Donald T. Nicolaisen: An Internationalist SEC Chief Accountant (1944–2019)

Accounting Horizons, Vol. 34, Issue 2, pp. 185-191, 2020

Posted: 4 Aug 2020

See all articles by Stephen A. Zeff

Stephen A. Zeff

Rice University - Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business

Martin Emanuel Persson

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: July 7, 2020

Abstract

Donald T. Nicolaisen (1944-2019) was an internationalist, a progressive thinker, and a leader of the U.S. accounting profession. This memorial article traces Nicolaisen’s early education and career in the Milwaukee office of Price Waterhouse & Co. in the 1960s, his rise to partner and eventual transfer to the firm’s national office in New York City in the 1970s, and his appointment and tenure as the Chief Accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the early 2000s. During his time as the Chief Accountant, Nicolaisen laid the groundwork for the lifting of the reconciliation requirement for foreign private issuers traded on American stock exchanges; the implantation of Sarbanes-Oxley’s internal control reporting requirements; and the introduction of XBRL for companies’ annual filings with the Commission. Through these initiatives, Nicolaisen leaves behind a legacy of improving both the quality of financial reporting and the efficiency of U.S. capital markets.

Keywords: Chief Accountant, reconciliation requirements, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Securities and Exchange Commission

JEL Classification: M41, M42, M48

Suggested Citation

Zeff, Stephen A. and Persson, Martin Emanuel, Donald T. Nicolaisen: An Internationalist SEC Chief Accountant (1944–2019) (July 7, 2020). Accounting Horizons, Vol. 34, Issue 2, pp. 185-191, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3645542

Stephen A. Zeff

Rice University - Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business ( email )

6100 South Main Street
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77005
United States
713-348-6066 (Phone)
713-348-6296 (Fax)

Martin Emanuel Persson (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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