Peeling away financial reporting issues one layer at a time

Welcome to the Accounting Onion

Welcome to the class—whoops, I meant The Accounting Onion.  Before you read my posts, you may want to read this frank and deeply touching tale of my personal journey to accounting blogdom.

I graduated from the Cornell Hotel School in 1973, but as I approached the time where I was supposed to snag a job in the hospitality industry, the traditional career paths open to ‘hotelies’ just didn’t feel right.  Following a series of lackluster job interviews, I made an appointment with the assistant dean, an impetuous and avuncular fellow, to seek his advice.  Within ten minutes, he offered me a position to teach accounting and finance at a 2-year junior college that Cornell was running for the tourism authority of Puerto Rico.  Career-wise, it was the luckiest day of my life.

Here’s the next 43 years in a nutshell.  I quickly found that I loved teaching, and two years later, I entered graduate school.  I have taught accounting more or less continuously since taking the Puerto Rico job: at Cornell, Ohio State, Dartmouth, Wake Forest, MIT, Thunderbird, and for the last three years as a visitor at SMU.  Even though I consider myself semi-retired, I seem to be busier (and happier) than ever:

  • I have lead and produced approximately 250 management education programs in 14 countries.  The CPE from Me section of the blog lists the courses that I currently offer “off the shelf”.
  • I continue to provide consulting services to companies on matters including SEC compliance, U.S. GAAP, international accounting standards, operational and strategic decision making, and control of international operations.
  • I continue to serve as an expert witness and provide litigation support on a broad range of accounting topics, including foreign accounting standards and valuation.
  • I currently serve on the Standing Advisory Group of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.  I recently finished a 3-year stint on the AICPA’s o Financial Accounting and Reporting Subcommittee for the CPA Examination.
  • In 2002, I co-founded Grove Technologies, LLC, producer of easy-to-use, hosted, web-based collaboration tools. Our flagship product is GroveSite (www.grovesite.com), and our clients range from SMBs to our niche specialty — retail chains like Target Stores, Petco, Restoration Hardware and Jo-Ann Fabrics.

So, why have I become a blogger?  Frankly, blogging has emerged as an important way for independent professionals to gain exposure that could lead to opportunity.  Indeed, blogging has not only provided me with professional opportunities, it has given me a new voice that I have tried to use in the service of the public’s interest in high quality financial reporting.  I know that financial reporting is often unnecessarily complex and far from perfect. From my years of teaching, I also learned how to peel away layers of jargon and complexity to expose what lies at the core of an accounting rule: sometimes a valid concept, and other times an unpleasant surprise.

As of this latest update to my “welcome page,” The Accounting Onion is just a few months short of nine years old.  In that time, I have published 324 posts of roughly 1,000 words each.  I sincerely hope that something in The Accounting Onion makes a difference for you.

Tom.Selling@GroveSite.com