I recently attended a reunion of Laventhol & Horwath alumni from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. I was employed by L&H from 1982 to 1990, first in their executive office which was based here in Philadelphia, then in the Philadelphia accounting and audit department then in their information systems consulting office.
I started with the firm as a computer programmer in July 1982 in the executive office which was based at 1845 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. I worked directly for a brilliant person, Abe Akresh, who was the National Partner in charge of Accounting and Auditing and was responsible for developing L&H’s automated audit software program. I had to learn from Abe about audit sampling and statistics and then develop computer programs that would carry out these principals. The software was intended for use by the audit staff so that they could efficiently and effectively carry out their audit tests. We wrote our programs in Fortran and used a mini computer from PRIME which was a very popular platform in the early 1980’s.
I wasn’t an accounting major in college, but Abe encouraged me to join the Philadelphia audit staff in the summer of 1983. Since I was expected to pass the CPA exam I had to take a few accounting courses so that I would be eligible to sit for the exam. I worked on a wide range of diverse clients that offered me excellent prospects for career growth. My clients included:
Mr. Goodbuy’s – a Philadelphia based building supplier retailer that was preparing for an initial public offering and which needed 3 years of audited financials.
Philadelphia Gas Works – a public utility that was a quasi government entity.
Cherry Hill Hyatt – a hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Several synagogues in the greater Philadelphia area – I don’t know why I was scheduled on these engagements so much as I was Christian and much of the audit staff was Jewish but they were very interesting entities to learn about.
I passed the CPA exam on my fourth try in May of 1985 and continued my career at L&H.
In 1987, I had the opportunity to join the Information Consulting Staff. We worked for clients helping them decide on their I/S strategy and helping them select the application software they should be using. I had some amazing assignments including:
Samband of Iceland – I lived in Reykjavik, Iceland for several months helping the distribution division of this cooperative company select new software. It was a spectacular experience that satisfied my desire for worldwide travel.
KF Handel – I worked for this entity that was based in Stockholm, Sweden and was a cooperative there (similar to Samband).
A liquor distributor in Atlanta
McCaw Cellular Communications in Seattle – the forerunner to AT&T wireless, among others.
I think it is fair to say that I had a career unlike anyone at Laventhol & Horwath during the 1980’s and was really appreciative of this great firm. Those were the days of the big 8 accounting firms and L&H was the largest of the so called little 4 but L&H was the second largest firm in Philadelphia and the most prestigious. Today there are Laventhol people all over Philadelphia with incredibly prominent positions. I run into people all the time that still think incredibly highly of L&H and many in the Philadelphia community do as well.
Even though L&H stopped trading about 20 years ago, I still look back fondly on the incredible opportunity that they gave me to start my career and learn so much during my initial position after university.