. For many of our searches, such as for FASB and GASB members, we partner with leading executive search firms. Working with a search firm not only helps make our search process more efficient and effective; it also broadens the network of possible candidates.

In other words, we are better able to identify candidates that have backgrounds and perspectives we might otherwise miss. These candidates may not have directly engaged with the FASB and GASB through a stakeholder group or served on an advisory group—but they are passionate about high quality accounting standards.

Throughout the years, we have used our website as a venue for requesting nominations for some roles, such as PCC members. To further expand our outreach to potential candidates, we’ve decided to broaden that effort. Most recently we launched a webpage that describes the types of backgrounds, skills, and characteristics we look for when recruiting potential candidates. And we currently have active searches underway for new Trustees and a FASB member.

By identifying and implementing new approaches, we continue to build a strong and diverse pipeline of candidates. Building a talent bench is especially important to an organization like ours because of the natural turnover from term limits and the need for diverse personal and professional backgrounds.

Extraordinary Qualities We Are Seeking

First and foremost, the Trustees strive to ensure that the standard-setting Boards and advisory groups (and the Trustees themselves) comprise a balance of perspectives.

Common to all roles is the commitment to the mission of our organization and to serving in the public interest. Clearly, given the nature of our organization, candidates must have a strong interest in financial accounting and reporting. We also seek candidates with uncompromising values, integrity, and character.
The best accounting standards emerge in an environment where people can apply their professional expertise and diverse points of view.

Depending on the specific role, technical proficiency in accounting is important—particularly for the FASB and GASB member roles and some of the advisory groups such as the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council (FASAC). More broadly, however, we look for candidates who are open-minded, independent thinkers who can contribute to group consensus building and decision-making. We seek out candidates who are willing to understand the varying interests and perspectives of financial statement users, preparers, and auditors. We need individuals who are good communicators and good listeners, with the ability to build relationships and interact with a wide range of stakeholders.

In certain circumstances, such as serving on an advisory group, a particular set of skills or specific background can provide immense value to the standard-setting process. For example, Private Company Council (PCC) candidates should have a strong background and high level of experience in private company financial accounting and reporting. Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council (GASAC) candidates should possess high awareness of the current state and local government financial reporting environment.

The best accounting standards emerge in an environment where people can apply their professional expertise and diverse points of view. The FAF Board of Trustees, who make the critical decisions about people and process in our organization, set this stage by continually searching for new ways to attract and retain these extraordinary people. We can’t be successful without your involvement.

I welcome your comments on this or any other topic. Please write to me at

FAF President and Chief Executive Officer