Maurice E. Peloubet was a leader in the field of accountancy during the first half of the last century who contributed to the profession and, in turn, society at large. His contributions to the profession’s history include his role in the evolution of accounting professional organizations, his lobbying efforts before Congress concerning the Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) inventory method and depreciation reform, his contribution to accounting thought and literature through his writings and speeches, and the development of his accounting firm.
When the predecessor of The CPA Journal was first published in late 1930, Maurice Peloubet submitted a manuscript that was published in the second issue. That January 1931 article, “Consolidated Accounts,” was the first of 14 pieces that Peloubet would contribute to the Society’s journal. Biographies of accounting leaders personalize and contextualize developments in accounting, which furthers the understanding of the profession. Maurice E. Peloubet, a past president of both the New York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA) and the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJCPA), is deserving of such a biography. For 53 years, Peloubet spent his career forging accounting thought and practice. Between his first job with Price, Waterhouse & Co. in 1911 and his retirement from the firm as a partner in 1964, Peloubet held multiple offices in the AICPA, the NYSSCPA, and the NJCPA; testified at least 25 times before Congress; spearheaded the effort to allow LIFO for income tax purposes; coined the phrase “forensic accounting”; produced more than 200 articles; represented the United States at three International Accounting Congresses and at four Inter-American Conferences; and developed his own firm into a national leader.
Peloubet believed an accountant had a duty to the profession as well as the public. He pushed himself throughout his career to shape accountancy and to use the profession to shape society. A speech he gave at a meeting on the 50th anniversary of the New Jersey Society of CPAs in 1948 highlights his position.
[W]hen an opportunity for any sort of public service is presented to an accountant, he should take advantage of it and do the best job possible for his own benefit and for that of his profession. Many people still have no clear idea of what an accountant is and what he can do. One of the best and most effective ways of showing the public what the abilities and training of an accountant stand for is for the accountant to do some work for the public which will attract some public notice.
(Noyes 1948, p. 4)
The Evolution of Accountancy
Peloubet was a leader in the profession throughout his career, and as such, the evolution of the profession and its impact on society can be examined through the lens of his career and contributions.
Though Peloubet began and ended his career with Price, Waterhouse & Co, he spent the better part of his working life as senior partner at Pogson, Peloubet & Co. Even after retirement, Peloubet continued to publish articles and books, as well as testify before Congress. During the span of his career, it is evident how accounting was influenced by changes in society—such as inflation, and the formation and interaction of numerous government entities with private business—as well as how accounting in turn impacted society—such as through tax legislation on depreciation reform and the acceptance of the LIFO inventory method for tax purposes.
Peloubet provoked accounting thought and debate through his writings, speeches, and testimonies. As evidence, the American Institute of Accountants (AIA) awarded Peloubet the Gold Medal Award of Distinction in 1946 (AICPA 2019). Several leaders in the development of accounting thought and theory confirm Peloubet’s standing. Maurice Moonitz and A. C. Littleton included two of Peloubet’s works in their Significant Accounting Essays. His 1935 article, “Is Value an Accounting Concept?”, was included because “it is a clear-cut statement of the views of a respected leader of the profession” (Moonitz and Littleton 1965, p. 95). His 1938 testimony before the Senate Finance Committee was included because:
[I]t is probably the first extended public explanation of the need for the last-in, first-out method of pricing inventories and of determining cost of goods sold. It also represents one of the few cases where a group of prominent accountants in practice lobbied openly, persistently, and successfully for a change in the income tax law.
(Moonitz and Littleton 1965, p. 450)
With his wide-ranging skill set and his global approach to the profession, Peloubet’s career in public accounting remains an example for accountants today.
Peloubet was not afraid to discuss difficult questions in his writings, which promoted the evolution of the profession. In his seminal 1935 article, Peloubet sought to clarify the accountant’s duties in his role as auditor. Asset valuation was a hot topic at the time, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducted a congressionally mandated investigation from 1928 to 1934 into the corrupt practices of public utility holding companies, including asset value write-ups. Peloubet discussed the myriad definitions for value and concluded that “value” is an opinion and that an “accountant cannot make valuations,” stating:
We are not required by the Securities and Exchange Commission to do more than to disclose the basis on which assets are stated in the accounts. I do not think the accountant has any responsibility under the Securities and Exchange Act for anything further than this, and I do not believe that periodical reappraisal, which is the only logical result of the assumption that accounts should show some sort of value, will be welcomed with much enthusiasm by the Commission.
Shortly after the Accounting Principles Board was formed in 1959 and charged with the task to issue pronouncements on GAAP and form a research program, Peloubet wrote the paper, “Is Further Uniformity Desirable or Possible?” as a rebuttal to Leonard Spacek’s paper, “Are Accounting Principles Generally Accepted?”. Both papers were presented at the AICPA’s 1960 annual meeting and published in the Journal of Accountancy the following year. While Peloubet lauded the need for “uniformity of practice and enforcement of these generally accepted principles,” he warned that uniformity does not ensure absolute comparability between companies, due to “the fact that physical and financial conditions and management policies are different, and this must be reflected differently in the accounts” (Peloubet 1961, pp. 36, 39). Spacek, however, fretted over the lack of uniformity of accounting principles and argued for more narrowly defined principles (Spacek 1961). One of the biggest issues leading to these arguments was the lack of an agreed-upon definition of “principles” in the phrase “generally accepted accounting principles.” At the time, “accounting principles” and “accounting procedures” were often used interchangeably. In a commentary on Peloubet’s and Spacek’s papers, Carman G. Blough stated:
It seems to me that, for the present at least, the term “accounting principles” means nothing different from the term “accounting procedures.” Possibly by definition there may be a difference but there seems to be none now. It makes no difference in my interpretation of an auditor’s report whether he says that the statements are “in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles” or “in accordance with generally accepted accounting procedures.” Possibly the Accounting Principles Board will be able to change all this. Certainly it hopes to.
(Blough 1961, p. 52)
This open conversation between leaders in the profession is an excellent example of how Peloubet contributed to the evolution of accountancy in these formative years.
With his wide-ranging skill set and his global approach to the profession, Peloubet’s career in public accounting remains an example for accountants today. As evidence of his lasting impact, Maurice E. Peloubet was included in the “125 People of Impact in Accounting: Leaders Who Left a Mark on the Profession” (Tysiac, Journal of Accountancy, 2012, p. 70).
Participation in State Societies
In addition to his service to the profession’s national organization, Peloubet served prominently in the administration of two state CPA societies. Records indicate he was the second person to be president of two state societies; he was president of the NJCPA for two terms beginning in the spring of 1927, and president of the NYSSCPA for 1950/51. Before Peloubet, James F. Hughes accomplished this feat, serving as New Jersey president from 1925 to 1927 and president of the NYSSCPA in 1935–1937. Peloubet joined the NJCPA in October 1920, when there were only 62 members. He served as president (1927–1929) and as a trustee (1928–1931). Peloubet’s address is listed as New Jersey through the 1940 AIA Yearbook (AIA 1941, p. 3). Beginning with the 1941 Yearbook, his address changed to New York (AIA 1942, p. 3). But he remained active in the NJCPA, serving on the advisory committee in the 1940s and early 1950s.
In January 1923, Peloubet joined the NYSSCPA when there were 699 members (NYSSCPA 1923, pp. 26, 64). He served on the Accountants’ Reports Committee from 1924 to 1930 and was chairman from the 1928 to 1930 fiscal years. He served on numerous committees throughout the years and was on the board of directors from 1931 to 1937. Peloubet was elected president for the 1950/51 fiscal year.
Peloubet contributed an 11-page article and a poem to a book celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Society in 1947. The title of his article describes its legacy, “50 Years of Development of Accounting and Auditing–Principles, Procedures and Methods” (NYSSCPA 1947, pp. 34-44). The poem, which was inspired by his time on the AIA Auditing Procedures Committee just after the McKesson & Robbins scandal, was “The Comma Comes After Hereafter” (NYSSCPA 1947, p. 89). The NYSSCPA recognized Peloubet in May 1966 with an award for his “especially distinguished leadership and dedicated service of his profession” (Peloubet 2000, 107).
In a book commemorating 100 years of the NYSSCPA, Peloubet is listed among the most notable presidents to have served during the organization’s “Golden Years.”
In a book commemorating 100 years of the NYSSCPA, Peloubet is listed among the most notable presidents to have served during the organization’s “Golden Years,” termed 1947–1972 (NYSSCPA 1997, pp. 34-36).
Family and Background
Maurice Edouard Peloubet was born in Chicago on January 7, 1892 to Louis Gervais “L.G.” Peloubet and his wife Sophia Louise Wardell. Maurice was the couple’s first child, and he was followed by his brother Sidney Wardell Peloubet in May 1894. The Peloubets were a musical family, whose American origins traced back to an ancestor who fled the guillotine during the French Revolution (Nolan 1971, p. 22). For almost the entire nineteenth century, a Peloubet was in the business of making musical instruments, such as melodeons and organs, in New York City. Maurice’s father L.G. was the first in four generations to break from the family business. He became an accountant, as did both of his sons, and in 1897 started his career with Price, Waterhouse & Company in Chicago (DeMond 1951, 39).
Maurice and his family lived in South Side Chicago in what was known as the Kenwood district. The house was just a short walk from Jackson Park and a few blocks from the shore on what is now Blackstone Avenue (Peloubet 2000, p. 2). In his memoir, The Story of a Fortunate Man, Maurice recalls happy tales of fishing for perch in Lake Michigan and riding bikes through local farms. The family left Chicago and moved to East Orange, New Jersey around 1902 for the founding of the New York office of L.G.’s accounting firm Pogson, Peloubet & Company. Life in New Jersey was interrupted for one year when the family moved to Anaconda and then Butte, Montana in 1908, so that L.G. could be close to his client, Anaconda Copper Mining Company (Peloubet 2000, p. 4). While there, L. G. Peloubet assisted in the pioneering of the Montana CPA profession. The family returned to New Jersey in 1909, where Maurice finished his last two years of school at East Orange High School (Peloubet 2000, p. 4). After high school, Maurice went on to a career in public accounting, first with Price, Waterhouse & Co. (1911-1919) and then his father’s firm of Pogson, Peloubet & Co. Price Waterhouse transferred Maurice to its London office in 1914, where he resided until 1919.
In June 1917, the United States had the first call for military service registration. Maurice’s draft registration card is dated July 19, 1917, and lists his occupation as accountant and his employer as Price, Waterhouse & Co. in London (U.S., World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, 1917). As Peloubet recalled, “I was not only rejected, but I might even say ignominiously rejected, as I was placed in Class VG, ‘totally and permanently mentally or physically unfit for service.’ I have never yet been told whether the disability was mental or physical” (Peloubet 2000, p. ix). There is no record of Peloubet suffering from a disability of any kind.
Peloubet found himself knee-deep in cost accounting during the war, and its importance made a lasting impression.
While in England, Peloubet met Ellen Wilhemina “Mina” Ayres, and on May 25, 1918, they married in St. Mary’s Church in London. Mina’s background seems humble, as her father’s occupation is listed as “Billiard Marker” (scorekeeper) on a 1901 census and as “Traveller” (or travelling salesman) on his daughter’s marriage certificate (London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932, 1918). It is unclear what prompted Maurice and Mina to leave England, but on July 12, 1919, they set sail for New York [New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957, 1919].
Maurice and Mina did not have any biological children, but in the 1930s, Maurice adopted Anna Louise Schwartz Peloubet as a teenager. Anna was a distant relative on Maurice’s father’s side of the family, and she is listed as his adopted daughter in the 1940 census (1940 United States Federal Census). In April 1943, Mina filed for a divorce on the grounds that Maurice deserted her (The Palm Beach Post 1943a); two months later, the divorce and joint custody of Anna was awarded (The Palm Beach Post 1943b). On July 2, 1943, he married Louise Southworth Pedlow (1895–1981) (Montana, County Marriage Records, 1865-1993, 1943). Even though Louise’s daughter from a previous marriage, Lovedy Pedlow, was 18 at the time, she was strongly influenced by her stepfather (The Palm Beach Post 2010). Lovedy earned a degree in accounting from the University of Maryland in 1946 and worked in the New York office of Pogson, Peloubet & Co. She later married Ettore Barbatelli, who was the president of the National Association of Cost Accountants, now the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), in 1970 and 1971. Maurice Edouard Peloubet died on June 1, 1976, while visiting the Barbatellis in Milwaukee.
The familial creative thread continued to run through Maurice’s life, as he was known as a musician and poet. His love of poetry led to an extensive collection, and on his retirement in 1964, he donated over 500 volumes on the 18th century English poet William Blake to the New York University Library (Nolan 1971, p. 22). Maurice was a Renaissance man, engaged with society.
Early Career with Price, Waterhouse & Company
From a young age, Maurice knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career in accounting (Peloubet 2000, p. 3). L.G. must have realized the opportunities for his son were greater at Price Waterhouse than with his own firm, because in 1911, he took Maurice to the New York office of Price, Waterhouse & Company to meet with George O. May, who hired the young man (Peloubet 2000, p. 4). The following year, he enrolled in evening courses at New York University School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance, where he was exposed to the teachings of John R. Wildman.
Maurice was unable to finish the program because in 1914, he was transferred to the London office of Price Waterhouse. The onset of World War I in 1914 changed the office’s workforce. By 1915, 50% of Price Waterhouse had enlisted (Jones 1995, p. 111). This staff shortage brought on the transfer of Peloubet and others from the United States and Canada, such as Bauke Gaastra from New York and W. M. McKinnon from Toronto (Jones 1995, p. 119), as well as opportunities for women.
Peloubet was based in the London office, but he spent much time traveling and working throughout Europe. The expansion of the firm in Europe allowed Maurice to travel. In December 1914, on an audit of Irish railways headquartered in Dublin, Peloubet witnessed the tensions between the Catholics and Protestants that would soon lead to the Easter Rising in 1916 (Peloubet 2000, p. 11). In the spring of 1916, he witnessed the first German Zeppelin shot down over London (Peloubet 2000, p. 33). His memoir contains many anecdotes from his various assignments, and travel documents corroborate his movements.
World War I brought the importance of cost accounting to the fore-front in the United Kingdom, as well as the United States. The urgent demand and massive scale of production needed for war supplies were unprecedented, and they created an atmosphere ripe for profiteering. The British government soon realized that cost accounting was needed to calculate a fair price for supplies. Most contracts were either at a set price (agreed on upfront) or based on actual costs plus a reasonable profit (Loft 1994, p. 122). Because of government contracts, many businesses, which previously did not consider cost systems, found it necessary to implement one.
Peloubet found himself knee-deep in cost accounting during the war, and its importance made a lasting impression, as later in his career he was a member of the National Association of Cost Accountants. On one assignment working under Sir Nicholas Waterhouse, Peloubet designed and installed a cost system for Isleworth Rubber Company in 1916 (Peloubet 2000, p. 27). The company was owned by Germans, so the British government took over the company and the production of rubber tires and rubber parts for machinery during the war. Their main customer was the British Ministry of Munitions. It was also during this time that Peloubet was exposed to the base-stock (or LIFO) method of inventory, which was allowed for British income tax purposes (Peloubet 2000, p. 38). Nearly two decades later, Peloubet lobbied for the acceptance of LIFO for income tax purposes in the United States (Moonitz and Littleton 1965, p. 450).
Peloubet is credited with coining the term “forensic accounting.” It was the concept of forensic accounting that was partly responsible for Maurice receiving the 1946 AIA award for outstanding service to the profession.
Years with Pogson, Peloubet
Shortly after his return to the United States, Maurice joined his father’s firm of Pogson, Peloubet & Co. He earned his CPA certificate in 1920, and by 1921 he was a partner. Maurice helped build Pogson, Peloubet & Co. into a formidable national firm with a specialty in the mining industry. In 1963, when Maurice was a senior partner, the firm merged with Price, Waterhouse & Co. This was a boon to Price Waterhouse, as the Pogson Peloubet clients they gained included Anaconda, Phelps-Dodge, and Newmont—all top mining companies on the New York Stock Exchange (Allen and McDermott 1993, p. 117). Maurice was made a partner with Price Waterhouse on the merger, and he retired shortly thereafter in May 1964 (Peloubet 2000, p. viii). Throughout Maurice’s years with Pogson, Peloubet & Co, one can see the manifestations of his prolific career in his testimonies as an expert witness, involvement in the profession’s associations, government work, and extensive publication.
Peloubet is credited with coining the term “forensic accounting” in his article “Forensic Accounting: Its Place in Today’s Economy,” published in the June 1946 Journal of Accountancy (Crumbley and Apostolou 2002, p. 16). In fact, it was the concept of forensic accounting that was partly responsible for Maurice receiving the 1946 AIA award for outstanding service to the profession.
In that article, Peloubet described how war contracts between the government and private business shifted the focus of cost accounting from “control or reduction” to “justification and proof.” He stated, “during the war both the public accountant and the industrial accountant have been and for a long time after the war will be engaged in the practice of forensic accounting” (1946, p. 459). Peloubet elaborated and set forth two types of forensic accounting practices. In one type, the accountant is an expert witness in a court of law, and in the other, he is an expert witness before an administrative or regulatory government agency. This second circumstance was a rather new development brought on by the increasing number of governmental agencies that grew out of the war and the control these agencies exerted over business. Peloubet did not see the accountant as an advocate in these circumstances (Peloubet 1946, p. 460).
Peloubet embraced his duties to the profession through his involvement in accounting organizations.
Peloubet practiced both types of forensic accounting, testifying in a wide variety of situations. For example, he testified before the federal government on multiple occasions. With his testimonies before the Senate Finance Committee in 1936 and 1938 representing the American Mining Congress and the Copper and Brass Mills Products Association respectively, he was instrumental in convincing Congress to allow the last-in-first-out (LIFO) inventory valuation method for income tax purposes (Pincus 1989, pp. 30, 35).
Peloubet also championed depreciation reform throughout his career. In January 1958, he testified before the House Ways and Means Committee with regard to insufficient depreciation due to inflation (Committee on Ways and Means 1958, pp. 975–1013). In 1959, he submitted a paper to the Ways and Means Committee in which he advocated accelerated depreciation either based on shorter asset lives, higher rates, or by allowing bonus depreciation in the year of purchase (Committee on Ways and Means 1959, pp. 891–919). He also proposed another option, known as reinvestment depreciation, which also attempted to ameliorate the effects of inflation. In 1963, he testified as a consultant to the National Small Business Association before the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee in favor of depreciation reform and for the repeal of the Long Amendment, which was a provision from the Revenue Act of 1962 that required the investment tax credit to be deducted from the depreciable tax base (Committee on Ways and Means 1963, pp. 1907–1919). He also addressed the need for an extensive study on the depletion of natural resources before any changes were made to the tax law. In September 1966, Peloubet, again acting as consultant to the National Small Business Association, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee regarding President Johnson’s proposal to temporarily suspend both the 7% investment tax credit and accelerated depreciation for real property (Committee on Ways and Means 1966). Even though these measures were meant to help address inflation brought on by the Vietnam War, Maurice was against them and testified that they would hurt small businesses. Though the proposal passed, the suspension was short-lived and was lifted effective March 10, 1967 (Kern 2000, p. 153).
Peloubet also testified before the SEC regarding the possible delisting of Transamerica Corporation’s stock in 1944. In a letter dated March 8, 1944, from Maurice to the Subcommittee on Surplus of the Committee on Accounting Procedure, he mentions, “The testimony was largely on points concerning surplus, the status of surplus created in [a] quasi-reorganization and the nature and propriety of charges to capital or earned surplus” (PricewaterhouseCoopers Records).
Testimonies in a Court of Law
In June 1953, Peloubet testified as an expert witness in a district court case in Des Moines, Iowa that eventually landed in the Iowa Supreme Court [Sperry & Hutchinson Co. v. Hoegh, 246 Iowa 9, 65 N.W.2d 410 (Supreme Court of Iowa, July 26, 1954)]. The case dealt with the legality of using cooperative trading stamp premium plans under the Iowa “gift enterprise” law. Peloubet testified for Sperry & Hutchinson that using S&H green stamps as a discount system was no different than other cash discounts readily used in business (Sioux City Journal, 1953). In October 1955, he was called to testify on the same topic when several merchandisers sued the city of Orlando over the right to use cash-discount trading stamps (The Tampa Tribune, 1955). The same month he also testified on behalf of the plaintiff in Social Security Administration Baltimore Federal Credit Union v. U.S., 138 F. Supp. 639 (U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Civil Division, January 26, 1956), a case that fell under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The credit union’s office manager embezzled $395,000 over several years, and Peloubet testified that there were “standard danger signals” in the records that government examiners did not recognize (The Baltimore Sun, 1955).
Peloubet embraced his duties to the profession through his involvement in accounting organizations. He was active in state CPA societies, and licensed in New Jersey, New York, and Texas. His extensive service to the AICPA (then the AIA) began soon after he joined in 1920 and spanned over four decades (AIA 1946, p. 3). Among other early services to the AIA, he was a grader for the CPA exam. He served as auditor from 1926 to 1928 and was on the Board of Examiners from 1930 to 1939, serving as chairman from 1933 to 1939 (AIA 1940, p. 20). When the Committee on Auditing Procedures was appointed in the aftermath of the 1939 McKesson & Robbins auditing scandal, Peloubet was one of the ten committee members (AIA 1939, p. 5). He continued to serve on the Committee on Accounting Procedure, the predecessor of the Accounting Principles Board (APB), from 1941 to 1953 (Peloubet 2000, pp. 123-124). He served one term as vice president for 1940/41 (AIA 1940, 20), and three terms as treasurer from 1944 to 1947 (AIA 1946, p. 3). He was awarded the AICPA Award for Distinguished Service in 1946 (AIA 1946, p. 3). Peloubet was also one of three members who composed the original insurance committee in 1947; throughout his 15 years of service to this committee, he never missed a single meeting (AICPA 1962, p. 7). He served on numerous other committees throughout his career.
The AICPA, and its predecessor the AIA, supported and participated in the International Congress on Accounting and the Inter-American Conference on Accounting in an effort to establish and maintain good relations with professional accountants in other countries and to strengthen public confidence (Foye 1952, p. 7). Peloubet strongly believed in this mission, as he sat on the executive committee at the Third International Congress on Accounting in New York City in 1929, where he presented his paper “Valuation of Normal Stocks at Fixed Prices” (International Congress on Accounting 1929: Proceedings 1930, pp. 565-581). He was a delegate at the Fourth Congress in London in 1933 (Fourth International Congress on Accounting, 1933, p. 143) and was also a delegate at the Seventh Congress in Amsterdam in 1957 (Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Accountants, 1957, p. 696). The Inter-American Conference on Accounting was hosted by the Puerto Rico Institute of Accountants beginning in 1949 (AIA 1948, p. 1). The aim of the conference was to foster relationships among accounting professionals in the Western Hemisphere. Peloubet was a delegate to the Inter-American Conference in Mexico City in 1951; São Paulo, Brazil in 1954; Santiago, Chile in 1957; and New York City in 1962 (World Who’s Who in Commerce and Industry, 1965, 1020).
Peloubet wrote poetry and at times drew from his experience as an accountant for subject matter.
Peloubet’s involvement in accounting and business organizations was extensive and varied. He was a national director of the National Association of Cost Accountants in 1947 (AIA 1947, p. 5) and chairman of the board of nominations of the Accounting Hall of Fame at Ohio State University in 1955 (The Bridgeport Post, 1955). He was also a member of the American Accounting Association, the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America, the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, the American Arbitration Association (Board of Directors), the accounting honor society Beta Alpha Psi, and the professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi (World Who’s Who in Commerce and Industry 1965, p. 1020). His service extended into the field of education as well. In 1956, the Rutgers School of Business Administration established a Graduate School of Public Accounting and Peloubet was one of 14 national accounting leaders selected to serve on the school’s advisory committee (The Central New Jersey Home News, 1956).
Peloubet wrote poetry and at times drew from his experience as an accountant for subject matter. Some of his verse pays tribute to prospecting, mining, and brass production. Other works celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales or the Mexican folk-dancers at the 1951 Inter-American Accounting Conference. In “The Comma Comes After Hereafter, or McKesson’s Ghost,” Peloubet commemorates his time on the Committee on Auditing Procedure while dealing with the aftermath from the McKesson & Robbins case. Peloubet wrote the poem while riding a train the day after a late-night committee meeting in which Dr. Joseph Klein went into a lengthy discussion, not of what would be considered accepted practice hereafter, but what he seemed to think was an equally important question: whether a comma should follow “hereafter” (Peloubet 2000, p. 100). The narrative poem, which is 29 stanzas of four lines each, features several of the prominent accountants present at the meeting, such as Victor Stempf, George Cochrane, and Pat Glover. In 1947, the poem was published in a book commemorating the 50th anniversary of the NYSSCPA (p. 89). The following two quatrains come from the poem:
Say “Go climb a tree”
When they’re told it’s the wishes
Of dear Ess Ee See.
They say, only stronger,
“No, no, what the heck
No dictation to us,
From any damn Sec.”
(Peloubet 1947, p. 89)
His poetry did not have the same publication success as his professional writings, although he did self-publish a volume of his poetry in 1938 and a few poems were published in accounting literature over the years. Peloubet was not shy about sharing his poetry. Philip B. Chenok, a former AICPA president who started his career with Pogson, Peloubet & Co., recalled that Maurice handed out Christmas poems to his employees every year (Bisky 1980, 49). One poem that Peloubet sent to noted poet Robert Frost in 1962 is preserved in Dartmouth College Library’s Rauner Special Collections Library (Albright, 2017).
Peloubet was a man “out in front” in the field of accountancy in its formative years. His career paints a picture of the dynamic relationship between accounting and society.
Bad Old Days
Maurice E. Peloubet lived a life dedicated to the accounting profession. An examination of his extensive career from 1911 to 1964 reveals an accountant who questioned, argued, and pushed for better accounting policies. Peloubet helped shape the profession through his extensive involvement in the AICPA and state accounting organizations, as well as through his writings, his testimonies before Congress, and his accounting firm Pogson, Peloubet & Co. Peloubet was a man “out in front” in the field of accountancy in its formative years. His career paints a picture of the dynamic relationship between accounting and society. When accounting is viewed as a social science, the history of its evolution is essential to understanding its present and future. Five years before his death in 1976, Peloubet was interviewed for an article in the Journal of Accountancy. The following excerpt from that 1971 interview speaks to his desire for the profession to continue to evolve:
We asked Mr. Peloubet if he ever longed for the good old days of public accounting, before the profession was swept into the eye of the storm over APB Opinions, third party liability court suits, critical attacks in the press from within and without the profession. He thought for a long minute and replied: “No. I think they’d have to be called the bad old days. Ever since I have had anything to do with accounting, the whole thrust has been to improve and to throw out the things that don’t work. I think that accountants—and I mean the organized profession—have made mistakes. But one of the mistakes they haven’t made is to get into a state of complacency.”(Nolan 1971, 21)
- 1940 United States Federal Census, West Orange, Essex, New Jersey, Roll: m-t0627-02341pp. Page: 15A- Enumeration District: 7-377, Ancestry.com
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- Albright, Charlotte, “Robert Frost Received, and Saved, Lots of Christmas Cards,”2017, https://news.dartmouth.edu/news/2017/12/robert-frost-received-and-saved-lots-christmas-cards
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- The Anaconda Standard, “A Jolly Time,”1909, January 24, Newspapers.com
- The Baltimore Sun, “Credit-Union ‘Signal’ Cited,”1955, October 26, Newspapers.com
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