At UBC Sauder, faculty members are more than just ‘professors.’ They conduct impactful research that is changing how society views the world while also inspiring students to pursue their academic passions and become the thoughtful, values-driven leaders the business world needs.
This year, UBC Sauder welcomes nine new full-time lecturers, tenured and tenure-track faculty to the school. In the third of this series, we introduce you to Jenna D’Adduzio, Assistant Professor, Accounting and Information Systems Division, UBC Sauder School of Business.
What brought you to UBC Sauder?
UBC Sauder has an international reputation as one of the world’s best business schools. There are so many people to learn from, not only in my own department (AIS), but throughout the entire business school. Having access to some of the best individuals in business research is an incredibly valuable way to begin my career as a research-active academic. Not only do the faculty at UBC Sauder produce some of the best research in their fields, but everyone I have met has been welcoming and collegial, which creates the perfect environment for me to develop as a researcher and as a teacher.
What are your areas of research and how did you get into this field?
I conduct financial archival accounting research, with a specific interest in firms’ annual report disclosures. Annual reports are getting longer and more complex over time, prompting regulators’ concerns that annual reports do not serve the needs of investors as effectively as they could. I spent two years working as an auditor with Ernst & Young, where I had the opportunity to audit the financial reports of publicly-listed companies. As an auditor, you are exposed to the high level of detail that makes up each item included in an annual report, and I often wondered how much of this information investors are able to process.
What fuels your research – what prompted you to research this area?
My specific research examines the materiality of firms’ annual report disclosures – that is, I am trying to understand whether firms are providing a lot of detailed disclosure in the annual reports that may not be relevant for investors’ decisions. While I was in the PhD program at the University of Georgia, I had the opportunity to attend a PhD student consortium at the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the accounting standard setters in the United States. At this consortium, we learned about many of the FASB’s current projects. One of these projects had to do with the FASB’s concern that firms are disclosing too much immaterial information, making it more difficult to identify material information in the annual reports (i.e., information that is relevant to investors’ decisions). Because firms are not required to disclose immaterial information, I want to better understand why they provide this information and whether it negatively impacts investors. My current research agenda is focused on answering these questions.
What inspires you to teach?
A general desire to learn about the world around me and understand what drives the events we observe inspires me to conduct research – and this same desire is what inspires me to teach. It’s incredibly rewarding to watch students’ understanding of accounting and general awareness of the business world grow over the course of the semester. I’m currently teaching Intermediate Accounting and am consistently impressed with my students’ understanding of the course material and interest in how it applies to the “real world.” Their curiosity and the questions they bring to the classroom keep me engaged and excited for class each week.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve discovered through your research?
We often worry that companies withhold important information and often assume that they only disclose the bare minimum to satisfy disclosure requirements. However, my research findings suggest that companies actually include a lot of “immaterial” information in their annual reports, and that they provide this information to reduce litigation risk. To the extent this immaterial disclosure makes the overall annual report more difficult to process, standard setters may need to be careful when developing new accounting standards. More information may not automatically be better, and investors might benefit from firms having more discretion to focus on disclosures that are most relevant to the firm’s specific circumstances.
What do you believe is the future of your industry?
Big data and data analytics are expected to have a significant impact on the accounting and auditing professions. As researchers, these changes are exciting because there will be so many new research questions to examine as we try to understand what big data means for our industry. As teachers, we also need to ensure our students have the skillset needed to maintain a competitive advantage in this changing industry, which keeps us on our toes in the classroom.
What are you most looking forward to in Vancouver?
My husband and I love spending time outdoors. We’re excited to hike around the greater Vancouver area with our high-energy pup, Huckleberry. Also, I’ve been enjoying the wide variety of food options available in Vancouver. I spent the past five years living in a very small town, so it’s great being in such a diverse city where I have access to delicious food from so many cultures around the world.