Accounting Assistant Professor Michael Iselin shares answers to five questions that reveal the issues he's studying, following, teaching, and reading about today. Plus a peek into the life he imagines, were he not teaching at the Carlson School.

Q: What is/are your current area(s) of research? What business challenges are you helping to solve?

A: Most of my research focuses on evaluating the effects of different accounting rules and regulations on the usefulness of accounting information and on the decisions and activities of companies.  Two examples of recent projects that I am excited about are as follows:

First, a paper examining the concept of accounting comparability, which standard setters argue increases the usefulness of accounting reports. We find that on average, increased comparability does indeed improve the information available to investors, but that there is predictable variation in the overall benefits across companies. This research has the potential to force standard setters, practitioners, and academics to think more carefully about the impact of increased accounting comparability.

Second, a paper examining how banks might alter their investment portfolios in response to new accounting rules that will affect how bank regulators treat changes in the fair value of those investment securities. To provide this evidence, we look back to the early 1990’s when there was a period of 9 months during which banks believed that they would be subject to a very similar set of accounting rules.  We provide evidence that after this change in accounting policy, a subset of banks changed the type of securities they held in their investment portfolio.


Faculty in Five - Spotlight

I have found that my research has the potential to shed light on several different issues that arise relating to these areas of regulatory transition.


Q: What current business issues or stories in the news are you following and why?

A: I do my best to stay up to date on newly proposed or issued accounting standards, of which there have been several in the past 18 months. I have found that my research has the potential to shed light on several different issues that arise relating to these areas of regulatory transition.


Q: What is your favorite class to teach?

A: My favorite class to teach is the only class I have taught so far here at the Carlson School: Intermediate Accounting I. I really enjoy getting to work with many of the accounting and finance majors and introducing them to the idea that accounting is not always black and white but actually involves a significant amount of judgement and discretion. 


Q: If you weren’t a business school professor, what would you be doing?

A: Before returning to academia to pursue my PhD, I worked for two years as a tax consultant and for two years in corporate real estate. I wish that my answer could be teaching golf to children, but realistically I would probably still be doing something in corporate real estate.


Q: What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

A: The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson. Not only have I read it in the past year but I've read it each of the past three years and probably five or six times in total. It is a personal development book that I first read when I was 25 years old and has had a huge influence on my life since then. I enjoyed it so much that I assign it to my students each semester and get something new out of it each time I read it.


Faculty in Five - Black and White

Accounting is not always black and white but actually involves a significant amount of judgment and discretion.