With every new project, Andersen Consulting's power grows, challenging the influence and authority of Arthur Andersen auditors. Though the money is good, the audit side-stuck in a mature, flat market-has seen the writing on the wall. Auditors can't compete with the new and growing revenue streams that their "peers" in consulting are tapping-like mega-outsourcing contracts with J.P. Morgan and CoreStates. The auditors, who have subsequently launched their own consulting services, are going to be usurped, or they will be deserted, say sources. "Andersen Consulting is going its own way whether people like it or not," adds Tom Rodenhauser, editor of Consultants News.
What keeps Andersen Consulting tied to Andersen Worldwide, says one industry analyst, is the exit fee. The "poison pill" is that the consulting partners have to pay Worldwide 1.5 times the consultancy's book value to win independence. Andersen Consulting's only other way out is if a GE or British Telecom were to acquire them.