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My Dear Niven... In the late 1 9 t h century, George Alexander Touche( the "e" was added in 1906) and John Dalian tine Niven served as apprentices-10 years apart-to Niven's father, Alexander Niven, a prominent chartered accountant in Edinburgh, Scotland. Many years Inter, after both had become familiar with the business worlds of England and the United States, George Touch and J. B. Niven entered into a partnership for the purpose of practicing public accounting in the United States under the name of Touch, Niven & Co. The following exchange of letters in 1905 between Touch, based in London, and Niven, who ran the operation from offices at 30 Broad Street in New York, reflects the warm relationship of two businessmen from another era. Andrew Wilson Tait, mentioned in the letters, was based in London and would soon become a partner in Touch Niven, as would Herbert C. Freeman. Niven himself later attributed much of his success to his marriage to Susan Gordon, which took place that same year, 1905. London, England, 17thMay, 1905 My Dear Niven, 1 am in receipt of your long Setter of the 7th May with regard to the expiration of the present arrangements, and plans for the future. Before proceeding to discuss these, let me congratulate you on the fact that Miss Gordon has fixed the day on which you are really going to begin to live. I sincerely hope it will prove to be the red-letter day of both your lives. 1 have given careful consideration to everything you say in your letter, and I need not tell you that 1 am by no means unmindful of your own interests. I quite recognise that you might easily have been earning a bigger income elsewhere, although I think it would have been a mistake for you to have taken an official position, or one outside the profession. On the whole, therefore, I have satisfaction in feeling that although the establishment of Touch, Niven & Co. has done nothing for me from a monetary point of view, it has given you an opportunity of establishing yourself in business, free from some of the difficulties and disadvantages which assail a fellow when he commences on his own hook. The crucial point in your letter is that relating to the future division of profits. I quite agree that the old arrangement should now be reviewed; indeed if the business had become more rapidly profitable it was never my intention to interpret our agreement in any strict way. In a business like ours 1 believe in a generous recognition of individual effort, without too close a regard to the precise provisions of the Articles of Partnership, With this preliminary, let me say that when 1 read your suggestion that you should have the first$2,500 and two-thirds of the surplus (with the exception of $150) 1 felt that you were shaping well as a business-getter for the firm. The impulse of the natural man in me would be to promptly accede to your suggestion, but having regard to the whole position 1 hardly think this would be quite a business-like arrangement. It would put me on little better than Agency terms. You must bear in mind, too, that out of my share, when it becomes productive, I ought to make some provision for Tait, who never misses an opportunity of endeavouring to steer business into your Off ice—as Witness, the Scott Snell! At the present time he is pretty hopeful of being able to turn over the New York end of the Saint Lawrence business to your care. The alternative proposition which I would, therefore, make is: (1) That your time, valued at $2,500 per annum, rank pari passu with my Capital, valued at 5 percent; (2) That the profits in excess of these two items be divided between us in equal shares. 38
My dear Niven
My dear Touche
Touche, George A.
Niven, John B.
Touche, George A.
Niven, John B.
|Abstract||Illustration not included in Web version|
Tempo, Vol. 23, no. 2 (1977), p. 38-41
|Source||Originally published by: Touche Ross, & Co.|
|Rights||Copyright and permission to republish held by: Deloitte|
|Format||PDF page image with corrected OCR scanned at 400 dpi|
|Collection||Deloitte Digital Collection|
|Digital Publisher||University of Mississippi Library. Accounting Collection|