Unaccountable: How the Accounting Profession Forfeited a Public Trust / Edition 1

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The most recent round of accounting scandals has shaken our economy and tarnished the reputation of a once-respected profession. The inherent conflicts within the flawed U.S. auditing system–where auditors are paid by the companies they audit and financial reports are now viewed as having little more veracity than press releases–have stunned a public that once believed auditors were their eyes and ears inside the country’s biggest corporations. Now, renewed public interest has prompted the government and investors to once again ask: Where were the auditors?

In Unaccountable: How the Accounting Profession Forfeited a Public Trust, former communications director for KPMG and business journalist Mike Brewster explores the fascinating transformation of CPAs from independent voices on behalf of the shareholder to close allies of Corporate America. This vivid snapshot of the twenty-first-century accounting firm clearly examines the implications of this shift for investors, the industry, and the overall economy. Brewster’s exploration of the key issues facing accounting traces the profession from its birth in the Middle East, to its rise as one of the most universally respected in the Western world, to the calamitous scandals of the past two years, to the fall of Andersen and passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley law.

Shaped by the author’s own experiences in the industry, primary research of accounting documents going back hundreds of years, and exclusive interviews with the Big 5’s major players, advocates, and detractors, Unaccountable questions the practices of the nation’s leading accounting firms, including . . .

  • Their history of providing consulting services to the same firms they audit
  • Their push in the 1990s to open investment banking and law practices
  • Their push for double-digit growth with no regard to the ramifications of this growth on their public mandate
  • Their resistance to change, even in the face of overwhelming public criticism

. . . and discusses the recent reforms that might lead to better accounting practices and more reliable financial reporting.

From the first accountants to the future of accounting, Unaccountable offers an up-close and personal view of the accounting industry. Unaccountable turns up the heat on an already beleaguered profession, but also shows how the best and brightest within the profession can still save the day by implementing much-needed reforms.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471423621
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/4/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 1,413,663
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike Brewster is the coauthor of King of Capital: Sandy Weill and the Making of Citigroup, also published by Wiley, and a former sportswriter in upstate New York. Formerly the editor of LeadersOnline, Brewster spent seven years as the communications director at KPMG. He is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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Table of Contents

My Introduction to Accounting 1


The First Accountants 21


The Birth of an American Profession 41


Accountants Earn a Public Trust 67


The Quest for Growth 99


Cracks in the Facade 123


The End of the Audit 159


The Fight of His Life 187


Enron and the Fall of Andersen 225


Accounting 101 255


The Future of Accounting 281

Notes 299

Bibliography 315

Index 317

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