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Big 4 accounting firms

Checked for updates, April 2022.

The Big 4 refers to the four largest accounting firms in the world. These firms provide an extensive range of accounting and auditing services including audit, taxation, management and business consultancy, mergers and acquisitions, and risk assessment and control.

Who are the Big 4 accounting firms?

The Big 4 accounting firms refer to the four largest in world today both in terms of revenues and employees. They provide professional services through a vast network of independent member firms around the world.

The Big 4 includes Deloitte, PwC, Ernst&Young, and KPMG. Next to them are BDO, RSM, Grant Thornton, and Crowe.

1. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

DeloitteDeloitte Touche Tohmatsu, popularly known as just "Deloitte", was founded by William Deloitte in 1845. It went through a series of mergers and reorganizations but kept its brand name along with its quality standards and company values. Now, it emerges as one of the most successful brands in the world.

In 2021, it earned $50.2 billion and had approximately 345,000 employees – the largest among the Big 4, in more than 150 countries demonstrating excellence in providing audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, and tax services to clients worldwide. See Deloitte Website

2. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

PWC With $45.1 billion revenues in 2021, PwC is the second largest accounting firm in terms of revenue. It employs more than 295,000 professionals in 157 countries around the world. The company was formed by the merger of two large accounting firms – Price Waterhouse, and Coopers & Lybrand. The two decided to merge in 1998 and dedicated themselves to provide services of value while establishing and maintaining good customer relations.

PwC firms operate locally in different countries around the world. These independently owned and managed firms, like other international companies, share common values and standards. PwC provides excellent assurance, consulting, and tax services. See PWC Website

3. Ernst & Young (E&Y)

Ernst & Young Ernst & Whinney merged with Arthur Young to create Ernst & Young in 1989. Ernst & Young is a global organization of member firms in 150 countries. It employs people equipped with professional skills and values of integrity, respect, teamwork, enthusiasm, and motivation. These form the core values of Ernst & Young.

The organization also values knowledge and skills development, helping around 312,000 employees achieve their potential through professional training and career growth programs. Ernst & Young offers assurance, advisory, tax, and specialty services. Ernst & Young earned $40 billion in 2021. See E&Y Website

4. Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG)

KPMG KPMG is a global network of accounting firms providing audit, tax, advisory, special interest and industry-specific services. It employs approximately 236,000 professionals working together to provide quality service in 145 countries around the world. KPMG earned $32.1 billion in 2021.

The organization was formed in 1987 through the merger of Peat Marwick International and Klynveld Main Goerdeler (KMG). Like other professional service organizations, KMPG places great value on its people and quality of service. See KPMG Website

Some Historical Facts

The Big 4 used to be known as Big 8 made up of (1) Arthur Andersen, (2) Arthur Young & Co., (3) Coopers & Lybrand, (4) Ernst & Whinney, (5) Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, (6) KPMG, (7) Touche Ross, and (8) Price Waterhouse. It was after a series of mergers and dissolutions that brought about the elite four.

In 1989, two huge mergers reduced the Big 8 into the Big 6. Ernst & Whinney merged with Arthur Young to form Ernst & Young; and Deloitte, Haskins & Sells with Touche Ross to form Deloitte Touche. Then in 1998, Price Waterhouse merged with Coopers & Lybrand to form PricewaterhouseCoopers, famously known as PwC. It further reduced the group into the Big 5.

In 2002, the five was cut by one due to the fall of Arthur Andersen after its involvement in the world-shocking Enron scandal. From then on, the four largest existing accounting firms have been known as the Big 4.

Next to the Big 4

Ranking after the Big 4 are: BDO Global, the 5th largest accounting firm with 97,000 employees in more than 150 countries and 2021 revenue of $11.8 billion. RSM International's revenues jumped to $7.3 billion in 2021. Grant Thornton, with its 62,000 employees in 135 countries, generated $6.6 billion.

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