June 23, 2018

This Dusty Stack of Decades-Old Arthur Andersen Materials Can Be All Yours

Arthur Andersen & Co.

Thanks to the unruly playground-cum-marketplace that is Craigslist, you now have the opportunity to own a bit of Arthur Andersen history. No, I’m not talking about the cheap swag that the most loyal Andersen alumni whisper empty prayers to on private altars hidden in storage units. I’m talking about the written materials that guided the partners and employees of the firm four decades ago. It’s like modern day Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni et proportionalita.

Okay, maybe that’s overstating it a bit. It’s just some old shit from the estate sale of a former partner:

Arthur-Andersen-Craigslist

The images, I’m sorry to say, are lousy. If you have keen eyesight, then please read the covers aloud for the rest of us. I’m very curious about the one with the hats.

But it’s undoubtedly Andersen stuff; in the second picture you can make out the legendary Arthur Andersen doors:

Arthur-Andersen-Craigslist-2

The listing says $165, which is probably well within budget for the Arthur Andersen Gallery. You might also have to contend with that new dodgy French firm that popped up. They probably want to lay claim to any primary source documents that could help their shaky claim to be “the rightful holder of the ‘ARTHUR ANDERSEN’ and ‘ANDERSEN’ historical trademarks, logos, visuals and slogans at a global level.”

Either way, if you want these for your personal collection, you better move fast.

[Craigslist]

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Broadway Production of Enron Has Its CFO

As we anticipate the greatest thing to happen to Broadway since George Bush’s penis, we now know who will play the most important role of the entire production: numbers magician Andy Fastow.

The honor goes to Stephen Kunken, best know for his role as James Reston in Frost/Nixon. He will be alongside Norbert Leo Butz who will be playing Jeff Skilling.

We located the list of the cast for the London production of Enron and there is a role for “Arthur Andersen” and two for “Lehman Brothers” so these key roles still need to be filled.

Back to the future Tony winner; we don’t envy the research that Kunken has ahead of him since we’re assuming that he’ll have to channel the book cooking prowess of AF. Then again, since he’s an actor, he only has to pretend to know what he’s talking about with regard to accounting and financial reporting; there’s accountants out there doing that every day.

Kunken Will Play Enron CFO on Broadway [Playbill]

Former Andersen CEO: Greed Brought Down Firm

Retired Andersen CEO and Managing Parter, Duane Kullberg was part of a panel discussion that went on at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin this week where he was the featured speak on the “The Rise and Fall of Arthur Andersen”.

Mr Kullberg was part of a panel that included our friendJim Peterson of Re:Balance and Bill Goodman, President of Schneck SC, a firm with offices throughout Wisconsin that also discussed the future of the audit profession.


Mr Kullberg served as the Andersen CEO from 1980 to 1989 but “the profit-driven company culture in the 1990s, that valued sales more highly than the ethically rigorous auditing practices that built the accounting firm,” was ultimately brought the firm down.

The greed came from the development of the consulting business that became a signficant part of Andersen’s business during the 1980s:

By the time Kullberg took the reins, Andersen was an international player, increasingly involved in providing consulting services. By 1988, it was the largest consulting firm worldwide, deriving 40 percent of earnings from that side of the business.

That brought growing demand for greater independence and a bigger piece of the money pie from partners on the consulting side, while those on the tax-audit side militated against revising the company’s historic approach to treating all partners as financial equals.

So the seeds for the firm’s demise were planted long ago and it was due, dare we say, partners that were jealous over the booming consulting side of the house. After Kullberg split the consulting from the audit/tax the feuding got bad and lawyers got involved. Then the bright idea of rebirthing the consulting business within the audit/tax firm came about:

Under Kullberg, two operating units were created: Arthur Andersen, the tax-audit/accounting group, and Andersen Consulting, both under Andersen Worldwide, each under its own managing partner.

The equal compensation system also was revised, with funds being set aside to reward individual partners and teams of partners for superior performance.

Fissures widened dramatically in 1997 when Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) won an arbitration against Andersen Worldwide and broke off on its own after the tax-audit group set up its own competing consulting service

“All of a sudden, they went back into the arena of business consulting. It was untenable,” Kullberg said.

The rest of this story is well-known. If not, there’s a play coming out this spring. That should catch you up.

Accounting for greed [Kenosha News]
Carthage welcomes Duane R. Kullberg [Carthage College]