The Big Six

Stevens, Mark
January 1991
2020 Vision - Business Book Summaries;1991, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p1
Book Summary
Book summary
For those in the accounting profession, and the corporations, governments, and institutions directly affected by the CPA industry, The Big Six asks some fundamental questions that must be addressed if America is to face its future economic challenges: Are consulting and auditing compatible practices, or do they represent serious conflicts of interest? Is meritocracy appropriate in CPA firms? Can CPAs be both "professionals" and business-people, or does this represent a conflict of interest? Whereas most businesses are finding that the customer must define quality, does this market-oriented approach provide too much potential for unethical behavior for the CPA? Perhaps a more important question is who is the CPA’s customer-the public or the client?In 1987, Andersen management added a non-compete clause to its partnership agreement as a means of protecting the firm against those seeking to raid MAS. So outraged were the consultants that insurrection threatened, and in 1989, as a preventative measure, Andersen Consulting was created as a separate entity. Although this gives Arthur Andersen a competitive advantage in the Big Six, the consultant practice will continue to evolve, rendering the present reorganization obsolete. As the march toward independence spreads throughout the Big Six, firms will be forced to sell all or part of their consultant practices or risk losing them. In essence, the Big Six seems destined to return to what they were originally-accounting firms. As more and more Americans seek to "invest" in more than a savings account and a family home, and as an increasing number of "nonprofessionals" enter into the business world through entrepreneurship, all segments of society are being directly affected by the machinations of the financial world. In an era where knowledge is currency, being informed is the public’s greatest defense against the country’s financial Machiavelli. Thus, The Big Six provides an invaluable service for the layperson as well as the professional.


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