John Bednarski, a litigation-services specialist, says his eight years with Andersen weren’t even an issue when he looked for jobs last spring. And since he’s joined Detroit-based consulting firm AlixPartners, about one-third of the office’s new hires have been former Andersen employees, with more likely to come. “You had to be an intelligent, fairly affable person to get hired at Andersen, and certainly to survive there,” says Bednarski. “As we’re growing, that’s the kind of people we’re looking for.” Personally, he says he’s in better shape post-breakup, with “essentially the same job” he had at Andersen but at a 40 percent higher salary and half the commute time.
Still, the transitions haven’t all been easy. “We were twice as big as the next-biggest accounting firm in Houston, and you don’t get that way without being good,” says Warren White, who logged 171/2 years with Andersen before cofounding valuation-services firm Avail Consulting LLC this past July. Now, he says, many of his former colleagues who have gone on to other firms are getting “ego shocks” when they are asked to adapt to a new culture. “They’re happy to have a job, but some of them feel somewhat like second-class citizens.” That Andersen partners auditing the clients they have brought with them often get double-checked and shadowed by incumbent partners doesn’t help matters, says Koltin. “Even when it’s not intentional, there’s the implication that somehow the Andersen partner might not be as trustworthy.”
Even Sample says his new job has taken some getting used to, even though he has known most of his new colleagues for years. Andersen “was a highly charged, very demanding atmosphere,” he says, with as many as 1,300 people in the Atlanta office. Now, at the much-smaller Atlantic, “I find myself involved in a lot more of the nuisance issues, things that at Andersen someone else would have dealt with.”
With the illusion of lifetime employment now gone for former Andersen partners, and new restrictions on the types of consulting services big accounting firms can provide, Koltin and others say the job transitions aren’t over yet.
Meanwhile, former CEO Berardino has struck out on a new career path of his own: the lecture circuit. With several big speeches under his belt in 2002, including one at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’s annual leadership conference this past November, he’s slated to cap off another conference, sponsored by The Advisory Board this month in Las Vegas entitled “Winning Is Everything.”
Alix Nyberg is a staff writer at CFO.
U.S. hires of some former Andersen employees.
Source: The companies
BearingPoint (formerly KPMG consulting): 1,575
Deloitte & Touche: 2,500
Ernst & Young: 2,300
Grant Thornton: 500
Protiviti (subsidiary of Robert Half): 760