SEC’s Top Accountant Role Left Vacant Ahead Of Standard Changes

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As the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) readies to implement sweeping changes in accounting standards, the agency’s top accounting role has been left vacant.

Reports in Bloomberg Tax on Tuesday (June 4) said the SEC first announced last week that its Chief Accountant Wes Bricker will depart from the position. He led the agency’s adoption of two new accounting standards, as well as preparations for the introduction of a third. Bricker also led the leadership changes for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

According to Heidi Bartholomew, a University of Pittsburgh professor and former FedEx Group controller and financial reporting executive, the position is a critical one for the accounting profession.

“The person who sits in that chair at the SEC by definition just has to be one of the most important accountants, not just in the country,” she told the publication. “The rest of the world looks to us.”

Bricker declined to inform reporters of his next move. The SEC has appointed Sagar Teotia as acting chief until Bricker’s replacement is found.

According to Scott Taub, who twice served as acting chief accountant at the SEC, Bricker’s successor will likely face less pressure managing just one accounting standard change.

“The challenge of managing change in accounting standards will probably be lower for the next chief accountant than it was for Wes because there will be less change to manage,” he noted.

But that doesn’t mean Bricker’s successor’s job will be easy. The upcoming accounting standard change applies to how banks and insurers calculate losses on loans, reports noted, a controversial move that has been met with backlash by the banking industry and members of Congress. The next chief accountant will also have to lead a change in auditing standards that requires an extended audit report of annual financial statements.

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