Mover and Shaper

Charles Frasier's national reach boosts Lipscomb's accounting program [From the May/June issue of Nashville Post magazine]

College professor Charles Frasier doesn't fit the stereotypical category of "those who can't, teach."

A Lipscomb University graduate who earned a graduate degree from the University of Alabama before going to work for what was then a "Big Eight" (and now a "Big Four") accounting firm in Huntsville, Frasier got his start in teaching at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Smitten with the teaching profession, Frasier eventually took a faculty position at Lipscomb, moving back to Nashville.

A fellow Lipscomb faculty member who operated a small accounting shop in Green Hills encouraged Frasier to also go to work at the firm. Five years later, when his business partner took over as chair of the accounting department at Middle Tennessee State University, Frasier was left running the firm. Today, Frasier, Dean & Howard employs 50 people and counts the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce among its clients.

Frasier simultaneously chairs the Lipscomb University accounting program.He ties the program's good reputation to high standards, solid work ethic and integrity, explaining simply that "companies are looking for that."

History has also played a role. Lipscomb's accounting program owes its foundation to Axel Swang, one of the first Ph.D.s in accounting in Tennessee, who was also very active in professional circles in Nashville and around Tennessee. Since Swang's retirement, Lipscomb's accounting faculty has mimicked that recipe for success and continued to participate actively in state and local professional associations.

Apart from his work at the firm and at Lipscomb, Frasier sits on a very prominent board. In the public accounting profession, there are two major standards-setting bodies that are a part of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. First is the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which sets standards for accounting principles. Next is the Auditing Standards Board, which sets standards in the field of auditing. Frasier is one of 19 members from across the nation seated on the Auditing Standards Board. The ASB is responsible for setting auditing standards for all companies that are not publicly held.

"Every non-public company in America needs to follow these rules or they have not done a proper audit," says Frasier, who is in the first year of a three-year term on the governing board.

Currently, that board's major area of work is navigating the convergence of American and global auditing standards.

"We are developing standards now that are more consistent with standards that might apply in England or Germany," Frasier says. "These converging international accounting and auditing standards are the major focus of the standard-setting agencies."

It is conceivable that during Frasier's tenure the decision will be made to finally make auditing standards universal. Through the convergence Frasier speaks about occurring now, countries' various standards would be relatively close by the time such a decision was made. Nevertheless, it would be an interesting time to sit on the board, as it would likely require a lot of work and a lot of politics to reach key decisions such as what agency has ultimate authority.

Frasier's seat at such a table ensures that Lipscomb accounting students are learning from someone who can.