CPA Leads Financial Execs
This month, retiring P. Norman Roy handed the gavel to Phil Livingston, who, at age 41, became the new president of the Financial Executives Institute. Livingston, a CPA and member of the AICPA, brings an eclectic background in business, technology and public accounting to the FEI. Until his new appointment, he was senior vice president and CFO of Catalina Marketing Corp., a $250 million supplier of electronic marketing services. Before that, as CFO of Celestial Seasonings, he managed the IPO of the specialty tea manufacturer, and he's also held positions at Kenetech Corp. and Genentech Inc. He started his accounting career at Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young).
The Journal of Accountancy spoke to Livingston about his plans for the FEI—and the areas where financial management and the CPA designation meet. Of equal concern to both the FEI and the AICPA, for example, are recent SEC initiatives in earnings management and similar accounting issues. "The SEC challenges both financial managers and public accountants," said Livingston. "We support that at the FEI. But we'd like to remind everyone that the United States has a great system, and we hope there isn't too much tinkering with it."
As for the FEI itself, Livingston said his priority is helping busy members in a complex world. "We need to provide compact services for people with little time." He wants to build community through the FEI, especially by using its Web site, www.fei.org. He proposed member forums: "The FEI is a great place to share common problems, and common solutions." Some of those common solutions, in fact, could involve both the AICPA and the FEI—Livingston said he enjoyed sharing ideas with fellow attendees when he was a speaker at the fall 1998 AICPA Industry Conference. He appreciates the value of the designation himself: "Accounting is a great background for financial management—my CPA training gave me a solid grounding in the technical issues of running a business." And if things get tough, Livingston can always turn to skills he learned in his first job out of college—as a member of the 1980-81 Oakland Raiders football team.