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The Big Four by Stuart Kells, Ian D. Gow

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8

THE MOST AVERAGE GUYS IN THE ROOM

Big Four professional values

Not for sale

In his 1915 book Of Human Bondage, Somerset Maugham described the interior of a nineteenth-century accounting office: ‘It was dark and very dingy. It was lit by a sky-light. There were three rows of desks in it and against them high stools. Over the chimney-piece was a dirty engraving of a prize fight.’ The quality of furnishings conveyed status. At Price Waterhouse’s offices, for example, partners had ornate fireplaces, mahogany desks and Turkish carpets. Clerks warranted none of these luxuries.

Viewed through modern eyes, the daily routines of nineteenth-century accounting firms look like quaint antiques. At the start of each day, commissionaires sharpened pencils, ...

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