Edmund Jenkins

Financial Reporting Reformer to Head FASB

The Financial Accounting Foundation chose Edmund L. Jenkins as the fourth chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. His five-year term began July 1.

Jenkins is well known to the financial accounting community as chairman of the American Institute of CPAs special committee on financial reporting (the Jenkins committee), which released its 1994 report, Improving Business Reporting—A Customer Focus . He recently retired as managing partner of Arthur Andersen Worldwides professional standards group. He also had been managing partner of Andersens accounting and audit practice, with responsibility for the firms practice before the Securities and Exchange Commission. Jenkins is not entirely new to the FASB, having served as a charter member of the emerging issues task force from 1984 to 1991 and as a member of the FASBs advisory council from 1991 to 1995.

His work is cut out for him
Jenkins is enthusiastic about the special committees work. I believe the recommendations deserve full due process consideration by the FASB, the SEC and other standard setters, he told the Journal . "Over time I expect the board to consider the recommendations, including placing some nonfinancial information within the FASBs scope of operations." However, Jenkins does not plan to move the recommendations to the top of the FASBs agenda. "Well consider the report in relation to other FASB priorities."

In fact, the board has a full agenda as it is. Jenkins started work in the middle of a drawn-out discussion on derivatives. "In terms of strong interest on the part of the boards constituencies, derivatives probably heads the list of key issues. Id like to meet the deadline for completion, but if the project is not ready to be finalized, I am not willing to shortcut the process just to follow the schedule."

Also a high priority is international comparability of standards, according to Jenkins. The FASBs objective to support the development of high-quality international standards is crucial.

"Im very enthusiastic about the opportunity to lead the FASB at this important time."

Confidence within the community
Jenkins immediate predecessor, Dennis Beresford, praised the FAFs decision. "Hes an outstanding individual—I think hell be a popular choice in many different camps. My advice has always been, Dont follow my advice or anyone elses; be your own person. Im sure he will be. Im proud to be succeeded by someone of his stature." David B. Kaplan, incoming chairman of the AICPA accounting standards executive committee, said, He is very well respected by the standard-setting community. I certainly look forward to working with him closely.

Robert L. Israeloff, past AICPA board chairman, worked with Jenkins as a member of the special committee. "Jenkins is low key but in control of the situation, strong willed but a consensus builder. He listens to everyone and doesnt take sides until hes heard all the facts. Its an effective style."


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