The closure of Arthur Andersen, No. 4 on last year's list of largest accounting firms, plus a cutback by No. 3 Pricewaterhouse-Coopers helped drag down total accounting employment in L.A. County by 11.2 percent.
While a large portion of the 900 accounting professionals at Anderson, officially shuttered in August, were scattered among other firms, the employment base of accounting professionals in the county declined by 839, to 6,641 this year.
The biggest gainers were No. 1 Ernst & Young and No. 2 Deloitte & Touche, which added 112 and 70 accounting professionals, respectively.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, which holds onto its No. 3 spot, shed more than 205 accounting professionals, a 20 percent decline from last year, after selling off business sections due to restrictions imposed by the recently enacted Sarbanes-Oxley Act. No. 4 KPMG showed a loss of 28 professionals, less than 5 percent, of its total of 610.
Among the smaller firms, No. 11 Grant Thorton gained 11 professionals and moved up seven places. No. 27 American Express and No. 29 CBIZ each shed 18 accounting professionals.
Ernst & Young LLP
Ernst & Young repeats as the largest accounting firm in L.A. County, boosted by the addition of 112 accounting professionals in its four L.A. offices, for a total of 1,415.
Coming off an explosive 34 percent increase in professional employment last year, Ernst & Young added 8.6 percent to its staff for the year, widening its lead over No. 2 Deloitte & Touche to 64 professionals.
In addition to adding close to 100 people from the professional staff at defunct Arthur Andersen LLP, Ernst & Young's L.A. office picked up 13 major clients, including Hilton Hotels Corp., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Stamps.com, according to Anthony Anderson, managing partner of the firm's Pacific Southwest region.
Anderson expects continued growth in the local offices, projecting an addition of 50 to 60 people in 2003.
"I expect sizable growth in entertainment, real estate, financial services and retail/distribution/manufacturing," he said. "We'll continue to attract new clients and grow our relationships with the existing ones."
Nationally, Ernst & Young is ranked third behind PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte & Touche in terms of revenues and professional staff. Headquartered in New York, it was formed out of the 1989 merger of Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young, both with origins dating back to the turn of the 20th Century. In 2000, the firm reworked its global organizational structure with the sale of its consulting arm to Cap Gemini of France.
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