Did you guys see that Andersen has rebranded? Yep, the firm dropped “Tax” from its name and is just going by Andersen from now on, or until Mark Vorsatz tries to sneak in an “A.” so the firm becomes A. Andersen. And did the press release just say, “Hearkening the legacy and values of the […]
All you Andersen refugees that were light years away from Houston probably think that people have stopped judging you in their hearts, but you would be wrong: The Enrons and Worldcoms and Wells Fargos hurt the careers of innocent bystanders. It's a nasty and persistent reputational ripple effect that can be incredibly hard, and sometimes […]
Does anyone remember –- or care about -– the collapse of Arthur Andersen back in 2002? If recalled, what lessons might it have for young professionals taking serious stock of their career choices?
And it's not even close! Over at Crain's, Claire Bushey reports on the pecking order of the largest accounting firms in the Windy City: In 2014, New York-based accounting giant Deloitte stood head-and-shoulders above other Big Four firms in Chicago, raking in fees totaling more than $76.5 million from companies here. In the local market, […]
Enron declared bankruptcy on December 2, 2001. Two days later, Andersen CEO Joe Berardino wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, responded to the events in a very accountant-like fashion: My firm is Enron's auditor. We take seriously our responsibilities as participants in this capital-markets system; in particular, our role as auditors of year-end financial […]
This billboard is a work of genius. Yes, Maker's Mark is a mass-produced bourbon, but in a pinch, it does go down easy. The story behind this billboard is a little muddy but apparently, back in 2002 when this billboard appears, the AICPA was NOT amused by it and convinced Maker's Mark to pull it. […]
Perhaps you heard the news today that tax firm WTAS decided to sprinkle a little coup padre on the dead name of Arthur Andersen to resurrect a zombie of a firm name: “Our issues with Enron were the mistake of a few,” said Mark Vorsatz, WTAS’s chief executive officer, who started the company 12 years […]
Colin hid this in ANR but it's worth dusting off and setting on the mantle where we can all stare and admire it for what it is. Jacob Soll has written a book called The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations and in it, he explains how accountants were the rockstars […]
Hey, an extra $38 million for the WorldCom fiasco is an extra $38 million: Two law firms, Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman LLP and Barrack Rodos & Bacine, announced the proposed settlement Monday. They noted that the lead plaintiff previously achieved settlements with various defendants in the case for over $6.1 billion plus interest to […]
[caption id="attachment_52236" align="alignright" width="150" caption="People are still letting this man speak."][/caption]
Of course CNBC would put this guy on TV today.
Asked whether lessons had been learned since Enron filed for bankruptcy, Berardino said, “we’re still learning” and pointed to the sovereign debt crisis currently engulfing the euro zone. “(Enron) ran out of time in terms of its liquidity and a lot of the same elements — leverage, the need for liquidity, crisis when you lose confidence — are repeated in all those examples. And I would argue we’re now living through it with the sovereign crisis in Europe,” he said. “There are a lot of the same elements.”
Now, I don’t know Professor Ketz personally, but my highly acute sarcasm detector is going batshit crazy. Less subtly, MACPA Editor Bill Sheridan gives us the timeline of the events that transpired starting with Enron’s filing. Bill gets a little weepy about the whole affair, writing:
Remember how utterly chaotic that time was? News that shook CPAs to the core surfaced almost daily, and the next day brought even worse news.
Okay, I was in college when Enron went bankrupt so I don’t remember things being “chaotic” unless you count the whole “9/11 was less than 3 months ago” thing. What I do remember was an Andersen partner who came to campus for our Accounting Society meeting (BAP didn’t have a chapter at my school) alone and he didn’t really seem to know anything more than what I imagine was being reported in the news and our faculty advisor noticed it too. So for him and his fellow partners, yes, things were probably royally sucking. And yes, things did get worse when Andersen was convicted* of obstruction of justice, surrendered their state licenses and closed up shop.
So maybe all that stuff is bad. Maybe it’s really fucking bad and it causes people to cringe to think about it but even Bill sees the upside:
You could argue that the profession is better off because of it. We took our lumps, rolled with the punches, and emerged on the far side stronger and more trustworthy than ever. “That which doesn’t kill you,” etc., etc. Still, I’m not in any rush to go through something like that again. Are you?
Jesus. Can we quit acting like Enron is still a big deal? Lehman Brothers was the size of ten Enrons. TEN. And Ernst & Young, no matter what happens, looks like idiots and continues to claim that they bear no responsibility and everything is still hunky dory. Andersen got off easy. Enron went bankrupt. The firm got fired. And fired again. And again. Then the firm died. The end. Their partners and employees moved on and everything was cool. I mean seriously, even C.E. Andrews got another job. If Ernst & Young continues on, they’ll have this hanging over them until something worse happens. Enjoy that.
But back to Enron. Thanks to Enron, we got Sarbanes-Oxley. We got The Smartest Guys in the Room. And we got that awesome Heineken ad. If you think about it, lots of you probably got your job thanks to Enron. Which means you probably owe your house, your spouse, your dog and a whole bunch of other shit to Enron too. You should be thanking your lucky stars that Jeff Skilling was such a ballsy mark-to-market wizard.
And yet people choose to remember it as, “That one time where we almost DIED!” And the mainstream press, in its blissful accounting ignorance, loves to dig it up in every article that is remotely accounting related.
I don’t know about you all but I’ve moved on. Enron was this bad thing that happened to the accounting profession but other bad things have happened – far worse things – and other equally bad things will happen. Maybe if people had learned something the last ten years and tried to do things better instead of maintaining the status quo, there wouldn’t be a French guy busting your chops. Here’s to the next 100 years. Thanks, Enron.
*SCOTUS overturned the conviction on a technicality (apparently an important one) but that doesn’t bring the firm back now, does it?
With firms, anyway.