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Recognising an illustrious academic career, The Australian National University (ANU) has appointed Professor Neil Fargher as an Emeritus Professor of the University.
Since his postdoctoral days in the 1990s, Professor Fargher has been nurturing a passion – solving complex problems with accounting.
“Understanding complex problems using accounting approaches is a lot of fun. Providing information to make logical decisions has been a strong interest of mine. I did my PhD in the late 1980s at a time where there was considerable interest in the use of financial-statement data in capital markets and emerging use of databases with accounting and capital-market data. I liked reading The Wall Street Journal and academic research. I could program a computer at a time when most professors had somebody doing their typing for them, so I fell into the fun of empirical research examining how markets react to accounting information,” he muses.
Professor Fargher joined ANU in 2008. He has made significant contributions to the ANU College of Business and Economics (CBE), its Research School of Accounting (RSA) and the University.
Neil is the rare academic who has made significant and lasting impact across research, education and leadership.
“Professor Fargher has had a distinguished career and we have been very fortunate to have him in RSA. His understanding of accounting and passion for research has had an enduring impact not only on the College, but also on the broader academic and professional community,” shares Professor Juliana Ng, Director of RSA.
His research interests have predominately focussed on examining how risk is measured and communicated to the market, and how investors respond to this information. Over the course of his academic career, these areas of interest have led him to study a range of related issues, such as auditor reporting of going concern uncertainty, probabilities of default, leverage, derivatives, short sales, fair value accounting, assurance services for initial public offerings and, most recently, systems for whistle-blowing.
Professor Fargher’s research has provided him the opportunity to influence regulation and accounting standards. Following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), he led an American Accounting Association committee that summarised research on auditor reporting.
“This research synthesis has been well-cited, and I believe that the work of that committee was one of many contributors to the ultimate changes to the United States accounting standards requiring management to disclose significant uncertainties regarding the ability to continue as a going concern,” he shares.
Professor Fargher explains that this project also facilitated similar studies on how auditors in Australia responded to the GFC.
In 2015, he and fellow CBE lecturer Dr Alicia Jiang received the Peter Brownell Manuscript Award, a prestigious honour in the field of accounting and finance, recognising their research.
In addition to his academic successes, Professor Fargher regards his time as a teacher to be highly rewarding.
A highlight of my career has been watching many students initially attend introductory accounting classes with the view that it is a compulsory course imposed on them to make their lives miserable, but leaving having enjoyed it.
“My teaching has ranged from introductory financial accounting through to courses for doctoral students. A highlight of my career has been watching many students initially attend introductory accounting classes with the view that it is a compulsory course imposed on them to make their lives miserable, but leaving having enjoyed it,” he proudly says.
“Another highpoint of my career has been supervising approximately 40 research students at PhD, masters and honours level, and having the opportunity to teach research-method courses that influence many students. Many of the PhD students that I have had the good fortune to supervise have gone on to successful careers at a range of universities in Australia and overseas. It is time to retire when your students are professors and department heads,” he shares.
Reflecting on his recent recognition, Professor Fargher says, “it is an honour to be recognised as an Emeritus Professor at ANU. For now, my primary plan is to let the excellent RSA staff get on with shaping the University for a post-pandemic world.”
CBE wishes Professor Fargher all the best in his retirement and appreciates the praise he affords his colleagues.
“On behalf of the College and University, I would like to thank Neil for his outstanding contributions to CBE and ANU. Neil is the rare academic who has made significant and lasting impact across research, education and leadership. Neil’s leadership and dedication to the University and his students are major factors in the success of the College. We are delighted that Neil will remain as an Emeritus Professor and look forward to seeing him regularly at the College,” says Professor Steven Roberts, CBE’s Dean.
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Photo credit: Andrew Taylor