What's new in research.The mission of Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) is to advance the profession and practices of financial management through research and education. The FERF Research Committee provides guidance to the FERF staff on new research projects.
FERF Vice Chair Robert (Bob) Scherba now chairs the FERF Research Committee (see "Trustee Spotlight" in this issue). Scherba is leading a strategic planning process for future FERF research. An active member of the FERF Research Committee, Jim Wall, offered this suggestion: "FERF should focus on the practical needs of senior financial executives. The usefulness of the research will be measured by the ability of the executives to apply it in their businesses."
FERF research is being used and applied daily in a variety of ways to help financial executives become more efficient and effective. Following are some recent examples;
* FERF presented a research update to FEI's Committee on Government Business to determine how FERF can assist with communicating key topics and issues to the membership.
* In July, FERF presented a Professional Development session to the FEI San Antonio Chapter that covered the results of the 2008 Technology Issues for Financial Executives Survey, which was released in May in collaboration with FEI's Committee on Finance and Information Technology and CSC Consulting. This report has been used by members contemplating enterprise-resource-planning system conversions. There have been 184 downloads of this report so far.
* At the end of each calendar quarter, FERF issues its Financial Reporting and Regulatory Update for both public and privately held companies. Pat McCready, CFO of Channell Commercial Corp., writes: "We have a step in our financial-reporting process documentation that says we refer to the FERF Update at the end of each quarter for information on new pronouncements."
In fact, this is one of FERF's most popular publications. For the most recent issue, the update for the quarter ended June 30, 2008, there were 126 downloads of the public company version and 85 downloads of the private company version, in just two days following its release.
* In April, FERF released its 2008 FEI Audit Fee Survey. Members use this report to plan next year's audit and negotiate the fee. There have been 248 downloads of this report.
* In May, FERF released its 2008 Financial Executives Compensation Survey. An FEI member said he used the 2007 report to justify (and receive) a salary increase comparable to the average increase for his position, as indicated in the survey results. There have been 372 downloads of the 2007 report and 567 downloads of the 2008 report.
* In January, FERF released What's New in Financial Reporting: Financial Statement Notes from Annual Reports. Members used this report to assist with their footnote disclosures for their 10-Ks. There were 194 downloads of this report.
* Overall, FERF's mission is to help members learn from other members. One way to do this is with FELIX, the Financial Executives List Exchange. Nearly 3,000 FEI members subscribe to this virtual networking service.
A member recently asked for best practices in determining the fair value of stock option grants for public companies. Jim Tracy of the First Jensen Group in Waltham, Mass., provided templates for pricing options using Black-Scholes and for calculating stock price volatility. These templates are now posted in the FELIX Archives on the FERF Web site for members to access at any time.
* One of FERF's new initiatives is to summarize the key find ings of recent academic research papers so that they can be used by practicing financial executives (see "Academic Corner" in this issue). Summaries of academic papers are now posted on the FERF Web site.
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