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October 4, 2023

Golf and Less Government Busybodying Could Have Saved Andersen, Says Former Andersen Partner

Larry Katzen knows Arthur Andersen, he spent more time working there than I have spent on this mortal Earth. He's written a memoir of his time at Andersen called And You Thought Accountants Were Boring (who said that!?) and tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the government should have just stayed out of the whole thing:

“Our people and clients were long gone,” writes Katzen, a 35-year Andersen veteran. He was managing partner at St. Louis, far from Enron's Texas scam. He lost his retirement stake but learned a lot, now told in an engaging 338 pages: “And You Thought Accountants were Boring.”

Lesson One: “The government should never destroy another firm.” Get the “individuals directly responsible,” Katzen writes. The caught company will straighten up ethically, and innocent careers won't crash.

We don't have to worry about that since the loss of a Big 4 firm now would send the financial world into a tailspin, the likes of which hasn't been seen since… uh… Lehman Brothers collapsed. And look, it's five and a half years later and we are all just fine. FINE, I tell you.

Moving on, Katzen has another lesson:

A lighter lesson: Learn to play golf.

In a four-hour round with others, “you get to observe their ethics and values,” Katzen says. It could help in a business relationship. He once smacked the little white ball around a famous course with three CEOs — of J.C. Penney, ExxonMobil and Warner-Lambert — in front of a foursome headed by Warren Buffett.

Yeah, um, wasn't Scott London tipping his golf buddy? Not sure I'd say that exactly "helped" his business relationship.

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