Final Accounting: Ambition, Greed and the Fall of Arthur Andersen

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Arthur Andersen's conviction on obstruction of justice charges related to the Enron debacle spelled the abrupt end of the eighty-eight-year-old accounting firm. Until recently, the venerable firm had been regarded as the accounting profession's conscience. In Final Accounting, Barbara Ley Toffler, former partner-in-charge of Andersen's Ethics & Responsible Business Practices consulting services, reveals that the symptoms of Andersen's fatal disease were evident long before Enron. Drawing on her expertise as a...
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Arthur Andersen's conviction on obstruction of justice charges related to the Enron debacle spelled the abrupt end of the eighty-eight-year-old accounting firm. Until recently, the venerable firm had been regarded as the accounting profession's conscience. In Final Accounting, Barbara Ley Toffler, former partner-in-charge of Andersen's Ethics & Responsible Business Practices consulting services, reveals that the symptoms of Andersen's fatal disease were evident long before Enron. Drawing on her expertise as a social scientist and her experience as an Andersen insider, Toffler chronicles how a culture of arrogance and greed infected her company and led to enormous lapses in judgment among her peers. Final Accounting exposes the slow deterioration of values that led not only to Enron but also to the earlier financial scandals of other Andersen clients, including Sunbeam and Waste Management, and illustrates the practices that paved the way for the accounting fiascos at WorldCom and other major companies. Chronicling the inner workings of Andersen at the height of its success, Toffler reveals "the making of an Android," the peculiar process of employee indoctrination into the Andersen culture; how Androids -- both accountants and consultants -- lived the mantra "keep the client happy"; and how internal infighting and "billing your brains out" rather than quality work became the all-important goals. Toffler was in a position to know when something was wrong. In her earlier role as an independent ethics consultant, she worked with over sixty major companies and is considered one of the nation's leading experts on business and management ethics. Toffler traces the roots of Andersen's ethical missteps and shows the gradual decay of a once-proud culture. Uniquely qualified to discuss the personalities and principles behind one of the greatest shake-ups in U.S. history, Toffler delivers a chilling report with important ramifications for CEOs and individual investors ali
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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Indeed, for an insider's story, Final Accounting doesn't take us very far inside Andersen. "By the time I got to the firm in 1995," Toffler states, "it was, to me, a place where people had begun to talk and think more crooked than straight." Which means Final Accounting tells us little we don't already know about the decline of standards at the firm. Toffler says Andersen's consulting business — now Accenture — created conflicts of interest, while Andersen's accountants and management lacked the resolve to stand up to troublesome clients, including Enron. But many observers were also saying this well before Andersen became extinct. — Peter Dizikes
The New York Times
Toffler is a consultant who specializes in business ethics, which do not seem to have been in particularly high supply at Andersen during the few years she spent there, having been hired as a partner after Andersen concluded there might be money to be made from advising clients on ethics. It appears that Andersen thought the opportunity was greatest with companies in trouble and more interested in appearing ethical than in actually acting that way. Final Accounting, written with Jennifer Reingold, a former editor at Business Week, provides an intriguing, sometimes horrifying, look at the atmosphere at Andersen, where obedience and conformity were demanded. — Floyd Norris
Publishers Weekly
The doomed accounting firm of Arthur Andersen emerges as a grown-up version of Lord of the Flies in this fascinating insider exposi. Toffler, a Columbia Business School professor and an expert on management ethics, provides an engrossing history of the accounting firm, from its early days as an icon of financial probity to its demise after a drumroll of accounting scandals culminating in the Enron and WorldCom bankruptcies. But the book's greatest strength is the author's first-hand account of corporate corruption. Toffler spent four years at Andersen selling ethics consulting services to clients while her own ethics were affronted and compromised by the atmosphere at Andersen. As a consultant, Toffler wasn't involved in the auditing shenanigans that brought Andersen down, but there was sleaze a-plenty-outrageous over-billing and forcefully selling consulting services clients didn't need-in her bailiwick. Her observations of this sordid milieu, of bullying bosses, desperate sales pitches, jockeying for power and demeaning motivational hoopla, are both funny and revealing. Looking beyond the "bad apples" to the "rotten culture," Toffler blames Andersen's problems on an ethos of conformity and deference to senior managers, bizarre compensation schemes that set partners at each other's throats, and the relentless pressure for lucrative consulting tie-ins that made auditors acquiesce in clients' fraudulent bookkeeping. The result is a case study in "group dependency," in which moral chaos mounts as good people do nothing. Toffler's acerbic wit and keen analysis make this essential reading for anyone concerned with the profit-driven turpitude of corporate America. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Since Toffler was formerly the partner-in-charge of ethics and responsible business practices consulting services at Arthur Andersen, she'll have a lot to say. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Ethics and the Hard Fall Of Arthur Andersen
Arthur Andersen is a name that has become synonymous with document shredding, accounting misdeeds and corporate scandal. According to Barbara Ley Toffler, the former partner-in-charge of ethics and responsible business practices consulting services for Arthur Andersen, it was an accounting firm that fell because of a lack of accountability. In Final Accounting, she writes that Arthur Andersen's downfall was not a murder, but was instead a suicide by a respected company whose culture began to decay in the years leading to the Enron debacle.

Toffler explains that Final Accounting is a book about "what happens when the values of an organization begin to distort your own." Enron was simply a final straw for a company that was on a search for more fees, power and political clout, and failed to fulfill its true purpose: to protect the investing public.

Arthur Andersen began when its founder set up shop in Chicago in 1913. At the time, Arthur Andersen, the man, was a first-generation American and a 28-year-old accountant who prided himself on his ethics and his integrity. His company was a place where standing up for what you believed in was a virtue, and doing the right thing was better than doing the easy thing. Toffler writes that he and his successor, Leonard Spacek, stood up for the investing public, held reputation in the highest regard, and spoke out against accounting abuses and bad policies.

Growing From Success
Even after Andersen's death in 1947, the firm grew into the most respected accounting firm in the world, with revenues tripling between 1947 and 1956 to $18 million. By 1963, Arthur Andersen had revenues of $51 million and 55 offices in 27 countries. For decades, Andersen would resign big accounts rather than stand behind accounting it felt to be wrong. Worldwide revenues continued to grow, reaching $2.8 billion in 1988. But by the end of August 2002, Andersen had been convicted on obstruction of justice charges stemming from the Enron debacle and was no longer auditing clients.

To explain the culture of "Androids" - those who went through the rigorous Arthur Andersen training and development program - Toffler describes the history of the complete cultural indoctrination that took place before a new hire could join the ranks of this elite, "cultlike" work force. This indoctrination, she notes, even included tips about the proper way to hold hors d'oeuvres at cocktail parties. It was this type of lock-step culture of conformity that Toffler writes led to disaster when the game and the leaders changed direction.

Toffler entered into the corporate culture of Arthur Andersen in 1995, when she joined the company's Central Region Consulting Organization in Chicago. After a shaky start at Andersen and during her four years of struggling with a bureaucratic, ethical and physical mess, Toffler saw the internal struggles of a company that had lost its way. She found herself in a job where making money was the goal, and over-billing was commonplace. She explains that a robotic approach to business and the acceptance of practices simply "because that's the way we do it" were part of a culture where white males made up the entirety of the company's upper echelons of management, and few minorities, women or non-Americans made it into the inner circle.

Enron's Shady Dealings
Toffler delves into the intricacies of the Enron debacle and how it seeped into the offices of Arthur Andersen in October 2001, heralding its demise. The players and personalities who found themselves embroiled in scandal in the company's final days are brought to life as she details Enron's shady dealings and Andersen's choice to keep Enron as a client despite its questionable financial practices.

Toffler describes how, in its greed for millions in fees, Andersen continued to approve Enron's books while shifting anyone who disapproved of its business practices away from the Enron account. She also details Enron's and WorldCom's (another Andersen client) bankruptcies, finger pointing and document shredding follow, offering insider observations from an expert on management ethics who watched the company crumble.

Toffler recognizes the difficulty of speaking out when individuals see problems in an organization's culture, and offers this advice: "[I]t falls upon the leaders and senior executives, who do have the power to effect change, to be keenly aware of the culture they create - and to take action when that culture is causing harm.

Why Soundview Likes This Book
In Final Accounting, Toffler describes the ethical and managerial dilemmas that Andersen experienced when it lost sight of a mission that had formed the foundation of a respected organization, and the tragic results of bad decisions when those decisions are coupled with greed and arrogance. Her call for principles in business and personal ethics is made all the more powerful when placed against the backdrop of one of the greatest business shake-ups in U.S. history. Copyright © 2003 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

From the Publisher
"The sad demise of the once proud and disciplined firm of Arthur Andersen is an object lesson in how 'infectious greed' and conflicts of interest can bring down the best. Final Accounting should be required reading in every business school, beginning with the dean and the faculty that set the tone and culture.”
-Paul Volker, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board

“This exciting tale chronicles how greed and competitive frenzy destroyed Arthur Andersen--a firm long recognized for independence and integrity. It details a culture that, in the 1990s, led to unethical and anti-social behavior by executives of many of America's most respected companies. The lessons of this book are important for everyone, particularly for a new breed of corporate leaders anxious to restore public confidence.”
-Arthur Levitt, Jr., former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission

“This may be the most important analysis coming out of the corporate disasters of 2001 and 2002. Barbara Toffler is trained to understand corporate ‘cultures’ and ‘business ethics’ (not an oxymoron). She clearly lays out how a high performance, manically driven and once most respected auditing firm was corrupted by the excesses of consulting and an arrogant culture. One can hope that the leaders of all professional service firms, and indeed all corporate leaders, will read and reflect on the meaning of this book.”
-John H. Biggs, Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA CREF

“The book exposes the pervasive hypocrisy that drives many professional service firms to put profits above professionalism. Greed and hubris molded Arthur Andersen into a modern-day corporate junkie ... a monster whose self-destructive behavior resulted in its own demise."
-Todd Rodenhauser, founder and president of Consulting Information Services, LLC

"An intriguing tale that adds another important dimension to the now pervasive national corporate governance conversation. 
-Charles M. Elson, Edgar S. Woolard, Jr., Professor of Corporate Governance, University of Delaware
“You could not ask for a better guide to the fall of Arthur Andersen than an expert on organizational behavior and business ethics who actually worked there. Sympathetic but resolutely objective, Toffler was enough of an insider to see what went on but enough of an outsider to keep her perspective clear. This is a tragic tale of epic proportions that shows that even institutions founded on integrity and transparency will lose everything unless they have internal controls that require everyone in the organization to work together, challenge unethical practices, and commit only to profitability that is sustainable over the long term. One way to begin is by reading this book.
Nell Minow, Editor, The Corporate Library

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767913829
  • Publisher: Broadway Books
  • Publication date: 3/4/2003
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.74 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Formerly the Partner-in-Charge of Ethics and Responsible Business Practices consulting services for Arthur Andersen, BARBARA LEY TOFFLER was on the faculty of the Harvard Business School and now teaches at Columbia University's Business School. She is considered one of the nation's leading experts on management ethics, and has written extensively on the subject and has consulted to over sixty Fortune 500 companies. She lives in the New York area. Winner of a Deadline Club award for Best Business Reporting, JENNIFER REINGOLD has served as management editor at Business Week and senior writer at Fast Company. She writes for national publications such as The New York Times, Inc and Worth and co-authored the Business Week Guide to the Best Business Schools (McGraw-Hill, 1999).

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

The Andersen Way
The day Arthur Andersen loses the public’s trust is the day we are out of business.
—Steve Samek, Country Managing Partner, United States, for Arthur Andersen, on the firm’s Independence and Ethical Standards CD-ROM, 1999
“I don’t care what you used to charge,” barked Robert, a partner in Andersen’s Business Consulting unit, at the stricken young manager. “You’re at Arthur Andersen now.”
Robert had asked the manager, a friendly and straightforward young man who had just joined the Firm, for an estimate to produce a CD-ROM for a large European bank going through a merger. Although intimidated, the manager responded bravely, “That’s as high as I can legitimately go. That’s the price for my top of the line.”
Robert stared at him, disgusted. “We don’t do anything for $50,000.” The manager looked as if he might melt into a puddle of shame. After giving me a pleading glance, he slunk out of the partner’s office, knowing that when he returned he had better have a generously padded price for his piece of the project.
Now it was my turn to endure the wrath of a ravenous Arthur Andersen consultant stalking fees. Robert, the young manager, and I were collaborating on a proposal to help the bank coordinate its compliance manuals and ethics policies and design a brief program to introduce them to employees in the wake of the giant merger. On that day in December 1998, I had already been with Arthur Andersen for more than three years as head of the Ethics and Responsible Business Practices Group, but I had never—and would never—get usedto moments like these. I knew I was in for it, too, since I had estimated the fee for my group’s portion of the work at $75,000. It was a fair estimate, but not a particularly profitable one for Robert, who as engagement partner on the project would be measured on the total fees. And I was right. As Robert loomed over me, linebacker-broad shoulders flexing ominously, he reminded me of nothing so much as Zero Mostel’s transformation into a rhinoceros in the Ionesco play of that name.
“What’s this $75,000?” he shouted, reverting to the machine-gun style of speaking he used to keep anyone from sneaking in a contrary word or thought. “What do you mean, $75,000? This is the big time, young lady.” (I didn’t take that as a compliment.) “What kind of a consultant are you?”
“A good one, Robert,” I managed to squeeze into the ongoing barrage of invective. “And for our piece of the project, that’s a high-end estimate.” But Robert was having none of it. “You make that $150,000,” he ordered. “Back into it.”
I did.
Robert put together the final budget, which I never saw, and personally delivered it to the bank’s general counsel, who in our two preproposal planning meetings had been very receptive to our ideas and enthusiastic about the project. I shuddered to imagine the con game that was about to be played on him. So, not having heard from Robert, I called him to find out what had happened. “What’s with the proposal?” I asked. He told me he had delivered it. “What was the bottom line?” I said, holding my breath. “Six hundred thousand dollars,” he said, coolly. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this point—I’d been through the game so many times before at the Firm—but for some reason, I was overcome by a wave of revulsion.
“You mean your piece is almost $400,000? For a few first-year-staff xeroxing policies and typing up a manual?”
“This is Arthur Andersen,” came his reply. “That’s the way we do it around here.”
“And what did the general counsel say when he saw that number?”
“Nothing,” said Robert, brusquely. “He just stood there. But don’t worry. It was just sticker shock. He’ll get over it.“
He might, but I wouldn’t. “I’ve got sticker shock, too, Robert. Who’s going to pay that kind of money for what we’re offering?” His answer was simple. “Relax. We’re Arthur Andersen. They need us. They’ll pay.” I hung up the phone.
At that moment, something snapped. Sure, I was angry, but what I felt most profoundly was utter humiliation, for myself and also for the Firm, which was using its good name to overbill and underdeliver. I wasn’t a naïf, shocked to get a taste of the real world; I’d been on the Harvard Business School faculty and successfully consulted to Fortune 500 companies for fifteen years before joining this firm with a more than eighty-year reputation for excellence and dignity. But this place was beginning to look more and more like the “bad example” I used to cite to clients. Called The Firm by everyone who worked there, Arthur Andersen felt like the real-life version of John Grisham’s famous novel. The prestigious name was being used to justify behavior that never would have been tolerated in the past, behavior that was wrong. I resolved to stop acting like a sheep.
• • •
That experience flashed back to me some three years later, on March 26, 2002, as I watched reports on a support rally for Andersen, which had just been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for its involvement with the collapse of Enron Corp., its star client. On that miserable day, even the weather gods scorned the Firm. Sheets of freezing rain landed on uncovered heads, trickled slowly down cold noses, and slid down the now-soggy T-shirts of several hundred employees of Andersen’s New York office. It was the fifth day of spring, but one of the coldest, most unforgiving days of the year—and the day Andersen had picked for a last-ditch public gathering to try to save itself from corporate extinction.
Just as everyone began to assemble, the drizzle became a torrent. “I am Arthur Andersen,” blared the stark black letters on the bright orange T-shirts. But the expressions on the employees’ faces telegraphed a different message: “I am wishing I were anywhere else in the world.” They put on a good show all the same, these young accountants, consultants, and tax specialists, because they had to: Their jobs and their careers were at stake.
On this terrible gray day, Andersen employees tried to show the world that their 88-year-old accounting and consulting firm still had some fight in it. They stood there, shivering on the black stone entryway to the Alliance Capital Building on the Avenue of the Americas, chanting their firm’s name and holding up hand-scrawled posters whose messages, blurred by raindrops, looked for anyone else to blame.
“Even Iraq got a trial before execution.”
“I didn’t shred, my kid needs to be fed.”
“I worked 0 hours at Enron.”
(“Sucks” was the preferred answer.)
“It takes a real Jack-Ashcroft to put 28,000 people in the streets.”
“It wasn’t me.”
One thirty-something guy had shown up with his baby. She napped in her pink coat, oblivious to the crowd of clean-cut, earnest young professionals in their soaked clothes, bemoaning the fate of their once-proud firm.
A carefully selected rainbow of Andersen employees and partners, from the midcareer mom to the African immigrant, came to the podium to tell their stories. Each of them struck the same chord: Andersen was a wonderful place to work. It was a company that had provided each of them many opportunities and a great career. The best thing about Andersen was the people. And why was the U.S. government punishing a hallowed institution with 85,000 global employees for the mistakes of a few? After each speech, the designated cheerleader, a peppy young man with glasses and a bullhorn, led the chant: “I am An-der-sen! I am An-der-sen!” No one seemed to be wondering whether the company somehow deserved its fate. Not one person ever mentioned the people who suffered the worst punishment of all in the collapse of Enron—the investing public.
Finally, Lou Salvatore, a small, elegant man with a full head of thick salt-and-pepper hair and a member of the Firm’s innermost circle, stepped to the podium, flanked by a young staffer toting an orange Andersen umbrella. The crowd, relieved to see that at least one of the big shots was out there getting drenched too, perked up and started to chant, “Lou! Lou! Lou!” The chant had a wistful quality, like the rallies fans have in a small-town airport for the local basketball team after it loses the state championship.
Salvatore had been working at Arthur Andersen since before most of the people at the rally were born. He had run the New York office and served as Andersen’s acting CEO for six months before the appointment of Joseph Berardino in January 2001. He favored elegant suits, was a major campaign contributor to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, and was very active in Catholic community groups. He’d even hired a nun to work full-time in Andersen’s New York offices. I knew him well. He had a decent amount of charisma, for an accountant, and good manners, too. But today he was ready for a brawl.
“We’re going to fight them until there’s no fight left,” he shouted into the microphone, which was a little too high for him. “And we’re going to vindicate all of you people and all of the other Arthur Andersen people!
“Because,” he said, enunciating every word, “we didn’t do anything wrong!” A hopeful whoop erupted from the crowd. “And when the fight is over,” he continued, “everyone is going to walk away proud, saying ‘I was, I am, and I always will be Arthur Andersen.’ We’ll beat the weather, we’ll beat the Justice Department, we’ll beat the competition, and everybody will be just fine.”
• • •
As the rally blared on, Andersen’s CEO, Joseph Berardino, sat in his corner office on the twelfth floor, staring out the window at the crowd below. As the head of the worldwide Firm, Berardino had presided over a perfect storm of accounting scandals and management missteps. He had fought his way to the top of the company he had joined right out of Fairfield University—and now, just a year later, it was over. Faced with a criminal indictment, mass client defections, and the possible collapse of the $9.3 billion Firm, he
realized that there was no way out, and he announced his resignation. He had failed his firm.
A few hours later, he would appear on CNN’s Moneyline with Lou Dobbs to tell the world that he was taking the fall—for the good of his company. “What I do know is we have a lot of great people who deserve a career,” he said, hooded eyes downcast, shoulders slumped, the picture of self-flagellation. “And if my sacrifice helps just a few of those, I will feel really good about what I’ve done today. I’ve been trained by my parents and by Jesuits, who taught me in college that the greatest thing you can do is do something for someone else. That’s all I’m thinking about right now. Someday, maybe, I’ll think about myself.”
Berardino would not, however, cop to what the world already knew—that contrary to Salvatore’s remarks, Andersen had, indeed, done something wrong. It had become a place where the mad scramble for fees had trumped good judgment. And it was that failure—not a government vendetta—that left hundreds of employees shivering in the rain, begging for their jobs. Less than three months later, Oscar Criner, a computer science professor and foreman of the jury, stood in a tense Houston courtroom and pronounced the Firm guilty of obstruction of justice in the investigation of Enron Corp. The Firm announced it would stop auditing public clients by August 31, effectively ending the existence of one of the world’s best-known companies. It was a quick and brutal halt to a business that had prospered for nearly a century.
On October 16, 2002, on a warm fall day in Houston, Andersen partner C. E. Andrews stood quietly in the courtroom as the judge handed down the maximum sentence—a $500,000 fine and five years’ probation. Andersen defense attorney Rusty Hardin, dapper in gold tie and tan suit, mustered the appropriate outrage and announced an immediate appeal. “Does it, from a societal standpoint, make sense to destroy an entire company because of what you believe was the conduct of a few?” he asked. “We will go to our grave saying we are not guilty.” Leslie Caldwell, director of the Enron Task Force for the Justice Department, had a different take. “The government did not destroy Arthur Andersen,” she said stonily. “The management destroyed Arthur Andersen.”
• • •
Going to work at Arthur Andersen had been like taking a job at IBM. It was a great and venerable American brand that had, over the course of the twentieth century, become a global symbol of strength and solidity. Behind its famous doors was a group of highly trained professionals known everywhere for their reputation for hard work, competence, and a steady hand. “We were the Marine Corps of the accounting profession,” said Rich Lowe, a retired Andersen partner. But then, during the 1990s, something changed. In my years working at Arthur Andersen, I came to believe that the white-shoed accounting firm known for its legions of trained, loyal, honest professionals—a place that once had the respect, envy, and admiration of everyone in Corporate America—had lost its way. The accountants and the consultants forgot what it meant to be accountable.
The fall of Arthur Andersen, I believe, was no murder. It was a suicide, set in motion long before there was ever an indictment. Yet while the guilty verdict sealed Andersen’s fate, by the time it came it was merely a formality, the last nail in a coffin whose grave had been primed for burial.
Yes, I was part of a corporate behemoth that was successful far beyond what founder Arthur Andersen ever imagined when he opened for business in Chicago in 1913. I lived the power of a global firm in which you could experience the “Andersen Way,” whether you were meeting with clients in Singapore or San Diego, in Rome or in Rochester. But I also experienced a culture rife with conflict and an organization consumed by never-ending financial and political pressures. I worked with people so in thrall to the great bull market of the 1990s and the power and wealth of their corporate benefactors that they completely forgot that the true purpose of their job was to protect the investing public. I watched as Arthur Andersen came down from its lofty perch to wrestle in the mud in search of more fees, more power, more political clout, more everything. And when that happened, we all got dirty.
It is Arthur Andersen’s lack of accountability that has inspired me to write this book. As an observer of corporate cultures, I believe strongly that the suicide of Arthur Andersen—and the assault on the investing public’s trust—could have been avoided had people paid attention to the danger signs flashing everywhere in the late 1990s. This is not a book about the Enron debacle, since Enron, in my view, was simply the final straw for Andersen. Instead, it is a book about what it was like to work at a respected company as its culture began to decay. It is also about what happens when the values of an organization begin to distort your own. I, too, went along with a system that I knew was ultimately unsustainable, and I had to live with the consequences.

Copyright© 2003 by Barbara Ley Toffler with Jennifer Reingold
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Table of Contents

1 The Andersen Way 1
2 The Making of an Android 9
3 The Cult in Culture 37
4 Cain and Abel Andersen 69
5 Billing Our Brains Out 101
6 Lord of the Flies 127
7 Arthur the Terrible 159
8 The Cobbler's Children 185
9 The Fall of the House of Andersen 209
10 Other People's Money 225
Notes 255
Acknowledgments 263
Index 267
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2003

    Andersen is poster child for corruption

    One of the 'worst' books that I have ever read as it profoundly explains an unforgiving firm that never admitted guilt. Many of those Andersen partners should be under the jail. This book should be a college level primer to explain/teach what must not happen again. A GREAT BOOK - EXCEEDINGLY WELL DONE

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2003

    New recruit caught in the crossfire

    This book hit exactly every point a new hire coming straight out of college, like myself, or experienced hires worry about when addressing new jobs in the financial professions. Exactly what are we supposed to do when we see unethical behavior happen? We cannot say anything or it would be insubordination and grounds for termination. Stay quiet and our own integrity has been compromised. This book is the ultimate response the author wanted to say but never could. Without having to worry for job security or clients to worry about, she flat out told the TRUTH about what was happening and what should have transpired. To all other future readers of this book: this is not a mere tale of corporate corruption and greed that the media and government have embraced as the new, stylish fad of wrong doing. Rather, it is a tale of how one's own ethics and integrity can become damaged and worn down. It is a direct response to how people can change to not only maintain, but build their personal character through all professions and facets in life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2003

    I Couldn't Put This Book Down

    I have a confession to make. I'm one of those corporate assasins-a certified public accountant. And, I'm ashamed of my profession. I didn't know whether I would agree with this book at first because I do have some sympathy for the thousands who lost their job when the government executed Arthur Andersen. But, even if only some of what Barbara talks about is true, this firm deserved to die a lot sooner than it did. I suspect other members of the 'Final Four' are guilty of many of the same sins. When I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. Over twenty years ago I was a Senior Manager with a national accounting firm. Many of the same conditions that existed then, still exist now but the author's account indicates that the problems have grown in scale as the partners' incomes have grown. Practicing a profession was never supposed to be completely about money but too many practitioners have forgotten this. This book should be required reading for all experienced professional people. Maybe more of us will remind ourselves again that being the biggest or most expensive certainly doesn't mean you are the best. It's probably a contra-indication.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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