Kyle Welch is a Doctoral Candidate at Harvard Business School with research interests focused on understanding governance, management incentives and valuation. He has a particular interest in these topics as they relate to the context of illiquid institutional investing (e.g., Private Equity and Venture Capital).
Kyle’s prior industry experience provides a unique lens on his research and teaching interests. Prior to joining Harvard, he worked as an institutional investor managing Stanford University’s endowment with the Stanford Management Company. Prior to joining Stanford, he also worked at Standard & Poor’s Valuation Consulting group.
Top Executive Background and Financial Reporting Choice
We study the role of executive functional background in explaining management discretion in financial reporting. Taking goodwill impairment as our reporting setting, we focus on top executives (CEOs and CFOs) whose employment history includes experience in investment banking, private equity, venture capital or management consulting, as we expect these executives to have unique human capital and reputation concerns with respect to acquisitions and valuation modeling related to fair-value reporting. On average, we document that CFOs with prior transaction experience impair goodwill more frequently and in smaller amounts than other executives. Further investigation suggests that CFOs with prior transaction experience report goodwill that is more value relevant. This is consistent with CFO valuation expertise helping impair goodwill in a more informative manner. In contrast, CEOs with prior transaction experience appear to be subject to agency conflicts that affect their propensity to impair goodwill. Overall, our results not only suggest that executive functional background is a significant explanatory factor of financial reporting discretion, but also that a better understanding of its effect relies upon analyses of specific settings and predictions grounded in upper echelons theory and agency theory.
Keywords: Financial Reporting;
Experience and Expertise;
Decision Choices and Conditions;
Top Executive Background and Corporate M&A: The Case of Former Investment Bankers
We study the M&A activity of firms with top executives whose employment history includes experience in a Wall Street firm, especially those with investment banking background ("IB executives"). In terms of strategy, controlling for firm-level effects, we document that firms with IB executives (and directors) engage in more divestitures. We also find that the presence of an IB CFO—but not CEO—is associated with more acquisitions. Next, in terms of accounting choice, we find that IB executives are more likely to impair goodwill only when their reputation concerns are likely to be low. Finally, in terms of performance, we find that market reactions to transaction announcements vary with the presence of a former Wall Street executive primarily when (s)he is an alumnus of one of the advisors on the deal. Overall, our results suggest that the influence of Wall Street executives on their firm's M&A stems not only from their functional background but also from their reputation concerns and social networks.
Keywords: Managerial Roles;
Mergers and Acquisitions;
Social and Collaborative Networks;
Power and Influence;
Brochet, Francois, and Kyle Welch. "Top Executive Background and Corporate M&A: The Case of Former Investment Bankers." December 2010.