Distinguished Speaker Series
The Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest brings prominent individuals to campus to speak about topics related to accounting ethics, governance, and the public interest. The LMU community and general public are welcome to attend all lectures at no cost.
October 4, 2016: Lynn Turner
September 29, 2015: Tony Menendez
March 4, 2015: Rick Fleming
November 18, 2014: Edward Kleinbard
February 24, 2014: Chris Lowney
October 2, 2013: Mike Wallace
April 15, 2013: Nell Minow
November 5, 2012: Stephen Young
October 25, 2011: David Walker
September 21, 2010: Luis Aguilar
March 9, 2010: Lynn Turner
October 21, 2009: Charles Bowsher
March 17, 2009: Robert Bunting
October 15, 2008: John Hueston
April 16, 2008: David Cay Johnson
February 12, 2008: R. Chad Dreier
September 24, 2007: Bunnatine (Bunny) Hayes Greenhouse
November 8, 2006: Cynthia Cooper
Lynn Turner - "Are Accountants Relevant in Today's Digital World?"
In today's digitally connected world, technology is replacing accountants, transparency has become mandatory, investors are increasingly turning to indexing and away from active management, and the quality of audits has been called into question. If the accounting profession is to maintain its relevance and value proposition to those who depend on it, what must it do?
The Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest welcomed a familiar face to campus for a lecture titled “Are Accountants Relevant in Today's Digital World?” Lynn Turner is the first speaker to be invited back for an encore presentation since the Distinguished Speaker Series launched 10 years ago. As senior advisor with Hemming Morse’s Forensic and Financial Consulting Services Group, member of the PCAOB Investor Advisory Group, and former chief accountant at the SEC, there are few more qualified or experienced than Lynn to discuss the current state of the audit industry.
Lynn, who started his career as an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers, began by stating that auditing has been around since the 1890s and posed the question: “What is the value of an audit today?” Congress mandated independent audits of public companies in 1933 and the process hasn’t changed much since then. Which is a big problem.
Lynn revealed a major issue with the quality of audits and shared figures that shocked the audience. Today's audit deficiency rate hovers somewhere between 35-40%. Error rates are especially high for the Big 4 accounting firms (up to 50%!) In a survey last year, public company CFOs estimated that 18% of companies manipulate their earnings by an average of 10%. What seems to be happening is auditors know a problem exists but don’t report it. Fraud reporting is often reported by the press (Enron), insiders (Xerox and WorldCom), independent research firms or hedge funds, trustees and regulators (Fannie Mae).
Not only has the auditing process remained the same over the last 40 years, but there’s often a too cozy relationship between auditor and issuer. Interestingly, Europe is way ahead of the U.S. in auditing control standards; they now require the rotation of auditors and auditing reports are detailed and thorough. Another problem is that most audits are done by young inexperienced people who don’t fully understand the business.
So what needs to change? According to Lynn, we need to change the business model of how audits are done, auditors need to recognize that the investor is the customer, use tools available by Wall Street and accountants need to have master’s degrees. Lynn doesn’t expect to see real changes in the near term; in fact, it might not happen until the next blow up. Until then, he encouraged LMU accounting students to be honest, ethical professionals and continue to push for industry change.
Tony Menendez - “What it Takes to be a Whistleblower in America, and What it Takes Out of You”
Best known as the “Accountant Who Beat Halliburton,” Tony Menendez spoke on Tuesday, September 29th at LMU College of Business Administration as part of the Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest’s Distinguished Speaker Series.
In his lecture, Tony recounted events leading up to the 2006 investigation into Halliburton’s questionable accounting practices and share what it took to fight against a powerful organization. Tony has 20+ years of experience working at, auditing or providing technical accounting and reporting guidance to some of the largest public and private companies. Today, he is a top controller with General Motors. His story gives tremendous insight into what it takes to be a corporate whistleblower in America.
Rick Fleming - "How Investors Become Road Kill on the Path of Least Resistance"
The Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest welcomed Rick Fleming, Investor Advocate, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, to LMU on the evening of March 4. In his lecture, titled "How Investors Become Road Kill on the Path of Least Resistance," Fleming discussed the influence of industry in the regulatory system, and argued that investors need to be more vocal in order to avoid becoming road kill in the rulemaking process.
Fleming leads an office charged with promoting the interests of investors by analyzing the impact of proposed rules and regulations, identifying problems investors have with financial service providers and investment products, and proposing regulatory changes.
Fleming kicked off his presentation by demonstrating via an actual ladder the steps needed to achieve economic success. Step 1 is get an education; Step 2 is get a job; Step 3 is save money; and Step 4 is invest in yourself or other businesses. The problem is investors are at risk of losing their nest egg because they are in a vulnerable position and considered attractive targets for scams. After the Great Depression, the government set out to protect investors and boost the economy by initiating federal securities laws.
The same thing happened after the 2008 financial crisis. Median household income fell almost 40% as a result of falling home values, plunging stock values and high unemployment. As a result, Congress enacted the Dodd Frank Act to enhance regulation of financial firms and restore faith in the economic system.
Fleming walked the audience through the evolution of a rule – the SEC issues a proposed regulation followed by a comment period and ending with the SEC adopting the final rule. A trend he’s noticed is that rules tend to be more favorable to industry.
“I’m trying to figure out why this keeps happening,” said Fleming. “I think it’s human nature to follow the path of least resistance. Most arguments come from powerful law firms representing industry. There needs to be less rational apathy on the part of investors.”
So how do we fix this? According to Fleming, two things need to happen: 1) investors need to be more vocal in the process and 2) the SEC has to stop counting comment letters like they’re votes.
“I’m genuinely concerned about Americans’ outlook on the future,” said Fleming. “Half of Americans expect future generations to be worse off and over half say political/economic systems are stacked against people like them. I’m setting out to change these perceptions.”
Prior to joining the SEC, Mr. Fleming spent 15 years as a state securities regulator, including more than a decade as General Counsel for the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner. He moved to Washington, D.C. in 2011 to become the Deputy General Counsel for the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), where he provided assistance to state securities regulators and supported the activities of various project groups, primarily in matters involving enforcement and corporation finance.
“I want to encourage each of you to become more involved in the role of government today and what we can accomplish with a larger government in place,” said Edward Kleinbard to a packed audience of Loyola Marymount University business students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Kleinbard spoke at LMU as part of the Center for Accounting Ethics, Government, and the Public Interest’s Distinguished Speaker Series. He is the Johnson Professor of Law and Business at USC’s Gould School of Law and a Fellow at The Century Foundation. Prior to these appointments, he served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation.
In his presentation, Kleinbard highlighted several themes from his new book titled “We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money.” In the book, he explains how the public's preoccupation with tax policy alone has obscured any understanding of government's ability to complement the private sector through investment and insurance programs that enhance the general welfare and prosperity of our society at large.
“Both conservatives and progressives get it wrong,” says Kleinbard. “We need more government, not less. We must focus on cut and dry issues.”
He says a bigger, more muscular government is desirable, responsive and necessary for the following reasons:
- Desirable because the national economic pie gets bigger when government complements the private sector through well-designed investment and social insurance.
- Responsive to soaring income inequality.
- Necessary because government investment and insurance are the only ways to address incomplete private markets and to ensure inequity of opportunity.
Rising inequality is very real in our nation. The U.S. gap between rich and poor is wide. There’s a clear correlation between school test scores and median home prices. In other words, the government spends more on public education for rich kids than poor kids. The U.S. also accepts much more poverty than other countries. According to Kleinbard, regressive taxes can fund progressive fiscal systems.
Kleinbard proposes a two percent solution: increasing federal government spending by two percent of GDP would open many opportunities.
“When we choose how government should spend and tax, we open a window into our national fiscal soul,” said Kleinbard.
A few other revelations from his talk:
- Government exists to spend, not to tax; taxation is just how we finance that spending.
- Government investment generates large positive returns, just like private investment.
- We should focus on opportunities net of their costs.
- Our largest asset class is ourselves: our lifetime incomes and satisfaction are directly tied to our investments in ourselves through education.
- Government has to be the investor; private markets cannot invest in people.
Chris Lowney - "Noble Vocation or New Idolatry? Business Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis"
The Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest welcomed author and leadership expert Chris Lowney to the Hilton stage as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. In his lecture, titled "Noble Vocation or New Idolatry? Business Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis," Lowney challenged the audience with the following questions: Are you using your power to serve only yourself (new idolatry) or to serve others (noble vocation)?
According to Lowney, business can be a noble vocation if you see yourself as being challenged by a greater meaning. Are you serving the common good? He used Bill Gates as an example of noble vocation.
In the lecture, Lowney also summarized the following three leadership lessons:
- "Missing the Train" - human beings are more important than profit margins; don't lose sight of the people in need
- "Praying Alone" - On Pope Francis's first day on the job, he headed to church to pray. Remind yourself why you're grateful. Mentally relive what happened and take away a lesson.
- "Doing Laundry" - Before he became Pope, Pope Francis's subordinates remember him doing the laundry. When you lead, you have to ask people to make sacrifices.
Lowney chairs the board of Catholic Health Initiatives, one of the nation’s largest healthcare/hospital systems with some $19 billion in assets. He is a one-time Jesuit seminarian who later served as a managing director of J.P. Morgan in New York, Tokyo, Singapore and London until leaving the firm in 2001. Lowney is the author of four books, including Heroic Leadership, Heroic Living and A Vanished World. His latest work, Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads, explores the Pope's leadership approach and draws crucial life lessons that were highlighted in his lecture at LMU. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Fordham University, where he also received his M.A. He is holder of five honorary Doctoral degrees.
A reception was held immediately following the lecture where audience members could purchase a copy of Lowney's book and have him autograph it. Lowney's Jesuit background, leadership expertise and ethics-driven mission made him an excellent choice to speak to LMU students and alums.
The Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest welcomed Mike Wallace, director of the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) Focal Point USA, on the evening of October 2nd as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. His lecture, titled "Sustainability Performance: Measuring, Managing and Reporting," gave an in-depth overview of the current state of corporate sustainability reporting across the world.
The Global Reporting Initiative is a leading organization in the sustainability field that promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for organizations to become more sustainable and contribute to sustainable development. According to a 2011 KPMG Sustainability Report, 95 percent of the 250 largest companies now report on their corporate responsibility activities. Interestingly, two-thirds of non-reporters are based here in the U.S. The GRI guidelines are currently in their fourth version and Wallace took time to explain how the guidelines have evolved over time and some of the newest disclosures. Companies now must publish a GRI content index in order to classify as a GRI-based sustainability report.
Awareness and uptake of sustainability reporting has increased dramatically in recent years. Many organizations consider sustainability reporting to be necessary and beneficial. But growth in sustainability reporting needs to be exponential for it to become a standard business activity. All of the major stock exchanges now report corporate sustainability performance as well as the Bloomberg Terminal. More and more governments are also making sustainability reporting mandatory. Wallace’s presentation was very enlightening and made a strong case for sustainability’s future impact on the global corporate landscape.
With nearly 20 years of international experience in the sustainability field, Wallace has worked with corporations, nonprofits and government agencies on the development, implementation and integration of sustainability programs. He is a recognized expert in the field, speaks and writes internationally on the subject of sustainability and reporting, and has inside knowledge on how the financial markets use sustainability information. For more information on the Global Reporting Initiative, visit www.globalreporting.org.
Nell Minow - "How Corporate Governance Can Save (or Ruin) the World"
The Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest welcomed Nell Minow, co-founder and board member of GMI Ratings, to the Hilton stage on Monday, April 15as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series. Minow's lecture was titled "How Corporate Governance Can Save (or Ruin) the World."
Minow was named one of the 20 most influential people in corporate governance by Directorship magazine in 2007 and was dubbed “the queen of good corporate governance” by BusinessWeek Online in 2003. Prior to co-founding The Corporate Library (now GMI Ratings), Minow was a Principal of Lens, a $100 million investment firm that took positions in underperforming companies and used shareholder activism to increase their value.
In her rousing presentation, Minow shared some of the most shocking examples of bad corporate governance she’s encountered throughout her impressive career. These examples, many of which were laughable, were a stark lesson on what not to do. She said the financial crisis was caused by one reason: incentives. Minow also touched upon executive compensation, corporate greed and the lengths to which companies are willing to cover up messy situations. A reception was held after her presentation to give students the opportunity to introduce themselves and ask questions.
Minow previously served as general counsel and then president of Institutional Shareholder Services. She taught MBA students at George Mason University for five years. She has been profiled in the New Yorker, The Economist, The New York Times, and the Washington Post and appeared as an expert in corporate governance before many Congressional and Senate hearings and on television in the United States, the UK, and Canada. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Chicago Law School. Minow is also a movie critic who reviews new releases and DVDs each week at moviemom.com and on radio stations across the country.
Stephen Young - "Rising from the Ashes of the Global Financial Crisis: Moving Toward a More Sustainable Global Financial System"
The Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest welcomed Stephen B. Young, global executive director of the Caux Round Table, to the LMU campus on Monday, November 5 as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series. The Caux Round Table, headquartered in Minnesota, is an international network of experienced business leaders who advocate a principled approach to global capitalism.
The title of Young’s presentation, “Rising from the Ashes of the Global Financial Crisis: Moving Toward a More Sustainable Global Financial System,” was particularly timely on the eve of election night, as our nation continues to struggle with finding solutions to our economic problems. According to Young, one thing became abundantly clear with the global financial crisis: the efficient market hypothesis - that free and largely unfettered markets will find stable equilibriums - is simply wrong in practice. The financial markets, left to their own devices, proved to be anything but well behaved and showed little ability to self-correct. In his lecture, Young proposed that a different paradigm must be adopted by government, business enterprises and business schools to ensure the viability of the global banking and financial system – one in which the strategic interests of owners and managers is more aligned with those of relevant stakeholders.
Young shared a map displaying the components of US debt as a fraction of GDP and the finance sector saw the largest increase. He said that the markets are often mispriced and the theory of trusting markets is not adequate. Young also discussed the “agency theory,” which argues no one can be a faithful agent as we are all too self-interested and so governed more by short-term rationality than by long-term rationality. He concluded his powerful lecture by providing an overview of the moral responsibility for businesses and how important it is to get back on track before things get even worse.
October 25, 2011
Hon. David Walker - "Fiscal Sustainability and Tax Reform"
The Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest welcomed the Hon. David M. Walker, founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative (CAI) and former comptroller general of the U.S., to the LMU campus on Tuesday, October 25 as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series. As president, founder and CEO, Walker leads CAI's efforts to promote fiscal responsibility and sustainability by engaging the public and assisting key policymakers on a non-partisan basis to help achieve solutions to America's federal, state and local fiscal imbalances.
Speaking to a packed auditorium at the College of Business Administration, all eyes and ears were on Walker as he revealed disturbing statistics about the state of the U.S. budget deficit. Using charts and graphs to illustrate America’s escalating financial problems, Walker firmly stated what two things are needed to turn this country around: better leadership at the top and action from young America. A reception with light refreshments was held immediately after Walker’s presentation where he had the chance to talk one on one with inquiring students about some of the major issues brought up during his speech.
September 21, 2010
Commissioner Luis Aguilar - "Financial Regulatory Reform: The SEC Moving Forward"
Luis A. Aguilar spoke to a packed audience at Loyola Marymount University’s College of Business Administration on Sept. 21, as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. Aguilar discussed the impact the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will have on the SEC, and discussed the principles he thought should guide the SEC’s decision making as it complies with the new requirements. As the presentation closed, Lawrence Kalbers, R. Chad Dreier Chair in Accounting Ethics and director of the Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest, presented Aguilar with the Accounting in the Public Interest Award, in recognition of “his dedication and leadership in protecting investors and the public.”
A copy of Aguilar’s speech is posted on the SEC web site and can be found by visiting this link http://www.sec.gov/news/speech/2010/spch092110laa.htm.
Luis Aguilar, Professor Larry Kalbers and Smeeta Ramarathnam
March 9, 2010
Lynn Turner - "The Economic Crisis: Bad Loans, Bad Gatekeepers and Bad Regulation"
Lynn E. Turner, the most recent presenter in the Distinguished Speaker Series, gave an entertaining and insightful, albeit somber, overview of the current economic crisis in which the global community finds itself. His presentation, “The Economic Crisis—Bad Loans, Bad Gatekeepers, and Bad Regulation came almost exactly one year after the U.S. stock market indices reached their lows during this financial crisis. Turner addressed a packed audience, frankly outlining the micro and macro fundamentals that led to the financial crisis including a culture of “me, not we,” excessive deregulation, and multiple congressional conflicts of interests. Turner also warned that recovery would be a slow and tedious process. As he concluded his speech, Turner jokingly concluded his talk with “my condolences to the young people, but thank you for paying the bills.” Dr. Lawrence Kalbers, R. Chad Dreier Chair in Accounting Ethics and director of the Center, formally closed the lecture by presenting Turner with the Accounting in the Public Interest Award from the Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest in recognition of ethical leadership and values in his service to the public and the accounting profession.”
Charles Bowsher came to campus as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. During his visit, Mr. Bowsher met in small groups with students and faculty throughout the day. In the evening, he gave an informative, timely and candid presentation titled, “The Banking Crisis, Debt, and Ethics,” to a standing-room-only audience of more than 300 students, faculty, alumni, and guests from the community. Bowsher was presented the Accounting in the Public Interest Award by the Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest. The award was given in recognition of Mr. Bowsher’s “recognition of his ethical leadership and values in his service to the public and the accounting profession.”
Robert Bunting came to campus as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. During his visit, Mr. Bunting met in small groups with students, faculty, and professionals. In the evening, he gave a very timely presentation titled, “Global Ethics and Auditing Standards for the 21 st Century” to an audience of about 150 students, faculty, alumni, and guests from the community. In his presentation, he discussed the development and implementation of global ethics and auditing standards and their importance to the global economy, financial reporting, and corporate governance. His remarks also addressed the current financial crisis and the need for a thoughtful, measured, and coordinated response by regulators worldwide. After his presentation, Bunting was presented the Accounting in the Public Interest Award by the Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest in recognition of “his leadership and commitment to ethical standards and values in the accounting profession.”
October 15, 2008
John Hueston came to campus as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. During his visit, Mr. Hueston met in small groups with students and faculty throughout the day. In the evening, he gave an informative presentation titled, “A Perfect Storm of Investigation and Governance Failures: Why Enron Failed and Why Its Failure is Relevant Today,” to an audience of about 250 students, faculty, alumni, and guests from the community. Hueston was presented the Accounting in the Public Interest Award by the Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest. The award was given in recognition of Mr. Hueston’s “commitment to the pursuit of justice and his dedication to the public interest.”
David Cay Johnston came to campus as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series . Johnston, long one of America’s top investigative reporters, joined The New York Times in 1995 and in 2001 won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the U.S. tax system. His 2004 best-selling book, Perfectly Legal : The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich--and Cheat Everybody Else, won a medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors as book of the year. His most recent book, Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) , is about how government economic policy violates Adam Smith’s teachings. During his visit, Mr. Johnston met in small groups with students and faculty throughout the day. In the evening, he gave an enlightening and provocative presentation titled, “Perfectly Legal: Inequities in America,” to an audience of more than 350 students, faculty, alumni, and guests from the community. Johnston was presented the Accounting in the Public Interest Award by the Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest. The award was given in recognition of Mr. Johnston’s “ongoing investigative reporting about our tax and legal systems and for his commitment to social justice and the public interest.”
R. Chad Dreier came to campus as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. Dreier is president, CEO, and chairman of the board of The Ryland Group, a Fortune 500 company. He is an accounting graduate and the chairman of the board of trustees of Loyola Marymount University. During the day, Mr. Dreier met in small groups with students and faculty. In the evening, Mr. Dreier gave a motivational and educational presentation titled, “Ethics in Everyday Business,” to an audience of about 400 students, faculty, alumni, and guests from the business community. The audience reacted very positively to his message and down-to-earth approach. Dreier was presented the Accounting in the Public Interest Award by the Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest. The award was given in recognition of Mr. Dreier’s “ethical leadership and integrity in business, and personal and financial support to Loyola Marymount University and many other community organizations.”
Mrs. Bunnatine (Bunny) Hayes Greenhouse, best known for challenging improper Iraq no-bid contracts, came to campus as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. During the day, Mrs. Greenhouse met in small groups with students, faculty, alumni, and guests from the Los Angeles community. In the evening, Mrs. Greenhouse gave an inspiring and informative presentation titled, “Ethics and the Whistleblower,” to an audience of nearly 400 students, faculty, alumni, and guests from the business community. Mrs. Greenhouse also was presented the Accounting in the Public Interest Award by the Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest. The award was given in recognition of Greenhouse's “ethical leadership, integrity, and distinguished service in the public interest.”
November 8, 2006
Ms. Cynthia Cooper, best known for her role in uncovering the $11 billion fraud at WorldCom, was the first to visit campus as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. During the day, Ms. Cooper met with students in the accounting ethics class, had lunch with faculty and the dean, and later met with another small group of faculty and students. In the evening, Ms. Cooper gave an inspirational and informative presentation titled, “WorldCom Warnings: What Went Wrong and Corporate Governance Lessons Learned,” to an overflow crowd of more than 500 students, faculty, alumni, and guests from the business community. Ms. Cooper also was presented the first Accounting in the Public Interest Award by the Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest. The award was given in recognition of Ms. Cooper’s “ethical leadership, professionalism, and distinguished service in the public interest.”