In 1977, when Heath L. Kline, chief executive officer of Priority One Electronics, hired Neal Elias, the head of a small certified public accounting firm, he thought he had his accounting problems licked. Elias would provide Priority One, a wholesale distributor of computer components in Chatsworth, Calif., with tax auditing, and accounting services, as well as act as an all-purpose business adviser. But with Priority One's sales growing at more than 134% compounded annually, the job became too much for one man to handle. So, in 1983, Kline decided to hire another accounting firm to help out. The only question was, which one?

Letters were sent out to Big Eight accounting firms, asking if they had any interest in serving Priority One. Although Kline knew the Big Eight firms were courting smaller companies, he was surprised by the intensity of their response.

"They wanted us, and they let us know they wanted us," Kline remembers. "Immediately, they called and asked, 'Can we get to you today? Tomorrow?' They inundated us with booklets, then told us this was just the beginning of what they could provide. They spent hours learning about our particular business, then talked with me in person. They asked us if we had questions, then called to see if we had more questions." In the end, Kline settled on Arthur Young & Co. "They called the most often -- as late as 10 p.m.," Kline says "It's their persistence that did it."

Ten years ago, such dogged pursuit of a small company's business by Big Eight accounting firms was unusual, despite the fact that, under the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Code of Professional Ethics, CPA firms could respond to inquiries from prospective clients. Direct solicitation was prohibited, but that part of the hallowed canon is kaput, thanks to a 1977 U.S Supreme Court ruling that allows professional service firms to advertise. The present AICPA code permits CPAs to make cold calls on prospective clients, conduct direct-mail campaigns, and even take out ads in newspapers and magazines.

In short, accounting firms are now doing what other businesses have been doing for years -- competing. They are pressing the flesh, engaging in price wars, trying to out-razzle-dazzle each other. Out are the green eyeshades. In are words like "marketing," "targeting," and even, in certain circles, "penetration." As Richard A. Connor Jr., of CPA Marketing Systems (a division of Synergy Corp.), a consulting firm in Springfield, Va., says, "Some of these firms are real piranhas."

With their new-found aggressiveness, the accounting firms hope to gain a chunk of the small business market -- something they considered "small change" just a few years ago. "The Big Eight," Connor says, "knows what it's looking for -- tomorrow's Apple, Xerox, or IBM."

And to find them, they're going to great lengths, as the case of Deloitte Haskins & Sells's hot pursuit of Catalyst Technologies Inc., in Sunnyvale, Calif., illustrates. About two years ago, Jack Peth, the partner in charge of small-business services for Deloitte in San Jose, Calif., heard about Catalyst, a company that nurtures startups by providing them with centralized financial and clerical services for 6 to 18 months. After that, they strike out on their own. Great idea, Peth thought. Great source of new clients, his colleagues at Deloitte agreed.

Landing the Catalyst contract became, for Peth, a mission. His first step was to meet with John Anderson, Catalyst's executive vice-president, then with Nolan Bushnell, the corporation's founder and owner. Would those two men consider hiring just one accounting firm to serve all the companies under Catalyst's wing? Peth wanted to know. They would, Anderson and Bushnell responded. So Peth set out to assemble an "engagement team," Deloitte's version of a strike force.

"We had two tax people, two or three small-business department personnel, a management consultant, all the people we thought we would need to be responsive to Catalyst's management," Peth recalls. "We wanted to have enough contact with them, [because] we knew they weren't going to make a decision in a one- or two-hour meeting."

On that point, he was correct. It took Catalyst three months to decide to hire Deloitte Before the search was over, Catalyst's management had spoken with each of the Big Eight firms, including Arthur Young, which handles Nolan Bushnell's personal finances; and Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co., which serves another of Bushnell's companies, Pizza Time Theatre Inc.

But Deloitte hung in. Its CPAs conducted lengthy meetings with Catalyst's management, quoted a fee below its normal rates (it won't say how much), and offered an "on site approach." This included establishing a permanent office at Catalyst's Sunnyvale facility, with a Deloitte staff member present several days a week.

Why go to such lengths for a single company -- even one with the potential of generating additional business? Accounting firms, particularly the Big Eight, have to. After years of kowtowing to the largest corporations, the Big Eight is finding it hard to expand. "What is happening with the Fortune 1,000 is what I call zero sum growth," says Connor of CPA Marketing Systems. "The accounting firms -- because their clients aren't growing -- aren't getting anywhere, either. They need small business."

Connor isn't talking out of school. The Big Eight admits they have a problem. "We're not going to increase our chargeable hours by trading Fortune 500 companies," says Howard Miller, Peat Marwick's national partner in charge of Private Business Advisory Services, echoing the sentiments of his peers. "The only way we're going to increase our chargeable hours is to have more clients, and clients that are growing."

But local, regional, and Second Tier firms need the business of small business, too. "In the state of Virginia in 1982," says Connor, "owner net income dropped or leveled off in roughly 70% of the accounting firms. It's getting critical out there."

That is bad news for accountants, certainly, but it is good news for smaller companies. The reason? The stiff competition is having the same effect on accounting as it has on other industries. It is producing improved service, and it is prompting good old-fashioned rate wars. In short, small businesses can now demand -- and get -- more attention from their accountants. And they can, if they are in the market for a new CPA, be courted by the country's most prominent firms. "The biggest benefit from all the increased competition," says Robert Owen, the partner in charge of Arthur Young's Entrepreneurial Services Group, "is that small companies have been educated to the fact that there are tremendous resources available at a reasonable cost."

Traditionally, small companies regarded small CPA firms as their accountants of choice, but no more. "In the old days," says Catalyst's Anderson, "if you started a new company, you used the CPA firm you always used. Now firms have to bid for your business and make a strong effort to keep it. It's a lot tougher for them now. They have to continue to sell and prove themselves.

Touting their new "small business teams" is one way the Big Eight are selling themselves to small companies. Touche Ross & Co. ballyhoos its Private Companies Advisory Services Group. Coopers & Lybrand talks up its Emerging Business Services, and price Waterhouse trumpets its Comprehensive Professional Services. At Peat Marwick, the emphasis is on Private Business Advisory Services, and at Arthur Young, it is the Entrepreneurial Services Group. The names of the Big Eight's small-business teams may differ, but, in truth, they are all the same.

Local, regional, and Second Tier firms, on the other hand, don't have small-business departments. They don't need them, they insist, because their entire practice is at small business's beck and call. But, like the Big Eight, they have jumped into the promotional fray to get small companies' attention. One firm, Kennedy/Chaintreuil & Bailey in Rochester, N.Y., has even offered clients free use of its paper shredder (12 takers, so far).

The list of tools most accounting firms now use to court small companies reads like a page from Marketing 101 -- surveys, speeches, seminars, direct selling, brochures, newsletters, and advertising. Much of the advertising to date has been "institutional," geared to improve name recognition. But some ads are quite specific. Oppenheim, Appel, Dixon & Co. in New York City, for instance, wants to be known as the accountant of the financial services companies, and it advertises accordingly. "When it comes to the securities and brokerage industries," the firm said in a recent ad, "OAD's a guiding principal. We do more work and have more top people in these industries than any comparable firm."

An equally straightforward approach is taken by Clifton, Gunderson & Co. Shortly after opening an office in Chicago, it took out an ad in a regional business publication, saying, "Should your business be making more money? Our management advisory services team can help. . . . An operational review can identify weaknesses in your organization and provide assistance to maximize effectiveness and efficiency and, as a result, improve profitability."

In Alexander Grant & Co.'s new ads, the firm promises to turn small companies' bookkeeping departments into profit centers with its new microcomputer system. One of the ads has a picture of a darkened building with a lone office's windows lit. Inside stands a weary executive. "It's 10 p.m.," the ad states. "Unfortunately, you do know where your controller is."

There is no hard evidence that small companies sign on with a given firm because of its advertisements, brochures, or seminars. But in the hope that there is a correlation, accounting firms are pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into marketing efforts. Coopers & Lybrand publishes Emerging Business: Washington Newsletter and Executive Alert Newsletter, two monthly publications aimed at the small-business market. Ernst & Whinney publishes Ideas, a semiannual magazine for the "owner/manager" of privately owned businesses, and Touche Ross has Private Companies Review, a newsletter published bimonthly. Arthur Andersen & Co.'s monthly publication for closely held businesses, The Insider, competes with Main Hurdman's bimonthly Executive Action Report.

With its seminars, Touche Ross is teaching small companies "money-making, money-saving strategies that can be put to work immediately," says Harvey Braun, national director of client services and development. Two examples, he says, are the conferences the firm held last year in Rochester, N.Y., and Houston. Their purpose was to show business how to apply for a $50,000 grant through the Small Business Innovation Research Act of 1982.

Kamanitz, Freiman & Uhlfelder in Baltimore sponsors seminars, one of which is designed to acquaint clients' spouses with tax, financial, and estate planning. Fox & Co. is reaching out with its workshops to the increasingly large market of women Professionals. It is also co-sponsoring seminars with brokerage houses and regional banks on tax and finance topics.

For all the accounting firms' hoopla in going after small business's business, however, the services the large CPA firms provide aren't that different from those offered by smaller firms. And there is a reason. Accountants are a homogeneous group. They make their livings following "Generally Accepted Accounting Princi- ples," and that, by itself, precludes much individuality. As John A. Thompson, Main Hurdman's managing partner and CEO notes, "We sell a generic product."

What the Big Eight accounting firms, as a group, offer small growth companies are contacts -- contacts with underwriters, bankers, and venture capitalists. When a company goes public, most underwriters insist that it hire a Big Eight accounting firm to audit its financial statements -- even if, like Telecommunications Specialists Inc., based in Houston, it doesn't want to. "But we're no fools," says Robert Resnick, president and CEO of the $24-million-a-year company. "If it'll help us appeal to investors, we'll have to spend the additional money to secure a Big Eight."

The Big Eight, many people claim, has an "in" with the Securities and Exchange Commission. "The SEC will deny it, I'm sure," says M. William Benedetto, executive vice-president and manager of corporate finance for Dean Witter Reynolds Inc., in New York City, "but, yes, processing is quicker with a Big Eight."

Nonsense, says the SEC. "If a small company asks, 'Do we need a Big Eight or a Second Tier firm to go public?' " William Wood, associate director of the SEC's Division of Corporate Finance in Washington, D.C., says, "our answer is no."

Underwriters also insist on large accounting firms for public stock offerings because, they say, a Big Eight name adds credibility to a company's financial statements. Insists Thomas I. Unterberg, chairman and senior managing director of L. F. Rothschild, Unterberg, Towbin, the Wall Street investment banker, "Big Eight instills confidence in investors."

Actually, a Big Eight firm instills confidence in underwriters. "To reduce uncertainty, you shoot for a large firm," says Bob Pangia, vice-president of Kidder, Peabody's technology group. A similar point is made by Michael Roberts, senior vice-president of Smith Barney Harris Upham, and Benedetto of Dean Witter. "The first question asked if something goes wrong is, 'Why didn't you go with the big guy?" notes Roberts. "Frankly," says Benedetto, "I wish there was a way around this [Big Eight] orientation. But there's a legal risk. Without a Big Eight, we're more open to liability."

Underwriters, Benedetto points out, have reason to lie squeamish When they value a company, they use numbers provided by accounting firms. Mistakes by those firms can prompt investment bankers to sell the stock at the wrong price, and, for that, underwriters can be sued.

Like underwriters, bankers believe that Big Eight accounting firms add a stamp of integrity to a company's financial statements. Unlike underwriters, they don't insist on a Big Eight firm. "At first blush, it's nice to have a Big Eight firm, but a Second Tier firm is fine with me," says Daniel W. McLaughlin, a vice-president of Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. "It's when you get down to the three-person shops and 'home accountants' that I worry."

Whether a large national accounting firm can improve a company's relationship with its bank depends, in part, on where that corporation is located and the size of its lending institution. "Our loan limit to any individual customer is $5 million," notes Hal Dumler, vice-president of The First National Bank of Topeka, Kans. In his mind, a company applying for that size loan doesn't need a national accounting firm.

But some bankers, like those at Chase Manhattan, actually go out and meet their clients' accountants. "We want to know if they do more than just minimal Generally Accepted Accounting Priniciples," says McLaughlin of Chase Manhattan. "Do they indeed go through the inventory? These are questions we ask."

National accounting firms' influence with banks varies by the lending institution. Some banks look to accounting firms for referrals and maintain close ties with them, others don't. First Federal of Pittsburgh estimates that 15% of its referrals come from accountants. On the other side of the coin, Don Stout, senior vice-president of the banking operation division of Georgia Federal Bank in Atlanta, insists, "We don't expect accounting firms to refer clients to us."

With venture capitalists, it is a different story. They do expect accountants to refer businesspeople to them "There's a very definite symbiotic relationship between venture capitalists and the accounting firms," says Rodney L. Goldstein, a partner in Frontenac Venture Co. in Chicago. "We tend, as an industry," he adds, to take very little for granted If we know someone or some firm is good, that feels better."

What that means, of course, is that venture capitalists prefer to work with bigname firms. "A company should go first class all the way," says C. Richard Kramlich, managing partner of New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm in San Francisco. "First class means the Big Eight."

But venture capitalists don't always insist that their clients employ the largest accounting firms. "We don't push for any one type of firm," says Charles Coulter, president of American Research and Development, a Boston venture capital firm. "We recognize the value of a Big Eight and a Second Tier, but we want our clients to get good value for their money." In fact, about half of the companies American Research funds employ Big Eight accountants.

One corporation that kept its regional firm did so only after convincing its venture capitalists, Frontenac Venture and Golder Thoma & Co., that the CPA had "industry specific" information. "I think it's a damn shame," says Marcus Kostolich, CEO of Bulk Logistics Inc., a freight-forwarding company incorporated in Chicago in the summer of 1983, "that the smaller firms are discriminated against for doing good jobs for companies like us "

Another reason Kostolich's regional firm, Mueller, Hillsman & Co., won points from the venture capitalist was its relationship with Coopers & Lybrand. The regional accounting firm, as a rule, calls in Coopers when a project gets too big for it to handle.

The practice of small and large accounting firms working cooperatively on projects is growing more common. In Detroit, for example, Touche Ross has entered into an agreement with Rehmann, Robson, Osburn & Co. of Saginaw, Mich, to jointly provide tax, audit, and management consulting services to businesses in the mid-eastern region of Michigan's lower peninsula.

These arrangements make good sense for all parties involved. The national accounting firm provides the services that aren't available from the regional firm and, in that way, gains access to new clients. The regional firm, meanwhile, keeps its client base stable and out of the clutches of the Big Eight, and small business is able to tap the expertise it needs without shifting to another firm Bankers and venture capitalists like the idea, too. "There are a lot of businessmen who don't want a Big Eight, and we don't demand they get one," says McLaughlin of Chase Manhattan. "But to our smaller companies we say, look, keep your three-person shop, make them the internal accountants, then bring in Ernst & Whinney. Split your fee."

Fee, as might be expected, is another hot issue Smaller accounting firms generally charge less than the Big Eight or Second Tier, but there are signs that the gap between the large and small firms" fees is narrowing. Kline of Priority One Electronics pays its local CPA more ($100 an hour) than it does Arthur Young ($80 an hour on average).

Almost all of the Big Eight firms concede that, to secure an account, they will "buy into" it, meaning they will provide accounting services at cut-rate prices, sometimes below cost. There are even reports of low-balling, although some firms, like Coopers & Lybrand, deny that they take part in the practice. "I've heard that for several years now," says Peter R. Scanlon, Coopers & Lybrand's chairman, of the rumor that his firm low-balls. "When you're successful, people have to find some way to take shots at you."

Scanlon may be right, but the price competition is real, and shopping around can result in real savings for small businesses. The CDX Corp. in Aurora, Colo., switched from Deloitte to Weiss Carr & Co., a local firm, and, in doing so, reduced its accounting bill by more than $5,000 -- with no noticeable decrease in the quality of services. The U.S Mineral and Royalty Corp, in Oklahoma City, chopped its auditing till in half when it dumped Arthur Young for a local firm, John L. Quaid in Wewoka, Okla. Edgewood Bancshares Inc., in Countryside, Ill., cut 25% to 30% from its accounting costs by switching from Feat Marwick to Deloitte.

Connor of CPA Marketing Systems recounts the case of a Big Eight firm that wanted a contract so desperately that it gave the audit away for $1 (it hopes to make up for its losses in management consulting fees). He also cites the experience of a small chemical company in Maryland The company asked Big Eight accounting firms to submit bids for an audit When the bids came in, they ranged from $3,700 to $12,700 The low bidder even offered free tax services.

Oddly enough, Maryland isn't even one of the areas where competition among accounting firms is especially tough. That list, says Richard A. Levine, national director of management consulting and marketing for Main Hurdman, includes New York City, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Dallas, and, of course, Silicon Valley. In Dallas, the competition is so stiff that accounting firms are setting up shop in North Dallas, just 10 miles from their downtown offices.

The opening of additional offices is just another way the Big Eight and Second Tier are selling themselves to small business. The new facilities, they argue, enable them to "be closer" to small companies. In the past year alone, Peat Marwick branched out to three new locations. Ernst & Whinney, however, maintains the largest number of offices, with 112 locations (see table, page 82), followed by Deloitte (102), Peat Marwick (97), and Coopers & Lybrand (94). Main Hurdman, a Second Tier firm, ranks seventh in offices (84).

The one peculiar twist in the current competitive sweepstakes is that the Big Eight can't agree on a definition of small business At Arthur Young and Ernst & Whinney, small companies have revenues of under $50 million. Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand, meanwhile, don't measure revenues at all. Instead, they look at the client's "service needs." The lack of a consensus definition, critics say, is a sign that the firms don't understand small companies.

Aside from that, small business's principal complaint about the Big Eight is that too much of the accounting work is performed by people fresh out of school. "The Big Eight," says McLaughlin of Chase Manhattan, "often sends out recent business school graduates" to serve clients Comments Resnick of Telecommunications Specialists, "Using a Big Eight, we're a small fish in a big pond. And the work at a Big Eight is handled by associate people. You get textbook accounting. You're dealing with college graduates with three to five years of business experience.

Richard Thalheimer president of The Sharper Image, a $100-million-a-year mail-order company in San Francisco, found this generalization alarmingly on target. "I walked into Price Waterhouse one day," he remembers, "and I saw one of the new accountants reading Accounting Standards. He had the book opened to the chapter entitled 'Inventory,' and he was reading the first sentence. I thought to myself, 'Why do I need to pay all this money for someone who is still reading his business right out of a book?"

An accountant, the old joke has it, is someone hired by successful people to explain to the government how they did it But, as many small companies know, CPA firms do more than correspond with the Internal Revenue Service. Accountants, as a rule, are the principal outside financial advisers of small business. Sometimes the advice accounting firms provide is good -- as in the case of Century Industries Inc., a wholesale distributor of hardware and building products in Milwaukee. And sometimes it is bad, as the story of Fifth Season Travel Inc., in Indianapolis, illustrates.

When Bob Hillis became Century Industries's chief financial officer, he found that the company's books were a mess, so he hired Arthur Andersen to straighten them out. The firm ended up helping Hillis structure a leveraged buy-out and negotiate a way for the company to escape tax penalties that had accrued as a result of problems with its profit-sharing plan and state income taxes.

"It's safe to say we probably wouldn't exist today if it hadn't been for Arthur Andersen's help," says Hillis, now CEO of the $35-million-a-year company. "It cost a lot, that's for sure, but then it's worth the money when the life of your business is at stake."

Fifth Season Travel, on the other hand, didn't survive because of its accountants. It survived in spite of them. In 1977, when Patti McVay joined the financially troubled company, her two-man CPA firm was pessimistic about the future. "We were looking at how we might save the company," McVay remembers. "They were looking for graceful ways out."

So she hired another firm, but it, too, advised her to throw in the towel. McVay refused and stuck to her strategy. Fifth Season Travel would prosper, she was convinced, by concentrating on business rather than vacation travel, and she was right Today, the company's annual sales top $30 million, and it ranks third on the 1983 INC. 500 list of the country's fastest-growing privately held companies. As for accountants, Fifth Season has a new firm -- Arthur Young.

"With the two smaller firms, we spent all our time teaching them," McVay explains. "With the larger firm, we get advice, feedback The Big Eight can compare us with other travel agencies. They suggest operating forecasts and plans. They tell us to think about fringe benefits, better records filing, computers. An auditing firm," she adds, "can be more useful as a counselor than as an auditor." Resnick of Telecommunications Specialists agrees. "Auditing," he says, "could basically be done by a gorilla."

In the eyes of small business, what separates CPA firms is not the tax, accounting, and auditing work they perform, but the management advisory services they provide. When Kline of Priority One Electronics needed management people, Arthur Young provided assistance. Its headhunters delivered a handful of resumes. When Ted Fonk, president of Colorado Lace & Dry Cleaning Co., a 20-store chain in the Denver area, decided to purchase software for his microcomputer, he called in Alexander Grant to help him choose appropriate programs.

"The accounting firms," says Peter B. Wilkinson, a marketing management consultant for CPA firms in Paoli, Pa., "are going back to the original purpose of accounting, which was to help somebody run his business."

What should small companies expect from their CPAs? That they speak their language, not legal or tax jargon, that they provide timely and continuous attention, that they understand the company's business, and that they provide good advice, says Maurice J. Whalen, managing partner of the Washington, D.C., office of Fox & Co. To that list add personal involvement of the partners, assistance with banking relationships and with others in the financial community, personal financial planning, skills in business analysis and planning, and problem solving.

The competition for the business of small business is prompting the CPA firms to take note of the way they treat their small clients. And it is making it easier for small businesses to change CPA firms without bankers, venture capitalists, or underwriters suspecting that something is wrong. "Now, in the hustle for clients," says Pangia of Kidder, Peabody, "it's perfectly kosher to switch."

CONSULTING VS. AUDITING:

HOW THE MAJORS RANK

% of gross fees

Mgmt. advis. Accntg. &

services Auditing Tax

Arthur Andersen 27% 52% 21%

Pannell Kerr Forster 18 63 19

Laventhol & Horwath 17 62 21

Peat, Marwick, Mitchell 16 59 25

Ernst & Whinney 15 65 20

Coopers & Lybrand 14 66 20

Touche Ross 13 64 23

Kenneth Leventhal 12 652 27

Arthur Young 12 64 24

Price Waterhouse 12 67 21

Baird, Kurtz * Dobson 11 57 32

Alexander Grant 10 65 25

Deloitte Haskins & Sells 8 73 19

Clifton, Gunderson 5 61 34

Fox 4 65 31

Main Hurdman 4 69 27

McGladrey Hendrickson &

Pullen 9 57 34

Seidman & Seidman 4 60 36

Cherry, Bekaert & Holland 2 71 27

Oppenheim, Appel, Dixon 2 55 43

Source: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

HOW THE ACCOUNTING FIRMS STACK UP

No. of No. of No. of No. of No. of SEC

pros partners employees offices clients

Arthur Andersen (1) 12,251 (2) 1,076 (1) 15,837 (10) 66 (1) 1,900

Peat, Marwick, Mitchell (2) 9,905 (1) 1,284 (2) 12,200 (3) 97 (6) 919

Ernst& Whinney (3) 8,320 (3) 1,058 (4) 10,620 (1) 112 (5) 961

Coopers & Lybrnad (4) 7,227 (4) 923 (3) 10,706 (4) 94 (4) 989

Price Waterhouse (5) 7,000 (7) 629 (6) 8,500 (5) 87 (3) 1,005

Deloitte Haskins &

sells (6) 6,350 (5) 794 (5) 8,794 (2) 102 (2) 1,465

Arthur Young (7) 4,959 (6) 741 (7) 7,413 (6) 86 (8) 553

Touche Ross (8) 4,680 (6) 794 (8) 7,085 (8) 81 (7) 723

Main Hurdman (9) 2,242 (8) 523 (9) 3,506 (7) 84 (9) 219

Alexander Grant (10) 1,645 (11) 340 (11) 2,485 (11) 60 (11) 180

Laventhol & Horwath (11) 1,485 (10) 343 (10) 2,826 (14) 41 (10) 185

Lennell Kerr Forster (12) 1,000 (14) 148 (14) 1,127 (15) 40 (17) 32

Fox (13) 985 (12) 254 (13) 1,805 (12) 57 (12( 129

McGladrey Hendrickson &

Pullen (14) 930 (9) 412 (12) 2,049 (9) 78 (14) 52

Seidman & Seidman (15) 662 (13) 176 (15) 1,117 (16) 37 (13) 62

Oppenheim, Appel, Dixon (16) 437 (15) 77 (16) 747 (13) 52 (18) 25

Kenneth Leventhal (17) 3120 (18) 47 (17) 487 (19) 11 (15) 36

Clifton, Gunderson (18) 225 (16) 60 (18) 400 (17) 23 (20) 4

Baird, Kurtz & Dobson (19) 192 (17) 58 (19) 328 (18) 14 (19) 78

Mann Judd Landau (20) 150 (19) 30 (20) 180 (20) 8 (16) 35

WHO AUDITS THE INC. 500?

No. of

INC. 500

companies

Arthur Andersen 26

Coopers & Lybrand 22

Touche Ross 16

Deloitte Haskins & Sells 14

Price Waterhouse 13

Alexander Grant 13

Arthur Young 12

Peat, Marwick, Mitchell 12

Ernst & Whinney 11

Laventhol & Horwath 5

Main Hurdman 4

Pannell Kerr Forster 4

McGladrey Hendrickson & Pullen 2

Cherry, Bekaert & Holland 1

Seidman & Seidman 1

Big Eight 126

Second Tier 30

All others 344

Source: INC.