Hey Big 4 – What’s On Your Balance Sheet
Interesting news item today in the Financial Times regarding a special sale of the entire art collection of Deloitte in the UK. It seems that along with some staff, partners and clients of Arthur Andersen, Deloitte also got its hands on their extensive art collection six years ago.
Makes you wonder what other non-liquid investments are on the Firms’ balance sheets. Maybe that’s why they are always crying poor? Is there regulatory oversight over how they invest their partners’ capital, given their special role in providing services to the capital markets and their “importance to the global capital markets” ?
Maybe before we start allowing them legislative exceptions to liability for their wrongful and negligent actions, we should see how well their are investing their own assets given their considerable exposure to litigation.
Who the heck lends them money under these non-transparent conditions?
Sale of the week: The art of business
Sale: The Deloitte Art Collection
Location: Lyon and Turnbull, Royal Academy, Burlington Gardens, London W1, tel: +44 (0)131-557 8844; catalogue online at www.lyonandturnbull.com
Date: Thursday January 10. On view Tuesday 8 and Wednesday 9, 10am-5pm.
Need to Know: Corporate art collections are all the rage nowadays but, in 1968, accountants Arthur Andersen became one of the first firms to adopt the idea of enhancing the workplace with art when its London managing partner set out to acquire high-quality prints to display on its premises. The purchasing remit soon expanded from prints to original works and, from the 1970s until the 1990s, drawings and paintings by leading figures such as Dame Elisabeth Frink, Patrick Heron, Bridget Riley and Patrick Caulfield were added to the collection under the guidance of professional art advisers. Six years ago, however, Arthur Andersen surrendered its US practice licences due to its involvement in the Enron scandal and Deloitte absorbed some of its assets, including the artworks on offer here. Deloitte is selling its entire collection pending a move from The Strand to a building with a more modern interior, which is said to be “unsuitable” for displaying traditional works.
This is an interesting question. The firms all publish (internal) lists of restricted entities, but in my experience, they are typically only clients or affliates.
I can’t recall Deloitte ever stating who their financial institutions are.
It is well known that they are tight as can be with Blackstone (and so maybe Goldman?).
Interesting question, Francine.
Thanks for your comment. I know from my expereince at PwC that at least they are very conscious of the need to be “independent” of those who finance them and bank them. This includes credit lines, recevable securitizations, currency hedging, payroll accounts, partner investment and pension accounts, etc. However, it’s not easy given the myriad of entities they are auditing, that is all the private equity, VC, SIV, etc. types of private firms that they may be involved with not as primary auditor but secondary and perhaps not in the US. Info about activites of foreign affiliates is hard to gather… The key is: Who is monitoring and verifying that they are complying with these requirements? PCAOB? If so, we’ll never know. We can’t see that part of their report…
I’m guessing that your hypothesis (oversight group) is actually correct, in spite of the secrecy shroud.