Management, Marketing, Innovation and Internationalisation
Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by John R. Bryson and Peter W. Daniels
Chapter 5: The role of the Big 4: commoditisation and accountancy
The Big 4 accounting firms as we know them now comprise four mega global professional services firms: PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG. The combined annual fee income for these firms is over $100 billion and together they employ approaching 700,000 talented professionals. These four firms impact directly or indirectly on every business, government and organisation in just about every corner of the planet. Every year the Big 4 train over 100,000 new professionals, and the majority leave following the formal part of their training to develop their careers in industry and commerce. This global training programme has developed probably the largest body of alumni on the planet, with an increasing number of the ‘old boys and girls’ occupying senior positions in just about every large company in the world. From the outside, an impartial observer could be forgiven for concluding that this is a great example of world domination! The reality is that the competition among the Big 4 and with other service providers is intense. The Big 4 operate in a market that has become increasingly sophisticated in the procurement of professional services. Despite this competition (or perhaps because of it?), the Big 4 are a role model for how professional services firms can survive, and indeed prosper, in good times and bad.
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