I have been in residence at the FASB for one week and I must admit that my head is spinning with all the opportunities to get involved. I want to do them all! It’s been quite a first week. The day after I arrived Bob Herz announced his retirement effective September 30th — I hope the correlation between my arrival and Bob’s departure is purely spurious.

If you google “Bob Herz retires” you’ll have over 900,000 hits. Shortly after I arrived here, I was presented with a document that included the following: “be mindful that FAF is an independent, internationally recognized non-profit organization whose mission, activities, and operations have a profound impact beyond the confines of the organization.” I’ve studied and taught these impacts for 30 years. Now it seems that I can actually feel the reverberations. It’s a privilege to be in the midst of a 160 person staff and board with so much influence, intelligence, positive energy, and professionalism.

My first objective is to get a sense of the status of each of the FASB’s 13 projects actively in process. Watch these blog pages for announcements of round tables with project managers of several of these projects in the near future. The roundtables will update you on the status and issues and give you an opportunity to ask questions related to technical aspects of the projects and ideas for informative academic research.

I decided to start with the Financial Statement Presentation (FSP) project. In July 2010, both the IASB and FASB staffs posted “staff drafts” of an exposure draft at their individual websites. You can find the FASB’s 150-page document here. Interestingly, paragraphs BC28 through BC31 of the “basis for conclusions” section refers to a FASRI experimental study that “influenced the FASB’s decision to require entities with more than one reportable segment to present disaggregated by-function and by-nature information together in their segment note.” You can read more about this study on the FASRI WebPages.

So, academic research can make a difference. And more remains to be done. A major difference between the IASB and FASB exposure drafts pertains to the segment reporting information referred to in the paragraph above. In particular, the FASB requires by-nature reporting to vary across segments according to the manner in which management makes decisions regarding the activities of each segment. The IASB proposal requires segment by-nature reporting to conform to the disaggregation for the entity as a whole, precluding variation across segments. In addition to the research cited above, archival research such as work by Christine Botosan, Susan McMahon and Mary Stanford (2009 Working paper) discussed on the FASRI WebPages should have an impact on whether and how convergence of the IASB and FASB financial statement presentation standards eventually converge.

More generally, perhaps we can begin a discussion on these WebPages of major differences between IASB and FASB proposals and between current IFRS and U.S. GAAP. This discussion might fruitfully aim toward developing more academic research with the potential to influence the way in which FASB and IASB policy statements ultimately converge.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own and do not represent positions of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Positions of the FASB are arrived at only after extensive due process and deliberations.