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It was an interest in problem solving that brought John J. Cooney to the Executive Office Research Department in 1971. This same interest and a recognition that the Financial Accounting Standards Board would be grappling with the emerging questions in financial accounting and reporting—and seeking their answers — led John to accept the post of technical advisor to John W. Queenan shortly after the latter was named to the FASB early in 1973. John, who returned to Haskins & Sells and rejoined the EO Research Department earlier this year, was admitted to partnership in June. "It was like coming home," he said. "Because of my technical orientation, the Research Department, with its broad exposure to varied problems and questions, provides the type of work I like best. While my two years with the FASB and with John Queenan were fascinating—and invaluable from a professional point of view—I missed the challenging and dynamic environment of public accounting." Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, John attended the University of Notre Dame, where he received a bachelor's degree in accounting. He later earned an MBA in corporate finance and taxation from New York University. John's first exposure to Haskins & Sells was through Larry Walsh, now partner in charge of the Miami office. Larry, a partner in our Philadelphia office at that time, was recruiting for H&LS at Notre Dame, his alma mater. John completed his graduate work and then spent two years with the U.S. Army as a lieutenant in Europe—during which time he kept in contact with Larry—before joining our Philadelphia office in 1964- Because of his interest in technical problems, John was loaned to the Executive Office SEC Department for several weeks in 1970. During this period he indicated an interest in joining either the SEC or Research staff, and the following year he transferred to the EO Research Department. When John Queenan was named to the FASB in 1973, he asked the Firm to suggest someone to assist him as a technical advisor. For John Cooney the offer to work with John Queenan was too good to resist. "In some respects it was the opportunity of a lifetime," John observed. "And I have to admit that the chance to work with someone like John Queenan played no small part in my decision." John Queenan joined Haskins & Sells in 1927 and retired in 1970 after serving fourteen years as managing partner. In 1968 he received the AICPA Gold Medal for Distinguished Service to the profession. He served as president of the AICPA and was instrumental in establishing the National Conference of Lawyers and CPAs. He also served as a member of the Price Commission, a federal agency established in 1971 to create and administer economic controls designed to minimize the rate of inflation in this country. When he joined the FASB—he was named vice chairman shortly thereafter— John Queenan became the only individual to have also served on both of its predecessors, the Accounting Principles Board and the Committee on Accounting Procedure of the AICPA. "John Queenan is an extremely perceptive man," John Cooney said. "He has that important and uncommon ability to bring people together—even those with opposing points of view and differing personalities. And, of course, you couldn't ask for a stronger technical background. Just watching him deal with a problem was an education in itself." Most of John's time at the FASB was spent with John Queenan considering the question of materiality in financial accounting and reporting, although he also acted as a technical advisor on other matters considered by the Board. The fruits of their work—the FASB Discussion Memorandum on Criteria for Determining Materiality—was published on March 21 of this year and is 246 pages in length. Because the concept of materiality pervades the entire financial accounting and reporting process, it touches on considerations related to the objectives as well as the fundamental concepts of the whole accounting and reporting process. The memorandum's Foreword notes: "An understanding of the financial accounting and reporting process...and of the ways in which financial statements are used in economic decision making is a necessary prerequisite to any consideration of criteria for determining materiality. Because so little was known with any certainty about these matters and because of the limited understanding among preparers, auditors, and users of the views of one another with respect to the development, reporting, and use of financial information, the Standards Board undertook [a] research effort to develop a basis for mutual understanding of these matters among all concerned with financial accounting and reporting." As part of his research on the materiality question, John did a considerable amount of traveling in order to interview approximately seventy-five people in various fields. "The interviews," he said, "some lasting as long as four hours, were held with three major groups: preparers, auditors and users of financial statements. The preparers represented companies of varying sizes and included some with 18
John Cooney: "It was like coming home"
Cooney, John J.
Queenan, John W.
Cooney, John J.
Haskins & Sells. Executive Offices
Haskins & Sells. Philadelphia Office
H&S Reports, Vol. 12, (1975 summer), p. 18-19
|Source||Originally published by: Haskins & Sells|
|Rights||Copyright and permission to republish held by: Deloitte|
|Format||PDF page image with corrected OCR scanned at 400 dpi|
|Collection||Deloitte Digital Collection|
|Digital Publisher||University of Mississippi Library. Accounting Collection|