Accounting News Roundup: The Fight Over the Arthur Andersen Name Gets Weirder | 03.07.17

By | 6 months ago

Fighting over the Arthur Andersen name

Last week we learned that two different firms had laid claim to the Arthur Andersen name. Andersen #1 (i.e. old-new Andersen) was the firm formerly known as WTAS, a San Francisco-based firm that became Andersen Tax in 2014. Andersen #2 (i.e. new-new Andersen) is based in France and its global managing partner Stéphane Laffont-Réveilhac announced last week that his organization had “reconstituted [Arthur Andersen], with 26 offices on 5 continents and in 16 Countries.”

Andersen #1 didn’t appreciate Andersen #2’s claims, rejected them outright and reiterated that they were the rightful owner of the name. The general counsel of old-new Andersen, Oscar Alcantara, went so far to say that this poseur Andersen simply didn’t have the numbers to do the name “Andersen” justice:

[T]here has been, I think, some discussion about one of the principals who worked as a lawyer in one of the offices. She was not a partner and didn’t have an ownership interest, so to speak, in any Arthur Andersen entity or office. While I’m sure she enjoyed her employment at that Arthur Andersen firm, I think it is very difficult for her to claim that she carries the legacy of that worldwide entity.

Not only that, but Mr Alcantara said this new Andersen didn’t really have offices or phones or “any current ability to offer [business, tax and legal] services.”

Well, the new-new Andersen is not taking this lying down. Once again, Stéphane Laffont-Réveilhac took to LinkedIn and he did NOT hold back:

Because of the misleading, defamatory, denigrating and outrageous statements recently made by ANDERSEN TAX LLC to the media and to our clients and contacts, we have no other choice than respond publicly and in the strongest terms.

Once again, we affirm that we are the sole owners of the worldwide rights on the ARTHUR ANDERSEN and ANDERSEN brands, slogans and logos.

Public databases, in the US and throughout the world, confirm our rights at a global level. Furthermore, in 2015, ANDERSEN TAX LLC contacted us in order to buy back our rights.

Today, we are very proud to have nothing to do with ANDERSEN TAX LLC and their outdated practices. Such behavior is clearly contrary to the ARTHUR ANDERSEN values and shows that these individuals on the rope are panicked and unscrupulous. They are blinded by their ego, arrogance, lies and greed.

As much as I love the shouting of the name and the ad hominem attacks, I also love the closing of the statement: “ARTHUR ANDERSEN deserves our struggle. ARTHUR ANDERSEN is coming back, stronger than ever. Think Straight. Talk Straight. ®” It’s as if the name Arthur Andersen has been waiting all this time for its white knight to resurrect it the RIGHT WAY (with the ®).

A spokesperson for new-new Andersen, Samantha Kemp, sent Going Concern and other outlets including Accounting Today screenshots from the US Trade and Patent Office website claiming “this confirms that our organization (QUATRE JUILLET MAISON BLANCHE, SAS) owns the only live ARTHUR ANDERSEN trademark in the United States.” And sure enough, you can see that when you search “Arthur Andersen” in the Trademark Electronic Search System database. But the USPTO also has this document that says their application for the trademark has been refused. Mr. Alcantara told AT that this is because “in part because of objections filed by Andersen Tax.” Kemp told AT, “That statement by Andersen Tax is false.”

This whole thing is just perfect. It promises to get even weirder on March 15th when new-new Andersen holds a press conference.

Accountant shortage

Small accounting firms who are complaining that the Big 4 are hording all the talent have some company:

Companies adjusting to accounting-rule changes in the U.S. are running into a problem: There aren’t enough accountants to go around.

Health-products company Johnson & Johnson took six months last year to fill an open position for a junior-level accountant in its financial-compliance department, a delay that annoyed Stephen Rivera, a senior director.

“It’s very difficult to find qualified people,” he said. “The big accounting firms are taking them all.”

That’s from a Wall Street Journal article that goes on to say that PwC has brought down its turnover through various tactics:

PwC has recently lowered its turnover rates, in part by allowing associates to work from home and permitting them more flexible hours. Employees also get perks at the office such as treadmill desks, and Ping-Pong and foosball tables.

That second sentence is superfluous. More people aren’t staying at PwC because of the treadmill desks, or foosball tables. A foosball table isn’t going to fill that junior-level accountant job at J&J.

Anyway, what PwC and some of the other firms have figured out is that if you pay people well and you allow them to live the lifestyle they want, fewer of them will leave. In fact, they’ll work harder for you because they love the arrangement. It’s pretty simple really, although I won’t go so far to say it’s a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. But in general, if other employers are paying more but have strict face-time expectations, people will leave. And if employers pay considerably less but have very flexible work arrangements, people will eventually leave for more money, even if they have to be in the office a little more often.

KPMG

If you had Simon Collins in your “Who’s the next global chairman of KPMG?” office pool, the Telegraph reports that you’re a loser:

Simon Collins, who threw his hat in the ring for the firm’s top job in December last year, has dropped out of the race in recent weeks.

It is understood, Bill Thomas chairman of KPMG’s America region, and Klaus Becker, chief executive of the accountancy firm’s German operations, are leading the running to become the next global head. An announcement will be made on Wednesday.

Previously, on Going Concern…

If your busy season sucks and you’re looking for a new job, Accountingfly featured many open positions with employers across the US.

In other news:

  • EY Boston has a new OMP.
  • “Shareholders will question management about keeping apace of the new administration’s deregulation efforts and responding to Presidential tweets, according to BDO.”
  • Will women go on strike on Wednesday?
  • BBC Tells Facebook About Child Porn on the Network, Facebook Reports BBC to Police
  • “A study of the work and sex habits of married employees found that those who prioritized sex at home unknowingly gave themselves a next-day advantage at work, where they were more likely to immerse themselves in their tasks and enjoy their work lives, said Keith Leavitt, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Business.”

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