The Securities and Exchange Commission has named James Schnurr, a former vice chairman at Big Four firm Deloitte, as chief accountant.

Schnurr took up his new post in October, replacing Paul Beswick, who joined the SEC staff in September 2007 and has served as chief accountant since 2012.

"Jim's broad expertise in accounting, reporting, and risk management will help foster investor confidence by holding companies accountable for their financial reporting requirements," SEC Chairman Mary Jo White said in a statement. "His deep knowledge of accounting and auditing standards coupled with his extensive experience interacting with regulators and accounting and auditing standard-setters will be invaluable to the commission."

The SEC's Office of the Chief Accountant is responsible for establishing and enforcing accounting and auditing policy as well as improving the professional performance of public company auditors. The office works to enhance the transparency and relevancy of financial reporting and ensure that financial statements are presented fairly and have credibility.

"I am honored to join the commission staff to further the protection of investors in our capital markets," Schnurr said in a statement. "I look forward to working with the commissioners and the commission's talented staff to ensure that companies are providing accurate and complete financial information and that auditors are upholding the public trust in providing assurance to investors about that information."

Schnurr recently retired from Big Four firm Deloitte LLP, where he was vice chairman and senior professional practice director and specialized in financial and SEC reporting for public companies. He began his career at Deloitte in 1975 and became a partner in 1985. Schnurr was a senior partner for mergers and acquisition services from 1994 to 2002 and a deputy managing partner of the firm's professional practice from 2002 to 2009 where he was responsible for quality control and risk management of the firm's audit and advisory services.

He also has served on various working and advisory groups of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and the American Institute of CPAs. Schnurr earned his undergraduate degree from the College of the Holy Cross and his MBA from Rutgers University.

 

WARM WELCOME

Several accounting organizations issued statements praising Schnurr's selection.

"The Financial Accounting Foundation and its standard-setting boards, the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, extend their congratulations to James Schnurr on his selection as chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission," said FAF president and chief executive officer Teresa Polley in a statement. "Mr. Schnurr has an extensive background in working with the SEC and other important accounting organizations on key accounting, financial reporting and auditing issues. During the course of his distinguished career, he has demonstrated a commitment to interpret and apply standards in a manner that promotes the transparency, quality and usefulness of financial reporting. We at the FAF, the FASB and the GASB look forward to working with Mr. Schnurr in his new role."

"Financial Executives International congratulates Jim Schnurr on his appointment as SEC Chief Accountant. Mr. Schnurr's distinguished career in audit and related services, as well as his technical and leadership skills will be of great benefit to all of the SEC's constituents," added FEI president and CEO Marie Hollein. "As a professional association representing the interests of more than 10,000 chief financial officers, treasurers, controllers, tax directors, and other senior-level financial executives from over 8,000 major companies throughout the U.S., FEI has had an opportunity to collaborate with Mr. Schnurr through our conferences, liaison meetings, working groups and other educational programs over the past decade. We look forward to working with him in his new role and providing support for the SEC through our committees and our research affiliate ... . We also thank the current chief accountant, Paul Beswick, for his service."

Cindy Fornelli, executive director of the Center for Audit Quality, also issued a statement of support. "During his extensive career in the accounting and auditing profession, Jim has made significant contributions on many important initiatives through his work with the CAQ's Professional Practice Executive Committee," she said. "As the SEC's new chief accountant, he will bring a valuable understanding of the regulatory and standard-setting process and expertise in risk management, which will benefit investors and the public company auditing profession. The CAQ welcomes the opportunity to work with Jim to help ensure that companies are providing accurate and complete financial information that is so critical to the effective functioning of our capital markets."

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