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Big Shots

Are your chances of landing a big accounting firm following Enron down the drain?

By C.J. Prince

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When the founders of Giving-Capital Inc., a Philadelphia-basedcompany that provides online donation services, first went shoppingfor an accounting firm for tax services in 1999, they had theirpick of mid-tier local firms. Instead, they chose a Big Five firmthat could grow with them, provide networking connections thatsmaller firms couldn't and, most important, be a name theirclients-including American Express, Morgan Stanley and SalomonSmith Barney-could trust. Little did they know the large, reputablefirm they chose, Arthur Andersen, would just a few years later finditself waist-deep in scandal.

Fallout from the debacle has landed GivingCapital in the sameunenviable spot as hundreds of other orphaned Andersen clients. Butas a small business with 35 employees, it would now have to jockeyalongside much bigger companies for the attention of the Final Four(as the remaining top-tier accounting firms have come to be called)and even face competition for mid-tier accounting firms looking toinherit some of Andersen's heavyweight clients.

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