George David Anderson
By 1985, historical commentary stated that the American Institute of CPAs Special Committee on Standards for Professional Conduct had reached a point of alarm: “There has been an erosion of self-restraint, conservatism, and adherence to basic professional values at a pace and to an extent that is unprecedented in [the] profession’s history…. We believe the profession is on the brink of a crisis of confidence in its ability to serve the public interest.” [AICPA Special Committee, 1985, pp 3-4].
During this period of high profile bank failures and corporate bankruptcies, leading the special committee, addressing the crisis and facing the critical turning point was George David Anderson, who had served as the AICPA’s Board Chairman in 1980-81. The grandson of a Scottish immigrant miner, he was expected to enter the family mining business in his hometown of Deer Lodge, Montana, where he had begun his apprenticeship driving a horse drawn ore train for the family phosphate mine.
His life plans and undergraduate education were interrupted by World War II while he was a lead navigator for a wing of B-17 Boeing Flying Fortresses, serving on 32 missions over Germany.
After the war he returned to Stanford, graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and he and his new wife, Norma, returned to Montana. George started his mine, while studying for the CPA examination. His economic sense foretold that mining was not the best route for his family’s future, now about to include three small children. He moved to Helena, joined a firm which he later purchased in 1956 and which evolved into today’s Anderson ZurMuehlen, where he served as Managing Partner until 1984, retiring in 1987.
He was a notable force in Montana, especially in Helena, and was regarded by Industry Week as one of the Nation’s top movers and shakers in 1988. His involvement in professional accounting circles was no less notable, for into his hands fell the task to lead wholesale change of the CPA profession.
The report of the special committee led to the AICPA membership voting to endorse the Plan to Restructure Professional Standards, including actions effecting peer review and continuing professional education altogether a seminal event in the public profession’s history.
George David Anderson (1922-2001) is the Ninety-Fourth member of The Accounting Hall of Fame.
View the 2018 Interview with the Anderson Family