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Accounting Profession



The 103rd American Assembly November 13-15, 2003 Lansdowne Resort Leesburg, Virginia The American Assembly Columbia University

The American Assembly Columbia University “The Future of the Accounting Profession” American Assembly Report 103rd American Assembly Preface On November 13, 2003, fifty-seven men and women, including leaders from theworlds of accounting, finance, law, academia, investment banking, journalism, non-governmental organizations, as well as the current and former regulatory officials from The Federal Reserve Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and theInternational Accounting Standards Board (IASB) gathered at the Lansdowne Resort, Leesburg, Virginia, for the 103rd American Assembly entitled “The Future of the Accounting Profession.” Over the course of the Assembly, the distinguished professionals considered three broad areas of the accounting profession: its present state, its desired future state, and how it might reach that future state. ThisAssembly project was co-directed by Roderick M. Hills, Partner, Hills & Stern, and former Chairman of the SEC, and Russell E. Palmer, CEO, The Palmer Group, former CEO, Touche Ross & Co. Initiated by the co-directors in fall 2000, this project showed an extraordinary prescience of the material events that subsequently unfolded. The project benefited greatly from the advice and active guidance of aneminent steering committee, whose names and affiliations are listed in the appendix of this report. In preparation for the national meeting, a volume of background material was compiled by the co-directors with assistance from Roman Weil, V. Duane Rath Professor of Accounting, University of Chicago. This material included papers by Mr. Weil and Kathleen Fitzgerald, lecturer at the University ofChicago Law School; George J. Benston, John H. Harland Professor of Finance Accounting, and Economics at Emory University; an address by Arthur R. Wyatt, Adjunct Professor of Accountancy at the University of Illinois College of Business; and an article from The Economist magazine. The participants were also provided with a set of detailed questions to guide their discussions during the Assembly. Thiscritical component was prepared by Katherine Schipper, Board Member, FASB, with assistance from Ralph C. Ferrara, among others. During the 103rd American Assembly, participants heard two keynote addresses, from William H. Donaldson, Chairman of the SEC and Professor Weil, which provided background and informed their discussions. Russell

Palmer moderated a panel discussion among Shaun F.O’Malley, Chairman Emeritus of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ray J. Groves, former CEO of Ernst & Young, and James E. Copeland, former CEO of Deloitte & Touche. Paul A. Volcker, Chairman of the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation, moderated a panel amongst Robert H. Herz, Chair of the FASB; Tom Jones, Vice Chairman of the IASB; Stanley Fischer, Vice Chair, Citigroup; and William McDonough,Chairman and CEO of the PCAOB. On November 15th, the participants reviewed and amended as a group an outline of this report, which contains their findings and recommendations. This report is available on the Accounting project’s web page on The American Assembly’s web site ( along with reports from The Assembly’s other projects. Visitors to the website can also view some ofthe background reading distributed to the participants. The American Assembly gratefully acknowledges the support of The Starr Foundation, Roderick and Carla Hills, The Palmer Group, The New York Stock Exchange Foundation (NYSE), The ChevronTexaco Corporation, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Charles Munger, the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, the GE Fund, Sol Price, Marsh Inc., and an anonymous donor....
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