Stephen Harland Penman

Stephen Harland PenmanStephen Penman grew up in Brisbane, a lazy (in those days) subtropical town in the state of Queensland, Australia. Not a great student at high school, he confesses, choosing to “get a job” on graduation rather than going to university. That job—a payroll and accounts payable clerk—was his first exposure to accounting. His boss, the firm’s accountant, encouraged him to go to night school, so he enrolled in evening classes in accounting at the University of Queensland. And that did it! The subject grabbed him; that weak high school student graduated a few years later with a bachelor’s degree with First Class Honors.

In 1971, he was accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago where his basic training in “accounting theory” was supplemented with exposure to economics, finance, and econometrics. His professors, Nicholas Gonedes, Eugene Fama, Merton Miller, and Nicholas Dopuch added inspiration. On graduating, he moved to Berkeley for 23 years, then, in 1999, to Columbia.

Stephen has been a leading scholar in developing modern financial statement analysis and applying it to accounting-based valuation. The 1989 Ou (pronounced “O”) and Penman papers are viewed as the first papers in the area: catalysts for the stream of research on financial statement analysis that followed.

Stephen’s textbook, Financial Statement Analysis and Security Valuation, has had a significant effect on how financial statement analysis is taught in the classroom. He is director of the master’s Program in Fundamental Analysis at Columbia Business School.

He is the George O. May Professor and Chair of the Accounting Division in the Graduate School of Business, Columbia University, where he is also co-director of the Center for Excellence in Accounting and Security Analysis. As part of the Center, Stephen has authored or co-authored policy papers and monographs, and the Conceptual Framework of the FASB and IASB.

Stephen has published widely in finance and accounting journals and conducted seminars on accounting and analysis for academic and professional audiences. This work has been recognized with several awards including the 1991 AAA/AICPA Notable Contribution to Accounting Literature Award. In 2002, he was awarded the Deloitte Foundation Wildman Medal Award for his book, Financial Statement Analysis and Security Valuation.

Stephen Harland Penman is the One Hundred and First member of The Accounting Hall of Fame.

View the 2019 Interview with Stephen Harland Penman