GASB Practice Fellow Program
The GASB Practice Fellow Program is an opportunity for manager, senior manager, or director level public accountants to actively participate in the financial accounting standards-setting process. Practice Fellow candidates who are nominated by their firms are expected to be considered for partnership within a few years of completing their practice fellow program. Candidates should have a minimum of eight years of experience. The Practice Fellows commit to a two-year program at the GASB with the understanding that they will return to their firms at the end of that period.
NATURE OF RESPONSIBILITIES
The Practice Fellow’s role is to act as a project manager working as part of a project team, with involvement on short-term and major long-term projects, and also focusing on implementation and emerging practice problems. This means making recommendations to the Board on technical issues, developing and drafting accounting standards, and leading discussions at meetings of the Board and the Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council. Practice Fellows research problems and analyze comments from government report preparers, auditors, and financial statement users that form the GASB’s stakeholders. During a two-year program at the GASB, a Practice Fellow will typically manage a variety of projects, act as a consultant on others, and answer numerous questions about the application of the GASB standards posed by preparers, auditors, and financial statement users.
BENEFITS OF THE FELLOWS PROGRAM
For the Individual … the most obvious benefit is that Practice Fellows broaden their knowledge of accounting and financial reporting. But more important, perhaps, is the opportunity to enhance their communications and problem-solving skills and to stimulate their creativity. In working through the Board’s decision process, they are called upon to formulate solutions and present them in a concise and convincing manner. The recommendations they develop and present to the Board will be challenged by Board members who have diverse views and by stakeholders with divided opinions. Practice Fellows have found that this experience contributes greatly to their individual professional development and strengthens the self-confidence needed to handle difficult client situations.
Practice Fellows work in a team environment directly with the GASB members and staff as well as its stakeholder groups. This means frequent contact with recognized experts and professionals in public accounting and government—as well as organizations such as the Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council, the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board, the AICPA’s State and Local Government Expert Panel, and various industry groups. Such contacts provide Practice Fellows with valuable research and issue resolution experience on which to draw when confronted with difficult technical issues both at the GASB and later in their careers.
Practice Fellows also have ample opportunity to further develop their oral and written communications skills through speaking engagements and published articles. They lead educational sessions for the Board and staff, negotiate project issues, and learn to successfully communicate the reasons for the staff’s recommended solutions. External communication by Practice Fellows is important to the GASB because those presentations are an important element of the GASB’s outreach efforts; it is also beneficial to the Practice Fellows by providing added visibility as a professional.
For the Sponsoring Firm … the principal benefits to the sponsoring firm derive from the Practice Fellow’s exposure to key accounting and financial decision makers and from familiarity with the Board’s decision process. Accounting firms benefit from having a returning Practice Fellow who can draw on the “hands-on” experience with standards setting to participate in developing the firm’s position on accounting issues. Practice Fellows have proven to be effective participants at client and firm seminars, presenting unusual insights gained at the GASB. They also contribute to their firms’ training programs and they develop working relationships with GASB members and staff that can be called upon in the future.
Participating in the practice fellow program also supports the firm’s goal of serving the public interest. A well-qualified staff, including Practice Fellows, enhances the standards setting process and results in better standards. These standards lead to improved financial reporting which serves the public interest.
Finally, if a firm provides a well-qualified Practice Fellow for GASB for a two-year term, when that Practice Fellow has successfully completed their term at the GASB, another well-qualified candidate from that firm will be given priority consideration by the FASB for its two-year practice fellow program.
For the GASB … Practice Fellows are important resources for the GASB. They perform a vital role in managing key accounting standards projects. Their recent experience in accounting practice provides the GASB and its staff with a better perspective of the real problems currently being faced by preparers and auditors of financial reports. Practice Fellows also facilitate communications between the Board and its stakeholders.
Candidates should be interested in financial reporting and the GASB standards-setting process. Knowledge and experience in applying authoritative accounting pronouncements, including familiarity with current developments in accounting and financial reporting, are important. Effective communication skills are essential. Because the work is demanding and at times subject to external pressures for timely completion, candidates must be creative, organized and highly motivated.
For each new class of Practice Fellows, we will establish an annual fee for the two-year period to be paid on a monthly basis to the sponsoring firm for a Practice Fellow’s cost of service, to include salary, benefits, cost of living, etc. We will allow for 20 vacation days per year, 5 sick days per year, and 7 days for other absences (relocation, company business, personal) per year. The first and last months of their two-year program will be prorated if necessary. The final monthly payment at the end of the program will be increased for vacation days not used and decreased for excess vacation days, sick days and other absences. This arrangement will enable the firm to keep the Practice Fellow in their employ, continue existing benefits and provide for a simple, orderly administration of the program.
THE NOMINATING PROCESS
The individuals nominated by their firms will be invited to visit the Board for discussions so that both parties have a chance to get acquainted. During this visit the nominees will meet with the Board Chairman; the Director of Research and Technical Activities; Human Resources; current Practice Fellows; and other staff members.
The GASB will make its decision in time for the new Practice Fellows to plan relocation before beginning their program. If you would like further information about the GASB Practice Fellow program, please contact:
Financial Accounting Foundation
401 Merritt 7
P.O. Box 5116
Norwalk, CT 06856-5116