Brewster, Mike 1967-
Brewster, Mike 1967-
Born February 23, 1967. Education: Columbia University, graduate degree in journalism.
Home—New York, NY.
Financial services professional and author. Has worked as communications director for KPMG International, beginning 1993, and for seven years at Peat Marwick. Founder of magazine Leaders Online.
Unaccountable: How the Accounting Profession Forfeited a Public Trust, Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2003.
(With Frederick Dalzell) Driving Change: The UPS Approach to Business, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.
Mike Brewster is a former financial services professional who brings his business insight to his writing. In King of Capital: Sandy Weill and the Making of Citigroup, Brewster and Amey Stone present the biography of Sandy Weill, the son of Polish immigrants who forged a tremendously successful career for himself in finance. In Unaccountable: How the Accounting Profession Forfeited a Public Trust, Brewster traces the history of the accounting profession, focusing especially on the reasons behind the major scandals that have plagued it in modern times. Driving Change: The UPS Approach to Business presents a positive portrait of the United Parcel Service (UPS), outlining both the history of the hugely successful company and the policies that helped it to achieve and maintain its success.
King of Capital shows Sandy Weill in a mostly positive light, despite the fact that Weill himself received government and media criticism for his company's part in the financial disasters of the Enron Corporation, WorldCom Incorporated, and Adelphia Communications Corporation. Weill started out in 1960 as a partner in the brokerage firm of Carter, Berlind, Potoma & Weill. Over the next ten years, the firm experienced good growth, and in 1970 it began a string of acquisitions and mergers that eventually resulted in the formation of Shearson Loeb Rhoades Inc., the second-biggest brokerage firm on Wall Street. Weill's career was based on his superior deal-making abilities, strong will, and a philosophy that favored increasing growth. In 1981, he agreed to sell Shearson to American Express, but after the deal was finalized, he found it difficult to work with James D. Robinson III, the chief executive officer of American Express. In 1985, Weill left the company, but within eight years he had built up another empire and bought Shearson back from American Express. He then went on to buy out Travelers Group, one of the country's biggest insurers, and Citibank, the biggest bank in the United States, in order to form the mammoth Citigroup, a single organization that could cover insurance, banking, and securities services.
Weill worked diligently to help get rid of federal regulations that maintained the traditional lines between brokerage services and investment banking. Yet, the blurring of those lines may have been part of the reason for later problems for Citigroup, its clients, and its shareholders; and in acquiring new companies and merging them to maximize profits to shareholders, Weill was ultimately responsible for the loss of many jobs. Brewster's biography glosses over these issues surrounding Weill. A reviewer for Business Week described King of Capital as "a rags-to-riches-to-greater-riches story, recounting Weill's rise from a middle-class Brooklyn boyhood to primacy on Wall Street."
Brewster's next book, Unaccountable, is "several books in one," according to Bristol Lane Voss in the Journal of Business Strategy. It is a history of the business of auditing and accounting, from ancient days until modern times; it is also an explanation, complete with numerous pertinent interviews, of how modern accountants could have failed to notice wrongdoing at Enron, Worldcom, and other troubled companies. In addition, the book offers an analysis of the conflict between the accounting industry's self-image versus its current public image. The author maintains that, historically, the profession of accounting was both powerful and highly trustworthy. He suggests that recent problems stem from accountants' failure to honor the heritage of their profession and to approach it in an intellectual way. Voss found Brewster to be the "ideal" author to probe the question of how, in such a short time, the accounting industry could have destroyed the good image it had held for centuries.
Unaccountable is "the watermark book answering that question," as well as reporting on those who did uncover problems and who worked to make the accounting industry a better-regulated place. A writer for Government Finance Review also credited the book with showing "how the best and brightest within the profession can still save the day by implementing much-needed reforms."
Brewster's third book, Driving Change, was written with Fredrick Dalzell. It is a history of one of the world's most successful companies, UPS. Officially sanctioned by the company, it was published during UPS's centennial year of operation. UPS began in 1907 when Jim Casey, then a teenager from Seattle, Washington, took two telephones, a bicycle, and one hundred dollars to start up a new messenger service. As the business grew, Casey sought to create a positive environment for workers and a positive image for the public. The result was phenomenally successful. As global markets and transportation changed, and competition grew, UPS proved able to change along with the times and continue to be a dominant player in the field. According to Amity Noltemeyer in Business Book Review Online, readers of this book "will see a company that grew largely out of its ability to establish a positive culture, never be satisfied with progress, and encourage the ideal of employee ownership." Reviewing the book for Armchair Interviews, Al Olsen stated that it is "well written, well researched, and surprisingly engaging."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Australian CPA, March, 2004, Derek Parker, review of Unaccountable: How the Accounting Profession Forfeited a Public Trust, p. 21.
Booklist, May 15, 2007, David Siegfried, review of Driving Change: The UPS Approach to Business, p. 9.
Business Week, July 8, 2002, review of King of Capital: Sandy Weill and the Making of Citigroup, p. 18.
Government Finance Review, June, 2003, "New Releases," review of Unaccountable, p. 9.
Journal of Business Strategy, November 1, 2003, Lane Bristol Voss, review of Unaccountable, p. 46.
Journal of Commerce, June 11, 2007, Joseph Bonney, review of Driving Change, p. 6.
New York Times, October 5, 2002, Cara Marcano, review of King of Capital.
Publishers Weekly, May 20, 2002, review of King of Capital, p. 60; April 23, 2007, review of Driving Change, p. 42.
Armchair Interviews,http://reviews.armchairinterviews.com/ (January 30, 2008), Al Olsen, review of Driving Change.
Boston Globe,http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ (January 30, 2008), Nick Carey, review of Driving Change.
Business Book Review Online,http://www.businessbookreview.com/ January 30, 2008), Amity Noltemeyer, review of Driving Change.
Delaware Book Festival Web site,http://www.debookfestival.lib.de.us/ (January 30, 2008), biographical information about Mike Brewster.
Greater Lansing Business Monthly,http://www.lansingbusinessmonthly.com/ (January 30, 2008), Sandra Guinness Lupini, review of Driving Change.
Midwest Book Review,http://www.midwestbookreview.com/ (July, 2007), Gary Roen, review of Driving Change.
Roundtable Reviews,http://www.roundtablereviews.com/ (January 30, 2008), review of Driving Change.
SmartPros Ltd. Web site,http://www.pro2net.com/ (January 30, 2008), Niquette M. Kelcher, review of Unaccountable.