The Financial Accounting Foundation’s board of trustees has named Russell G. Golden as the next chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, succeeding Leslie Seidman, whose term will end on June 30.

Golden has served as a member of FASB since September 2010 and will become chairman on July 1. He previously served for six years on the FASB staff, and before that was a partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP.

“In the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of working closely and cooperatively with my talented and dedicated colleagues on the FASB,” Golden said in a statement. “I’m honored that I’ve been asked to continue that work as FASB chairman. As we address the many critical issues facing the FASB in the coming months, I’ll strive to ensure that we meet the high standard set by Leslie Seidman. That means putting the interests of investors first; working to make financial reporting as clear, transparent and useful as possible; and never losing sight of the balance between costs and benefits.”

Golden will be taking over the chairmanship of FASB at a sensitive time for the board. The convergence effort with the International Accounting Standards Board has slowed as the Securities and Exchange Commission has hesitated to approve the use of International Financial Reporting Standards by U.S.-based companies. A new chair of the SEC has recently been approved as well, former prosecutor Mary Jo White, but her position on IFRS remains unknown.

As FASB chairman, Golden will be involved with the recently launched Private Company Council, which is going to help FASB decide when differences in accounting standards should be allowed for privately held companies.

“I believe the PCC is off and running and is doing an absolutely fantastic job,” Golden said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “The members of the PCC and the chairman are extremely committed to working through with the board improvements to private company accounting standards, and I believe that will be a great step forward to produce more relevant and more cost-efficient standards to the private company community.”

Asked about whether the PCC’s work might cause more differences in accounting standards for FASB and the IASB, Golden pointed to the decision-making framework under development at the PCC and FASB (see FASB Previews Framework for Deciding on Accounting Standards Changes for Private Companies). “Recently the board and the PCC exposed for public comment a decision-making framework that talks about the differences for user needs as well as the typical resources that a private company has, and would help guide both the PCC and the FASB as to whether there should be differences between that of a private company and a public company,” he said.

“Clearly, depending on the project that we’re working on, there may or may not be differences, but I think that guide that has been put out for public comment is a very useful tool to help the board and the PCC determine if there should be differences between public companies and private companies.”

Golden was also asked about the prospects for approval of IFRS by the SEC now that a new chairman has been approved for the SEC. “I watched Chairman White’s confirmation hearing and I don’t believe she obtained any questions as it related to convergence,” he said. “What I believe is important that both the FASB and the IASB remain committed to working through the projects and remain committed to coming up with improved converged solutions.”

The Financial Accounting Foundation, which oversees FASB, conducted a search for a successor to Seidman, but ultimately settled on another member of FASB. Seidman had also been a member of the FASB board when she succeeded former chairman Robert Herz on Dec. 23, 2010.

“After an extensive search, which involved the evaluation of many highly qualified candidates from a variety of backgrounds, the Trustees determined that Russ Golden is the best qualified person to take on the role of FASB chairman,” said Jeffrey J. Diermeier, chairman of the FAF Board of Trustees, in a statement. “I’m very pleased that Russ will be moving into this new role. He will bring to his new position a deep understanding of technical accounting issues informed by a broad appreciation of the larger environment in which the FASB operates, which he developed during his years as both a staff member and as a board member.

“The trustees wish to express their deep appreciation to Leslie Seidman for her more than 15 years of service to the FASB as a staff member, board member and chairman,” Diermeier added. She has set a high standard as a champion of excellence and independence. During Leslie’s tenure, she worked tirelessly to improve U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and to dramatically reduce the differences between U.S. GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards.”

Golden’s initial term as FASB chairman will extend to June 30, 2017. At that time, he will be eligible to serve another term of three years. FASB members are limited to serving 10 years on the board, which is why Seidman’s term ended only about two and a half years as chair.

Golden served as technical director of the FASB from 2008 to September 2010, overseeing FASB staff work on standards-level projects, including both major projects and technical application and implementation activities. He also chaired the FASB’s Emerging Issues Task Force 

Previously, Golden was director of technical application and implementation activities for FASB. Appointed to that position in July 2007, Golden managed FASB activities relating to the application and implementation of accounting standards and other board pronouncements.

“In his years serving on the board and earlier on the FASB staff, Russ always has put great emphasis on understanding and engaging with investors and taking their issues and concerns into account during the decision-making process,” FAF president and CEO Teresa S. Polley said of Golden. “At this historic moment, all of us at the FAF look forward to working with Russ and our new GASB chair, David Vaudt, to build on the important work of their predecessors.”

Prior to joining the FASB as a senior technical advisor in 2004, Golden was a partner at Deloitte & Touche’s National Office Accounting Services department. In that role, he was responsible for providing timely and accurate accounting consultations to partners and clients throughout the United States and globally. Previously, Golden held various positions within Deloitte. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Washington State University and is a licensed CPA in the states of Washington and Connecticut.

Reactions
The American Institute of CPAs welcomed the news of Golden's appointment. “The Institute is pleased that Russ Golden has been selected by the FAF to be the next chair of the Financial Accounting Standards Board," said AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon in a statement. "Russ has been a true thought leader and in his time with the FASB has demonstrated a total commitment to improving financial reporting, which ultimately serves the public interest. We congratulate Russ and look forward to working with him.”

The Center for Audit Quality also issued a statement congratulating Golden on his appointment. “The public company auditing profession and the CAQ wish to congratulate Russell Golden on being named the next chairman of the FASB,” CAQ executive director Cindy Fornelli said in a statement. “A member of the accounting profession who previously served on the FASB’s staff before being appointed to the Board in 2010, Russ has an ideal combination of technical knowledge and perspective on the big picture to serve investors and the public interest. We look forward to working with Russ in his new role. We would also like to thank outgoing Chairman Leslie Seidman for her many contributions to investors, the auditing profession and the capital markets. First as a member of the Board, and now as Chairman, Leslie has consistently demonstrated her commitment to investors by pursuing high quality accounting standards that are responsive to investors’ changing information needs. We commend Leslie on her accomplishments at the FASB and wish her well in her future endeavors.”

In addition, Financial Executives International hailed Golden’s appointment. "FEI would like to applaud the board of trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation’s appointment of Russell G. Golden as the FASB’s next chairman,” said FEI president and CEO Marie Hollein. “We believe Golden’s broad experience and deep knowledge obtained during his years in various senior staff positions with FASB, including serving as key liaison with regulators and constituents and as a FASB board member, will serve him well in his new position. We are confident that in his new role Golden will do an outstanding job leading the board’s efforts in existing and future projects. We look forward to continuing our work with him and the wealth of insights and expertise he will bring to the board as chairman.”

IASB chairman Hans Hoogervorst commented, "Russ is an excellent choice to serve as chairman of the FASB. He commands great respect among all of our Board members. I would also like to place on record my thanks to Leslie Seidman and wish her well in the future."