Paul Beswick, who has served as chief accountant in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the Chief Accountant, plans to leave the agency to return to the private sector.

Beswick previously worked for Ernst & Young before joining the SEC, but the SEC did not say Thursday who Beswick’s future employer will be. Beswick plans to remain for a transitional period to help ensure continuity in the Office of the Chief Accountant. His deputy chief accountant is Daniel Murdock, but the SEC did not say Thursday whether he will be appointed to succeed Beswick.

“I have truly been fortunate to serve as chief accountant under two chairs and alongside the talented and highly dedicated staff in the Office of the Chief Accountant,” Beswick said in a statement. “Throughout my service at the Commission, the staff of the Office of the Chief Accountant has faced many challenges and opportunities.  I have been continually impressed with how they rise to the occasion in the interest of investors and the U.S. capital markets.  I will miss the many relationships I have developed throughout the commission during my service.”

Beswick has served as the SEC’s chief accountant since 2012, succeeding James Kroeker, who is now vice chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board.  Beswick joined the SEC staff in September 2007 as senior advisor to the chief accountant and later was named deputy chief accountant of the OCA’s accounting group, which is responsible for resolving accounting practice issues, rulemaking, and oversight of private sector standard-setting. 

Beswick also served as deputy chief accountant for the OCA’s professional practice group, which has lead responsibility for auditor independence and interactions with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

Among other accomplishments, during his six-year tenure at the SEC, Beswick served as staff director for the SEC Staff’s Work Plan for the Consideration of Incorporating International Financial Reporting Standards into the Financial Reporting System for U.S. Issuers, which concluded with the publication of the SEC Staff Final Report.

The question of whether the SEC will ultimately allow U.S. companies to file their financial statements in IFRS has remained an open issue since the publication of that final staff report in July 2012. Beswick recently told accountants at a conference in New York that it’s still a priority for the SEC, though he acknowledged that it’s a “very complicated issue” (see FASB Anticipates Revenue Recognition Standard Release This Month). Beswick has also been credited with coining the term “condorsement” in describing a possible approach the SEC might use in allowing use of IFRS, a combination of convergence and endorsement.

Beswick has also advised the SEC on the accounting and professional practice implications of numerous commission rulemakings and initiatives, including those required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS, Act. He helped lead the preparation of the congressionally mandated Study on Mark-to-Market Accounting. Beswick also worked closely with the SEC’s Advisory Committee on Improvements to Financial Reporting.

"Paul’s leadership, critical analysis and sound judgment earned him the respect and admiration of his colleagues and staff,” SEC Chair Mary Jo White said in a statement.  “He has been an invaluable asset to our accounting and auditing program.  I will miss his wise counsel and insight."

Before joining the SEC staff, Mr. Beswick was a partner with Ernst & Young LLP, where he worked in the firm's Professional Practice and Risk Management Group.  He also served as a practice fellow at the Financial Accounting Standards Board, where he assisted in the development of accounting guidance on evolving accounting issues. Beswick is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Center for Audit Quality executive director Cindy Fornelli issued a statement in response to the announcement. “During his tenure at the SEC, Paul Beswick has been a leader on many key initiatives impacting investors and our capital markets, including an important study on mark-to-market accounting and implementation of the myriad rulemakings mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act," she said. “The public company auditing profession recognizes Paul for his exemplary leadership and service, and we wish him well in his new endeavors.”

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