With regard to scope of services, it is expected that there will be increased restrictions on the types of additional services that a public accounting firm will be able to provide to a public company that it is auditing. This probably means that other non-Big Four accounting firms will take their place. So, we will see more work for those other firms.

Although this will generally inure to the benefit of the non-Big Four firms, there are other ramifications that might not make those regional and local firms too happy. For one, you may see some states following the federal lead and similarly restrict services that accounting firms involved in preparing and reviewing financial statements of nonpublic companies can offer to those clients-- thereby limiting the consulting work to be offered. Also, as with the auditors of public companies, there will probably be tighter oversight, greater scrutiny, an increase in the number of disciplinary proceedings, and more penalties and sanctions being imposed on accountants and firms that are found guilty of violating the much tougher set of rules.

Clearly, there is a marked difference between the roles and responsibilities of an auditing firm of public companies and an accounting firm of a closely held company. Unfortunately, in this post-Enron/Andersen era, some legislative and regulatory bodies might not see it that way. My guess is that every public accounting firm will be impacted in this aftermath of Enron/Andersen. I think it will change the way they do business: some more, some less, but ultimately the cascading effect of Enron/Andersen will work its way down to each and every accounting firm. Be ready!


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