Final Accounting: Ambition, Greed and the Fall of Arthur Andersen by Barbara Ley Toffler, Jennifer Reingold
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
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 WeekGuide to the Best Business Schools (McGraw-Hill, 1999).
Final Accounting: Ambition, Greed and the Fall of Arthur Andersen 5 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
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
More than 1 year ago
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.
More than 1 year ago
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.
More than 1 year ago
I read this book shortly after taking my Auditing class for my BS in Accounting, right before I took Forensic Accounting. I have raved about it to every professor and student I could. This is truly an amazing story that all accounting professionals and students must read!
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