Change / transformation Future-ready Legislation / regulation

Podcast: Are our profession’s regulators future-ready?

Over the past year, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about how the accounting and finance profession is changing, but we haven’t spent nearly as much time talking about how those who regulate our profession are changing.

So this week, I sat down with Terri Polley, outgoing president and CEO of the Financial Accounting Foundation. The FAF is an independent, not-for-profit, private-sector organization that is responsible for the oversight of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, or GASB.

In this conversation, we cover:

  • What does the FAF do?
  • How is all of this change and complexity impacting how regulators do their jobs?
  • What does the future of the profession look like from a regulator’s perspective?
  • Are we moving fast enough as a profession?
  • Standards and regulations as hard trends.

Just our luck: Terri Polley is resigning Just three days after I sat down with Terri for an interview, she announced that she will be resigning from her position after spending the past 11 years at the helm of FAF.

No date has been officially set for the end of Polley’s term, although she says she plans to stay on the job until transition plans for her position have been finalized. The exact reasons for her departure are not completely clear, although they seem to coincide with other notable departures among the profession’s regulators.

Michael Cohn from Accounting Today writes that she is just “one of many longtime leaders at the FAF, FASB and GASB who are leaving their roles in the year ahead, echoing a shakeup last year at the auditing firm overseer, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.”

FAF spokesman Matthew Broder says that it’s all about timing.

"Unlike FASB / GASB members and our trustees, the FAF CEO does not work on a specific, time-bound term of office,” Broder told Accounting Today. “Terri’s reason for stepping down was outlined in an internal email. It’s a timing thing, essentially. As you know, the FAF chairman, FASB chairman and GASB chairman are all leaving office in the next 14 months. Terri’s view was that she could leave now alongside these other departures so that the trustees can hire a long-term successor to serve with the other new appointees. ... She has already accomplished much of what she set out to do when she got the top job in 2008, so she opted to give the trustees the opportunity to build the new management team in an integrated way."

And in a separate statement, Polley echoes Broder, saying, “It has been a privilege to work for a mission-driven organization filled with exceptional people who get to do something extraordinary as their life's work: set accounting standards that help make the capital markets function efficiently and effectively.”

So, it turns out my interview isn’t with the president and CEO of FAF after all, but rather with the outgoing president and CEO. But that’s OK. We had a great talk anyway.

And really, I just wanted to get a lay of the land from a regulation perspective: How is all of this change and complexity impacting how they do their jobs, how are things changing for them, and what the future of the profession looks like from their perspective.

And Polley touched on all of that during our conversation. So it was, in retrospect, a treat to be able to speak with her before she officially steps down. I’m glad we had a chance to get together and have this chat.

Listen to our conversation here.





William D. Sheridan