James Leisenring is a full-time member of the International Accounting Standards Board, a privately-funded accounting standard setter based in London that is committed to developing a single set of high quality, understandable and enforceable global accounting standards. He joined the IASB in 2001 when the organization replaced its part-time predecessor, the International Accounting Standards Committee.
The IASB cooperates with national accounting standard setters around the world and is funded by contributions from accounting firms, private financial institutions, industrial companies, central and development banks, and international and professional organizations.
Leisenring brings a wealth of experience to the new organization, having previously spent more than a decade with the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board, America's designated private-sector organization for establishing standards of financial accounting and reporting.
He came to the FASB staff in 1982 as director of research and technical activities and served as chairman of the Emerging Issues Task Force from its formation in 1984 to 1988. Leisenring was appointed to the board in 1987, elevated to vice chairman one year later and became the organization's first director of international activities in 2000.
During his tenure at the FASB, he also served as chairman of the Derivatives Implementation Group and Financial Instruments Task Force, was a member of the International Joint Working Group on Financial Instruments, and was chairman of the last G4+1 group of standard setters before it disbanded this past year.
His new role with the IASB includes liaison duties with the FASB, keeping Leisenring in close contact with his former colleagues in their joint effort to increase the international compatibility of financial reporting by converging accounting standards that contribute to the health and vitality of global capital markets.
Prior to his distinguished career with the FASB, Leisenring was a partner and director of accounting and auditing for Bristol, Leisenring, Herkner & Co., now part of Plante and Moran, in his hometown of Battle Creek, Mich. In addition, he was active in the American Institute of CPAs, serving as chairman of its Auditing Standards Board as a member of several other institute committees.
Leisenring received a bachelor of arts degree from Albion College in 1962. He received a master of business administration degree from WMU in 1964 and was a member of the University's accountancy faculty from 1964 to 1969.
"I took great pride in the success of Bristol, Leisenring, Herkner as an accounting firm," he says, adding that "my other achievements are a material result of the skills I development at the firm."
He also notes that WMU played a major role in his professional development by expanding his interests beyond economics and political science.
"While working toward my master's, I had a teaching assistantship in accounting," he says, "which resulted in my becoming a member of the Western faculty. If I had not begun teaching accounting, I surely would never have become an accountant."