Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Meet the experts and Jack, the Ripper

The conference started Monday morning. It was called "Meet the experts" and for once, this was really true. The speakers were top!

Robert Herz was there. He is chairman of the FASB, the American standard setting body for SEC listed companies. This is argueably the most powerful and prestigous job in the accounting profession. Probably not the best paid one. But to become chairman of the FASB you have to look back on a brilliant career and do not need to worry about money, I guess. Another speaker was James Leisenring, who is a member of the IASB, the international standard setting body. To hear those two was actually already worth the trip.

Wayne Carnall, who used to work for the SEC and is now a partner at PWC, entertained us with the tale of a porn star, Marilyn Starr. The video clip of her work "Marilyn whips Wall Street" he wanted to show us was censored by the prudish Brits (his words, not mine) but he did bring along a picture. Her story served as an example for the SEC enforcement activities. Marilyn was involved in insider information trading, sleeping with two man, who needed to exchange information. And you thought, accounting was dull! In another example Penthouse International was charged with not disclosing enough details. Interesting, given that the magazine's subject matter is one of utmost disclosure. Carnall then played Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock while listing the sentences that CEOs and CFOs (eg of ENRON) have received in the USA over the last couple of years. Some have gone to prison for longer periods of time than you get for murder here in Germany. Should I tell my boss about this? He is the CFO of our group.

In the evening I decided to go on the Jack, the Ripper walk instead of the cocktail reception. I can take only so much of accountants per day. Unfortunately hundereds of other people had the same idea, especially since it was Halloween. But although the group was huge, it was a very good walk. Highly recommendable!


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