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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 systemwhere auditors are paid by the companies they audit and financial reports are now viewed as having little more veracity than press releaseshave 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 . . .
. . . 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.
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