Arthur Andersen Biography

Arthur Andersen – Founder of the famous firm named after him


Arthur Edward Andersen was the son of John William Andersen and Mary Aabye Andersen. His parents had immigrated from Norway to the US in 1881 and in 1885, Arthur was born in Illinois. However, Andersen did not have a lot of time to stay with his parents. His parents passed away since his age of 16.

Anderson graduated from Northwestern University. He obtained a degree in business there. The process of his study was hard. It was because he had to study at night and work full time during the day in order to earn the sufficient tuition fee.

What they are famous for

Before graduating from the University, Andersen already obtained a job offer from a company in Chicago as the controller of the company. Then, he started his career in accounting. He became the youngest Certified Public Accountant of Illinois in 1908.

After several years of work in the company, he obtained the enough money to acquire an audit company. The company was eventually named as the Arthur Andersen & Co. in 1918.

While he was working in the accounting field, he did not forget the importance of education. He was the associate professor in the Northwestern University and also the professor later. He was the head of the accounting department of the university back then and he tried his best to provide his knowledge to students. He always thought that training in accounting field should be done in school and also in the firms. Therefore, he spent a lot of time to prepare his lectures and to teach the university students with the information that he regarded as important.

How they affected the world today

As mentioned above, Andersen devoted a lot of time to educate students. He is influential to the accounting field. He served as the chairman of the examiners of Illinois Certified Public Accountants and he led the board to make the examination more close to the real life experience in auditing and accounting. This was the important step that he had taken to help future accountants to be more prepared before entering the field.

The motto of Arthur Andersen was ‘think straight, talk straight’. Therefore, integrity was one of the important elements of accounting and auditing in his mind. He would not deceive clients and he would not deceive the readers of the auditing report made by him. Therefore, he would try his best to ensure the quality of the work performed by his company. He encouraged his staff to tell the truth instead of hiding the truth for his clients. Before he passed away, Arthur Andersen grew rapidly and gained a lot of supports from the public and the clients. Unfortunately, his absence led to the dissolve of his company. In 2000, the Enron scandal happened and the firm was found to be unethical in the practice of accounting. Many people at that time thought that the company would not run to such trouble if Arthur Andersen was still there to lead the company.

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