A tax-only accounting firm that was started by 22 or 23 partners from the imploded Arthur Andersen firm has acquired the name Andersen from the bankruptcy trustee. The firm of WTAS LLC, abbreviation for Wealth & Tax Advisory Services, will change their name to Andersen Tax.
The issue is getting a bit of attention in the accounting world this week.
9/2 – Wall Street Journal – Tax Firm to Revive Arthur Andersen Name – Michael Rapoport was first with the story. He says WTAS has surveys that show the name is tarnished in the US but not so much amongst the financial decision makers. The name is reasonably good in Europe where they want to expand.
The firm believes the Andersen name reflects the high values and quality that WTAS provides. They want to reclaim that brand name, which they perceive is high value.
The new firm is emphasizing they won’t do any audit work. None of that stuff that took out the old firm will darken their doors.
A refresher for your memory
If you need a full length treatment of the culture of Arthur Andersen, I heartily recommend you check out Final Accounting: Ambition, Greed and the Fall of Arthur Andersen, by Barbara Ley Toffler and Jennifer Reingold.
If you need a brief recap on why the government indicted the firm, here are a few posts to help:
- To what purpose did Arthur Andersen die? Part 1
- To what purpose did Arthur Andersen die? Part 2
- To what purpose did Arthur Andersen die? Part 3
- On capital punishment of organizations – Arthur Andersen and Penn State – corporate death versus mild sanctions
Irony is firms are trending toward using letters in names today
The irony is the big firms are throwing away their storied names. Look at the changes:
- Ernst & Young –> EY
- Price Waterhouse Coopers –> PricewaterhouseCoopers –> PwC
- Peat Marwick Mitchell –> KPMG
- Deloitte Touche –> Deloitte. (well, not letters, but they dropped several names)
Discussion this week
Mike Shaub, @mikeshaub, had a good series of tweets, of which I’ll quote a few:
“Our issues with Enron were the mistake of a few,” is a common Andersen myth. WorldCom? Waste Management? Sunbeam? Baptist Foundation? Cont
He left out Boston Chicken and Global Crossing, but there is a 140 character limit. Another tweet:
People have short memories. Andersen is not a dirty word to most people. No outrage any more. My students were 9 when AA went down in 2002.
Next post: More discussions from this week and my take on the name change.