Arthur Andersen, the former Big Five firm that collapsed over a decade ago in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom scandals, has been revived by a group of former Andersen partners who have changed the name of their firm from WTAS to Andersen Tax.
WTAS was founded in 2002 by CEO Mark Vorsatz and 22 former Arthur Andersen partners and has grown internationally. In an effort to identify a brand name that it could use and protect globally, WTAS said it felt the “Andersen” name best reflected its own culture of clients first, stewardship, transparency and best in-class solutions.
“We all came from a common culture and shared certain core values,” Vorsatz said in a statement Monday. “In creating a global platform, we recognized that the development of an integrated professional service model based on common values with a common identity was essential.”
Andersen Tax, like WTAS, will be an independent global tax firm with no audit practice. It will be completely owned by its partners. Most of them have previously worked at Andersen or a Big Four accounting firm.
As the needs of the firm’s clients continued to expand beyond the U.S., WTAS said it has focused on developing more comprehensive relationships with firms outside the U.S. It said it evaluated a number of options and networks and ultimately determined that building its own global platform was the best solution to ensure the highest quality client service internationally.
In the last 14 months alone, WTAS said it has welcomed nearly 40 partners and more than 150 professionals in nine locations across Europe. Studio Associato De Vecchi in Italy, Paris-based STC Partners, PrimeTax AG in Switzerland, and Taxperience in the Netherlands and Russia joined the WTAS team, and several other additions are expected before the end of the year.
“We all share a vision of creating a premier independent tax firm that delivers best-in-class service in a seamless fashion across the globe,” Vorsatz said. “To achieve that, we needed one common name. Accordingly, we are becoming Andersen Tax.”
At its peak, Arthur Andersen and its affiliated firms had more than 85,000 employees worldwide. It closed its U.S. accounting operations in 2002 because of problems resulting from its audit of the Texas energy firm Enron along with the telecommunications giant WorldCom. Andersen never declared bankruptcy or dissolved. Most of the partners left for other firms. Since that time, Arthur Andresen has mainly focused on resolving various lawsuits. Ownership of the partnership went to four limited liability corporations known as Omega Management I, II, III and IV.
“Many individuals and organizations were deeply affected by what happened at Enron,” said Vorsatz. “But Arthur Andersen, at its best, was a firm that was founded and managed on the basis of quality and objectivity by world-class people with world-class training. For Andersen Tax, independence and objectivity are critical. To be clear, we are not an audit firm and have no intention of providing audit services. From the outset, our mission has been to serve as a quality alternative to the large accounting firms who typically have audit practices, and as a premier example of independence and objectivity.”
Andersen Tax is expanding in the U.S. and Europe in the near term, with expectations for future growth in Asia and Latin America.
“Our name may be changing, but our core values remain,” Vorsatz said. “We are building Andersen Tax to create an enduring place where clients across the globe are afforded the best, most comprehensive tax services, delivered by skilled professionals with the highest standards.”