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Greetings from Alter Hall! Here is your Fall 2018 Footnotes from Fox. What have the students, faculty, and our alumni been up to? We search out and dispense the news about department doings to our loyal readers.

We begin with a story about data visualization and analytics. Under the guidance of our departmental curriculum committee, headed by Professor Elizabeth Gordon, we are refurbishing our courses to incorporate career-relevant training. MAcc students work on a case that requires they use Tableau to illustrate visually the whys of decision-making. Undergraduate auditing students have been trained in ACL software. Successful completion of the work they’re given leads to Data Analyst Level I Certification.

Speaking of Elizabeth Gordon, she was chosen to lead the 2019 New Faculty Consortium by the American Accounting Association. Over 130 Assistant Professors assemble bearing newly-minted PhD degrees, to be initiated and acculturated by over 30 senior faculty between January 31 and February 3, 2019 at the Lansdowne Resort and Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia,  a convention center in Virginia.

The Fox School Department of Accounting is honored to have been chosen as the newest home for the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) Student Center for the Public Trust (StudentCPT). This group focuses on ethical decision making and leadership. The group hosts speakers who come to share their experiences dealing with challenges related to ethics in corporate settings.

Our next story reports on the honors, research accomplishments, and recognition afforded three of our number: Professors Jayanthi Krishnan, Sheri Risler and Cory Ng. In an article in the Pennsylvania CPA Journal, Cory and Sheri discuss how they developed their data visualization courses, referred to above. 

In late September, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Management Accountants hosted a panel discussion on how technology is impacting accounting and auditing. About 60 students—plus a number of faculty including yours truly—attended the event, held in the “Egg” on the first floor of Alter Hall.

We welcome SIX new members to the leadership group—the Accounting Circle Executive Committee—that guides the Department of Accounting. Who might they be? Read the piece and find out! PLUS, the other six communiqués we prepared for your illumination await your attention.

Before I quit, let me remind you that—if you know of a Fox Accounting graduate young or old, just starting or winding up a distinguished career—use the link in the Accounting Achievement Awards advertisement to submit your nomination. I hope you will be able to attend the May 1, 2019 awards banquet, where the honorees will be honored

As is ever the case, you get full disclosure when you read Footnotes from Fox. 

Signature of Eric Press

In keeping with current trends, the Department of Accounting has spent the last year evaluating the curriculum for opportunities to include emerging technologies such as data analytics into the its course work. Part of a long-term project, the department is examining how to incorporate technology into current classes and how to provide additional coursework in these subjects in an effort to better prepare students for careers in the accounting industry.

“It’s changing rapidly and drastically,” Professor Elizabeth Gordon, chair of the department’s curriculum committee, says of the industry. “And so we have to change the way we’re teaching. We’ve gone out and talked with a lot of the accounting firms. We’ve talked with publishers and talked with other teaching resource providers to understand what is available, what’s out there that we can adopt or adapt for our courses as needed.”

Student with Laptop
Student uses new technology in classroom.

Undergraduate students benefit from Accounting Information Systems, a core accounting course, that covers data creation and manipulation, statistical analysis and data management. Students use Access to to explore how to manage and analyze data; the course also includes an introduction to data visualization.

This semester a number of other courses have integrated data analytics and data visualization into the curriculum. Professors Jagan Krishnan and Sheri Risler added an ACL Certified Data Analyst Level 1 Certification to their auditing class. Students learn the process by which data are obtained, cleansed, analyzed and transformed into information using analytic routines. ACL software is used across the accounting industry for fraud detection and prevention.

Professor Cory Ng has incorporated Tableau, an interactive data visualization software, into a graduate level course. Students in the class not only learn how to use the software, but also how to apply it to complex financial and non-financial data and to use it to make intelligent business decisions.

Each student is required to deliver a final project that uses Tableau to visualize a complex data set. The deliverable for this project is a data visualization using an executive dashboard or story point that enables a user to explore the data,” explains Ng. Additionally, students have to prepare a manual on how to use the visualization to explore the data, requiring them to strategically consider the user’s experience.

The goal is not only to teach the students how to use use these tools, but also to teach them how the tools can assist with problem-solving and decision-making. The critical thinking skills developed with these classes will be transferable to many other software programs and real-world situations.

“I firmly believe that students will benefit from developing these skills in their studies and their careers,” say Ng. His students report that they expect to use data visualization in professional settings and that these skills make them more marketable to potential employers.

Professors Risler and Ng discussed the development of their data visualization courses in the Fall 2018 Pennsylvania CPA Journal.

Merves Research Fellow Jayanthi Krishnan was promoted this fall to full professor. Krishnan joined the Department of Accounting in Fall 2000. She teaches cost accounting and intermediate accounting for undergraduate students, and financial and managerial accounting for the school’s MBA programs. Her research interests are in the areas of audit quality, audit regulations and the impact of international diversification on auditor decision-making.

Dr. Jayanthi Krishnan has been named to the Fox School Dean’s Research Honor Roll and has received the Business Honors Association Teacher of the Year Award, 2008 Musser Excellence in Leadership Award for teaching and several other faculty awards. Krishnan is also the recipient of the 2015 American Accounting Association’s Notable Contribution to the Auditing Literature Award for “Audit Committee Quality and Internal Control: An Empirical Analysis,” printed in The Accounting Review. She is an editor of Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, and serves on the editorial boards of The Accounting Review, Accounting Horizons, and Current Issues in Auditing.

Director of the Master of Accountancy program Sheri Risler, CPA was promoted to Associate Professor of Practice this fall. In 2011, Professor Risler was named the Director of the Fox School Master of Accountancy Program. She has received several faculty awards, including the 2009 Beta Alpha Psi Teacher of the Year Award, the 2012 Master of Accountancy Faculty Award, the 2013 Musser Award for Faculty Service and the 2017 Student Professional Organizations Faculty Award.

Professor Risler is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA). Risler was the recipient of the 2016 PICPA Volunteer Service Award. In March 2017, she was appointed to the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy as a board member for a four-year term. Prior to joining the faculty in 1997, she was an Audit Partner with the Philadelphia office of Ernst & Young where she provided a broad range of services to entrepreneurial, middle market and public companies.

Professor Cory Ng, was named a Dean’s Teaching Fellows by the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning for 2018-2019, for his consistent demonstration of innovation and excellence in the classroom. Professor Ng’s professional background as a Certified Public Accountant and as an educator taught him the importance of critical thinking, problem solving, respecting diversity, keeping a global perspective and behaving ethically in the workplace. He is also a Honors Faculty Fellow for 2018-2019 academic year.

Since joining the Department of Accounting in 2015, Ng has developed a new special topics course for the Master of Accountancy program focusing on data visualization using Tableau software. Ng was also the recipient of the Department of Accounting’s Departmental Adjunct Teaching Award for Excellence in the Classroom (2015) and the Student Professional Organization Award (2017). Beyond the Fox School, Ng has published four papers in the Pennsylvania CPA Journal since 2016 and was recently appointed to the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Board of Directors.

More faculty news.

In August 2018, the Department of Accounting hosted over 75 academics for the two-day 100th Anniversary Accounting Conference, bringing together researchers from Finland to Hong Kong. The program featured three keynote addresses and fourteen presentation sessions, and was opened with remarks from the Fox School of Business interim dean Ronald Anderson. The department was especially pleased to welcome back to campus several PhD graduates for the conference and introduced them to the current doctoral students.

Dr. Ray Ball of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business gave the Thursday evening keynote address at dinner in Morgan Hall. His speech was on the criteria for evaluating financial reporting. Also on Thursday, Baruch College’s Dr. Douglas R. Carmichael presented a talk on the challenges facing the accounting profession. Dr. Greg Waymire, of Emory University and Chapman University gave a keynote address on Friday about Adam Smith, the Scottish economist and philosopher and his influence on modern accounting principles.

The Fox School’s Department of Accounting will co-host the 2019 Conference on Convergence of Managerial and Financial Accounting Research with the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business next summer in Lake Louise, Alberta.

Profesor Gordon in classroom at podium
Professor Elizabeth Gordon in the classroom

As chair of the American Accounting Association (AAA) 2019 New Faculty Consortium, Professor Elizabeth Gordon of the Department of Accounting helps support new faculty members during their critical transition from doctoral student to colleague. The annual event brings together over 130 new faculty members and 30 senior faculty members for three-day conference, held this winter in Leesburg, Virginia.

“We want faculty to be able to succeed in the profession, so the AAA has made the commitment, with the funding of Ernst & Young [Foundation] to provide this development opportunity,” says Gordon. “We help them understand and identify what’s expected at their institution.”

A premiere event for the American Accounting Association, the New Faculty Consortium has been running for decades. Gordon attended the conference as a young academic and has presented on balancing research, teaching and service in the past. She was selected to join and chair the New Faculty Consortium Committee because of her commitment to the profession and to the development of the next generation of teachers.

The program’s mission is to support recent doctoral graduates and new faculty members as they develop into successful scholars. The AAA’s working definition of a scholar is “someone who gains new knowledge and disseminates it to others through teaching, research and service to his/her institution, to the academy and to the accounting profession.”

The senior faculty members present on topics such as: enriching your career through service; understanding the editorial process; navigating the research and administrative process; and balancing your career and your personal life. The program also provides valuable workshops on teaching and learning, for attendees who may not have taught as PhD students. Senior faculty also mentor the new faculty in groups and individually, with the hope that the connections built at the conference continue.

For Gordon it is important to include members who have had more challenging career paths. “For some it might have been a bit rockier road and that’s always good for the new faculty to hear,” adds Gordon. “Sometimes you might hit some bumps but your success is out there.”

Temple University’s Fox School of Business Department of Accounting will honor five distinguished accounting alumni who are business leaders in the Greater Philadelphia region, at the second annual Accounting Achievement Awards on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at the Hyatt at The Bellevue.

Hosted by the Department of Accounting, the event will recognize the following alumni with awards reflective of their professional careers and civic service: Kapish Vanvaria; Robert Fesnak, CPA; Kathleen Bock, CPA; Harris Devor, CPA; and Wayne Leevy, CPA.

Kapish Vanvaria will receive the Rising Star Award, presented to a public or private accounting professional who has demonstrated leadership skills and a commitment to the Fox School. Vanvaria, BBA ’09, is excelling as a senior manager in EY’s advisory practice in Philadelphia.

Robert Fesnak, CPA, will receive the Public Accounting Award, presented to a professional for outstanding success in the public accounting sector. Fesnak, BBA ’78 MBA ’90, is a partner and management consulting leader with RSM in Philadelphia; furthermore, he has served as a board member for several companies and organizations, including the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies, where he is currently a member of the board of directors.

Kathleen Bock, CPA, will receive the Corporate Award, presented to an executive-level professional who has reached a level of success in the non-public accounting profession. This individual has primary responsibility for the financial statements or operations of their organization and has demonstrated technical and/or industry expertise. Bock, BBA ’86, is a member of The Vanguard Group’s International Leadership Team and Head of the Americas Region, where she is responsible for all aspects of The Vanguard Group’s businesses in Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Harris Devor, CPA, will receive the Community Service Award for outstanding contributions to the accounting profession and local communities. Devor, BBA ’73, is a partner at Friedman LLP. He has served both the Philadelphia and Jewish community in various leadership positions including: President, Gershman YM/YWHA; Board of Directors, Senior Law Center; Chairman, Greater Philadelphia American Israel Public Affairs Committee (“AIPAC”) Leadership Council; and member of AIPAC National Council, Board of Trustees; Federation of Jewish Agencies.

Wayne Leevy, CPA, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to a professional who has advanced the accounting profession through their sustained leadership in public accounting, business, or academic communities. Leevy, BBA ’66 MBA 97, has had a distinguished career in the Philadelphia area, demonstrating professional excellence as a managing partner and vice chairman of Mitchell & Titus LLP and currently as the chief financial officer and chief operating officer of StoneRidge Investment Partners LLC, all while actively participating and holding leadership positions in both civil service and the accounting community.

In addition to celebrating the storied careers and community involvement of alumni, the Accounting Achievement Awards event goes a step beyond traditional alma mater recognition by providing current and new students access to higher education. The event serves to raise dollars for the Accounting Achievement Awards Term Scholarship Fund, a scholarship created to support high-achieving accounting students in pursuing their undergraduate and Master of Accountancy (MAcc) degrees, funded by the net proceeds from the event.

“The Fox School of Business Accounting Achievement Awards celebrate our outstanding alumni who excel professionally and make impressive contributions to their communities,” said Eric Press, chair of the Fox School Department of Accounting. “We’re proud of this year’s winners and their connection to the Fox School. Using the proceeds from this event to support the Accounting Achievement Awards Term Scholarship Fund, we will assist future accounting professionals in reaching the high level of success attained by the winners of this event.”

Read more about the event and honorees at: http://www.fox.temple.edu/departments/accounting/second-annual-accounting-achievement-awards/

shutterstock_146356064While money can’t buy happiness, access to technology is capable of producing that very result, researchers from Temple University’s Fox School of Business found.

The team of Fox School researchers examined the role played by information and communication technology (ICT), uncovering a link between it and personal well-being. Their research paper, titled, “Does information and communication technology lead to the well-being of nations? A country-level empirical investigation,” has been accepted for upcoming publication by top academic journal, MIS Quarterly.

Kartik Ganju, Fox School PhD candidate; Dr. Paul A. Pavlou, Milton F. Stauffer Professor of Management Information Systems; and Dr. Rajiv D. Banker, Merves Chair in Accounting and Information Technology comprised the Fox research team.

The team argued that the adoption of ICT by countries leads to an increase in levels of well-being of its citizens, and that doing so helps citizens develop social capital and achieve social equality.

The Fox research team grouped 110 countries into three categories (low ICT, medium ICT and high ICT). The researchers found that countries with low levels of ICT could increase the happiness levels of their citizens by giving them access to mobile telephone lines. Hence, countries with low levels of ICT may not have to invest in expensive fixed line networks to increase the level of their citizens’ happiness, but could “leap-frog” the adoption of these systems in favor of mobile telephones, to increase happiness.

Using the results of a Gallup World Poll survey, which measured the global well-being of individual nations, Fox researchers found that the adoption of ICT led to an increase in the well-being of its citizens. Moreover, they found that access to ICT gave individuals a voice, “and an opportunity to communicate with others like themselves,” Ganju said. ICT also impacted the health of a nation’s people, with newfound access to proper healthcare practices, the team said. The researchers also cited access to education and real-time information that ICT affords as additional benefits.

“Most people assume that by giving an individual a certain amount of money that you can make him or her happier, and we found that this is not the case,” Ganju said. “We found that it is not just the income of GDP of a country that renders happiness. Access to information and communication technology allows people to feel an interconnected bond with each other than cannot obtain with money.”

“Suddenly, people were being exposed to different markets and rates. This allowed them to better bargain and achieve more-favorable pricing scenarios,” said Pavlou, Fox School’s Associate Dean of Research, Doctoral Programs and Strategic Initiatives. “Regardless of a particular nation’s gross-domestic product, access to technology can amplify that country’s productivity and the well-being of its people,” Pavlou added. “ICT works to even the playing field between the wealthiest and poorest of nations.”

The Third Annual Conference at Temple University on the Convergence of Managerial and Financial Accounting Research was held Aug. 7-9.

Co-hosted by the Merves Center for Accounting and Information Technology, and the Accounting Department at Temple’s Fox School of Business, the conference has received additional sponsorship support allthree years from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) UK, the world’s largest professional body of management accountants. Each year, the Accounting Conference explores state-of-the-art practices in how the understanding of financial reporting is and can be informed by considering managerial accounting issues, while showcasing important cutting-edge research by scholars in both managerial and financial accounting.

More than 80 leading experts gathered at Alter Hall, home to the Fox School of Business, including keynote speakers Jacob Thomas, Rajiv Banker, Eva Labro, Paul Zarowin, Sudipta Basu, Ranjani Krishnan and Lawrence Brown.

A co-organizer of this and other accounting conference series, Banker said this particular series attracted 50 percent more participants than last year, and is hopeful for continued growth in the years to come.

“Convergence of managerial and financial accounting is an exciting and expanding new field of research,” said Banker, a Professor of Accounting at Fox. “The Fox School of Business at Temple University, our faculty, and our PhD students are seen as emerging leaders in this new field of inquiry.”

Presentations featured research work by academics, revealing how managerial behavior influences financial reporting, and covered topics like Analyst Forecasts, Performance Evaluations, Earnings Behavior, International Financial Reporting, and Taxation. Presenters and attendees came from around the world, including representatives from universities such as Harvard, Northwestern, New York University, the London Business School, Yale, Columbia and Tilburg University.

In addition to presentations from professors and leading academic experts, 12 PhD students presented their research work during the conference.

Assistant Professor of Accounting at the Fox School and a co-organizer of this year’s conference, Lucas Threinen said he was impressed by the PhD students who had been accepted as presenters, noting “these students represented themselves very well, and I believe they were able to get valuable feedback about their work.”

Providing PhD students with an opportunity to present their research at an academic conference builds upon the mission of the Fox School’s PhD Program to educate, train and mentor PhD students in a supportive research environment with the aid of Fox faculty to generate and publish ground-breaking research in top journal outlets, and place them in peer and aspirant research institutions around the world.

Next year’s conference on the Convergence of Managerial and Financial Accounting will be held at the University of Calgary, in Canada, which Banker hopes will expand the scope of already-growing attendance, and will be co-sponsored again by the Merves Center for Accounting and Information Technology at the Fox School of Business. The Merves Center has more exciting events in the works for the upcoming academic year, bringing a new academic conference series focusing on Accounting Information Systems to Temple. Banker will co-organize this conference series with newly appointed Assistant Professor of Accounting Hilal Atasoy.

More information on conferences sponsored by the Accounting Department at the Fox School of Business at Temple University can be found by visiting their departmental website.

Finance PhD student Jamie Weathers would not have chosen the Fox School had it not been for the PhD Project.

In the fall of 2010, Weathers applied to a conference sponsored by the PhD Project, which was held in Chicago and featured an array of speakers and various networking opportunities. “It was extremely energizing, motivational, and it made you feel like you can do it,” Weathers said. Weathers, a single mother, said that she was most motivated to pursue her PhD when she heard the story of another single mother, with three children, working toward her doctorate.

While attending the doctoral school fair at the PhD Project Conference, Weathers, a Kentucky native, met Fox School Associate Dean of Research, Doctoral Programs, and Strategic Initiatives Paul A. Pavlou, as well as Bernie Milano. It was not until then that Temple University and the Fox School were on her radar.

Weathers described her first year as a doctoral students as an experience in which she had to learn how to “read” again, as she had not come from a background in academic research.  Through the PhD Project, she is a member of the Finance Doctoral Students Association (DSA), which has provided a safe space for Weathers to figure out where she stood in this new realm of academia.

“That’s the good thing about the DSA,” Weathers said of the PhD Project’s support networks in five business disciplines.  “People give you help and advice.  You get to share your experiences with others, and you know that you’re not alone.” Weathers feels just as grateful to be a part of Fox’s Department of Finance. “The faculty and my colleagues here are a wonderful support system,” she said. “Temple is a perfect fit for me.”

-Alexis Wright-Whitley

A new study of 365 sell-side financial analysts shows that private phone calls with managers remain an essential source of analysts’ earnings forecasts and stock recommendations – even in light of regulations limiting businesses’ selective disclosure of financial information.

More than half of the analysts surveyed by a team of accounting researchers said they make direct contact with executives of companies they cover five or more times per year. The direct contact with management is so important that one analyst said his company hired an FBI profiler to train analysts “to read management teams, to tell when they’re lying, to tell when they were uncomfortable with a question. That’s how serious this whole issue has become.”

“Everyone who reads our paper comes away with something, but one key takeaway is the importance of private conversations between analysts and managers even in a post-Regulation Fair Disclosure (FD) world,” said Lawrence D. Brown, the Seymour Wolfbein Distinguished Professor of Accounting at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, who conducted the study with professors at Arizona State University, University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M.

The survey also finds that accurate earnings forecasts and profitable stock recommendations have relatively little direct impact on analysts’ compensation. These findings are derived from a study titled Inside the Black Box of Sell Side Financial Analysts, which presents results of a 23-question survey focused on analysts’ incentives, as well as 18 detailed follow-up interviews.

The study offers insights into an area that is understudied by researchers of the financial industry. While hundreds of articles have sought to predict financial analysts’ choices using models and statistics, few have peered into the “black box” of the organizational contexts and personal psychologies that drive analysts’ decision-making.

The study’s findings also serve as a potential commentary on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD), launched in 2000 to limit selective disclosure of market-moving information to analysts or other key stakeholders prior to the general public.

But respondents noted that companies’ public conference calls discussing quarterly earnings are often followed by one-on-one conversations between analysts and chief financial officers. According to one analyst: “We’re almost back to where we were pre-Reg FD, but not quite because that backroom chatter is shut down. It’s just now it’s not in the backroom; it’s everywhere.”

More insights from the survey include:

  • Approximately one quarter of analysts feel pressured by supervisors to lower their earnings forecasts, presumably because outperforming forecasts pleases investors.
  • Approximately one quarter of analysts feel pressured by supervisors to raise their recommendations, presumably because it is easier to get their clients to buy rather than to sell the stocks they recommend.
  • While only 35 percent of analysts said the profitability of their stock recommendations were a very important determinant of their compensation, 67 percent cited “standing in analyst rankings or broker votes” as central to their compensation.
  • Only half of analysts considered primary research “very useful” in forecasting earnings or recommending stocks.

The study was conducted by Lawrence D. Brown, Seymour Wolfbein Distinguished Professor of Accounting at Temple University’s Fox School of Business; Andrew C. Call, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business; Michael B. Clement, Professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business; and Nathan Y. Sharp, Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. The full text is available on Social Science Research Network at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2228373.