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5 Questions with Faculty: William Riccardi

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 13, 2017) — Assistant Professor of Accounting William N. Riccardi came to UAlbany’s School of Business four years ago, when he and his husband were looking to relocate from Florida to the Northeast.

“After meeting with some of the UAlbany accounting faculty, I could tell that they had a supportive and cooperative department, which is hard to find,” Riccardi. “That’s one thing that was very important to me.”

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Assistant Professor William Riccardi relocated from Florida to come to UAlbany's School of Business, attracted by the supportive academic environment. (Photo by Michele Flynn)

Riccardi, who received his Masters and Ph.D. degrees from Florida International University in Miami, studies international finance reporting and international auditing, including regulatory concerns and differences.

What are you working on now?

I’ve spent most of the summer working on a research project that I wanted to be the topic of my Ph.D. dissertation (but my advisor wouldn’t let me switch topics). A few recent studies have found that the quality of financial statements decreases after countries adopt international financial reporting standards, or “IFRS,” which is contrary to one of the intended benefits of such a major change in their reporting systems.

My study examines how this can be moderated by characteristics of the company’s external audit firm, which should be an external monitor to curb aggressive accounting practices.

I’m excited about this project because it combines my two primary research areas — auditing and international financial reporting. It also offers evidence that is in direction response to calls from regulators and standard-setters around the world to evaluate the impact of IFRS adoption.

What made you decide to pursue your field?

To be honest, I completely stumbled into accounting as an undergraduate because I did well in a couple high school accounting classes and thought it was a good career path. I worked in practice for about three years as the Audit Coordinator for a private company after finishing my B.S., but I think I knew by my junior year of college that I wanted to work toward my Ph.D. After learning more about academic research while studying for my Master’s degree, I decided that it was the right time to pursue that goal.

When asked about my “field” or “specialty,” I think more about my research training, which is primarily in auditing. My Ph.D. advisor has been an amazing mentor and is one of the top auditing researchers in the world. He got me interested in auditing research very early into my Ph.D. program because it can be extremely relevant to the accounting profession and regulators.

For example, I collaborated with him and another colleague on a paper that looked into auditors’ reporting decisions before and during the “Great Recession,” after which many investors and financial analysts criticized auditors for not giving sufficient warning of unstable financial conditions among their clients that ultimately went bankrupt. Our findings provided evidence on a very real and timely issue facing the accounting profession, and our results showed that the backlash and criticism was, to an extent, unwarranted.

Dinner tonight with anyone, living or not: Who, and why?

Marie Curie. She was decades ahead of her time, and I don’t think enough people understand the significance of her contributions to the field especially given the barriers she faced as a woman in science. Did you know that not only was she was the first women to win a Nobel Prize, but was and remains the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in two different sciences?

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

I’m still in the process of reading the seven-book series The Accursed Kings by French author Maurice Druon. I recently finished the third novel in the series, The Poisoned Crown. I really get into historical fiction, and this whole series follows the fall of the Capetian and rise of the Valois dynasties in medieval France, which was one of the catalysts that contributed to the Hundred Years' War.

What’s your favorite movie?

I don’t really have a favorite movie, but I think The Big Short is one of the best movies to come out in a long time. I think that the film does an incredible job of providing insight into the causes of the housing market crash in 2008 and the consequences and injustices that followed.

But what’s more important is that a lot of people don’t have the technical background to understand some of the terminology when they read about what happened, so they disregard it altogether. The film found a way to adapt to that! When a term with which most people aren’t familiar pops up, they cut away to a popular celebrity explaining what it means.

It’s a great way to help people understand what was (hopefully!) the largest economic disaster in most people’s lifetimes.

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