From the President’s Desk

March 2011

In this season of March Madness, I thought it would be timely to talk about how the FAF, FASB, and GASB interact with the academic community—both students and faculty. Education is an important aspect of the FAF’s mission. While we target our educational activities to all of our constituents, in some ways nothing is more important than students and their educators. The students are the future of our profession, and their educators are vested with the fundamental responsibility of preparing the next generation of business and accounting professionals.

One way in which we try to fulfill our educational mission with the academic community is by providing access to the standards. Last summer, the FAF embarked on a joint initiative with the American Accounting Association (AAA) to begin providing the online FASB Accounting Standards Codification® Professional View to faculty and students in accounting programs at post‐secondary academic institutions. The program, Academic Accounting Access, has been a success both here in the U.S. and overseas. We have more than 875 U.S. institutions participating, with 50,000 average monthly log-ins. We believe it’s important for today’s students to learn about accounting standards and how to research issues in U.S. GAAP. And we want to provide faculty with the tools they need to not only facilitate teaching, but also to encourage research that ultimately might be helpful and informative to the standard-setting process. I hope you’ll take a moment to read more details about this program in a special update article on this site.

Another welcome layer of FAF involvement with academia stems from the many accounting students who visit FAF headquarters every year. Accounting professors reach out to us about classroom visits to the FAF, FASB, and GASB, as part of their “road trips” to learn more about financial reporting and the capital markets. The FAF is usually one stop in an array of key financial visits that might also include stops at the SEC or the New York Stock Exchange. We often try to schedule requests to visit when the FASB or the GASB are meeting in public sessions. Schedules permitting, we arrange special education sessions with the students that include a chance to speak with board members and senior staff. I’ve been very impressed with the caliber of the students we see—the questions they ask demonstrate a keen interest in what we do.

The FAF, FASB, and GASB also offer a postgraduate technical assistant program—a stepping stone, if you will, between graduation and a career in accounting and financial reporting. In this highly competitive program, participating students become directly involved with the accounting standard-setting process and are assigned to project teams, where they might help analyze written comments received on Exposure Drafts, prepare memos for Board members’ deliberations, or draft due process documents. The students stay on for a one-year term, after which they typically move on to careers in accounting or finance. Periodically, we conduct a forum with “graduates” of the program, and it’s instructive to follow their career successes. It emphasizes the importance of our outreach to the academic community, because, as I stated earlier, the students eventually help pave the future of our profession. It’s great to have a kind of “full cycle” involvement with students, not only seeing them at the beginning of the “career curve,” but also, by staying in touch, tracking their professional growth.

Of course, learning never stops, and our educational mission never ends. The FAF will certainly have more work ahead with the academic community and all constituents, with the goal of meeting educational challenges as best as we can. Please feel free to send me an email with your suggestions on how we can improve upon what we do in this area.

And given that we are located in Norwalk, Connecticut, with the Big East tournament over and the NCAA teams announced—I can’t resist. Go UConn Huskies!


   

FAF President and Chief Executive Officer