Price Waterhouse Coopers, the Kenny G of Accounting Firms
(FORTUNE Magazine) – Love lost, love found, her eyes, his kiss, mmmbop...this is the stuff of which pop songs are made. Accounting, no matter how naughty "pooling of interest" may sound, just isn't. Or so I thought until I received an e-mail from a friend in London, with a sound file attached. Opening the file, one hears a jazzy piano introduction. A raspy male voice intones over violins and guitar: "We don't sell no dogmas/What we've got is skill/Price Waterhouse Coopers/For each and every clients' will." Later a female vocalist joins in to harmonize that the 140,000 employees of the accounting and consulting firm (created last year by the merger of Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand) are "servicing it all." This is followed by a rousing chorus, "Your worlds, our people." (To hear it, go to fortune.com.)
Could this be legit? Well, yes--although it took a reportorial odyssey spanning three continents to find that out. A New York spokesman for Price Waterhouse Coopers told me the song was "bogus." When I tried the Australia office, though, a spokeswoman said, a little nervously, "Oh, you know about the song." It came from Holland, she said. She was right. Last year, it turns out, Price Waterhouse Coopers officials in the Netherlands asked songwriter Ruud Mulder (lead guitarist of the 1980s Dutch pop group Spargo) to compose a rock tribute to the newly merged entity. On July 1, all 4,000 of the firm's Dutch employees gathered in Amsterdam to hear a band called Le Voix debut the song. It was a hit. "People used to sing it in the offices here," spokesman Meint Waterlander says.
The people in New York now admit the song is for real. But Peter Horowitz, the firm's senior global public relations director, hastens to note it's just a one-time local initiative. "It's not exactly the Pet Shop Boys, is it?" he says, perhaps revealing more than he should about his own musical tastes. (Pet Shop Boys?) Another New York employee is blunter: "The day that started floating around here, morale dropped off the radar screen. Talk about embarrassing."
Actually, this firm has nothing to be ashamed of. At least two of its rivals have songs, and they're not nearly as good. KPMG's "Our Greatest Moments" is a medley of musical styles--from Michael Bolton to, say, John Tesh; Andersen Consulting has what it terms an "aural signature" called "Change." Deloitte & Touche, Arthur Andersen, and Ernst & Young all deny having any such anthems. Maybe they need them: Accounting don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.