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SEC Names Beswick Top Accountant

Compliance Week | December 21, 2012

Paul Beswick will take over the top accounting job at the Securities and Exchange Commission, after five years in a variety of accounting policy assignments at the agency.

Beswick had already been acting chief accountant since July, and was deputy chief accountant before that. His appointment is the first significant permanent personnel move made by new SEC Chairman Elisse Walter, who took the reins earlier this month. Since then she has seen a spate of senior staffers depart (including, reportedly, enforcement chief Robert Khuzami), but has made only a few interim replacements.

The SEC's Office of the Chief Accountant is responsible for establishing and enforcing accounting and auditing policy, and for improving the professional performance of public company auditors to ensure that financial statements used for investment decisions are presented fairly and have credibility.

Beswick joined the SEC staff in September 2007 has held several positions in the Office of the Chief Accountant. Most notably, he was one of the agency's lead staffers exploring how and whether the SEC should adopt International Financial Reporting Standards for U.S. public filers. The SEC staff published its final report on the feasibility of that idea earlier this year. While Walter and her fellow commissioners would make any final decision on that point, the SEC currently has no plans to take up the question and all tea leaves point to IFRS adoption not happening any time soon.

Beswick was a partner with Ernst & Young, where he worked in the firm's Professional Practice and Risk Management Group. He also served as a practice fellow at the Financial Accounting Standards Board, where he assisted in the development of accounting guidance related to evolving accounting issues.