Big Four Audit Firms

Big Four Audit Companies


Big Four is the term given to represent the top four audit companies of the world. Ernst and Young, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG together make the Big Four. These companies conduct the audit of many public and private companies throughout the world.

They audit more than 80% of all the public companies in the United States and specialize in other areas such as assurance, actuarial, risk management, corporate legal services, tax, financial planning and consulting.


Initially, there were the Big Eight:

  1. Coopers & Lybrand
  2. Ernst & Whinney
  3. Price Waterhouse
  4. Arthur Andersen
  5. Arthur Young & Co.
  6. Touche Ross
  7. Peat Marwick Mitchell
  8. Arthur Young & Co.


1989 June – Ernst & Whinney merged with Arthur Young to form Ernst & Young

1989 Aug – Deloitte, Haskins & Sells merged with Touche Ross to form Deloitte & Touche

1998 July – Price Waterhouse merged with Coopers & Lybrand to form PricewaterhouseCoopers


So the world was left with only the Big Five which included Arthur Anderson. After the infamous scandal of Enron, Arthur Anderson went out of business and Big Five became the now famous Big Four.



Head Quarters – 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City, New York, USA

Employees – Over 200,000 (2014)

Revenue – Over US$ 34 Billion (2014)

Countries Served – Over 150 (2014)


200x200 Deloitte LogoFound back in 1845 at London, United Kingdom, Deloitte started as the separate companies of William Deloitte, Charles Haskins, Elijah Sells, and George Touche. The three companies eventually merged to become Deloitte & Touche.

Although acquisitions and mergers did help them to an extent but they have mainly remained on the top with the help of strong dedication and commitment towards their clients. In 2011, Deloitte had 1.8% growth and PWC had 1.5% growth, making Deloitte the top firm among the audit companies. In 2011, PWC out-ranked Deloitte and in 2013, Deloitte again took the first place.

Their estimated annual growth for 2012 was 8%, which is the highest out of the big four accounting firms. They have upheld this growth rate over the past four years.




Head Quarters – London, United Kingdom

Employees – Over 195,000 (2014)

Revenue – US$ 34.0 Billion (2014)

Countries Served – Over 150 (2014)


200x200 PWC LogoFounded back in 1849 by Samuel Lowell Price It is the second largest audit firm operating in approximately 157 countries. It re branded itself to PWC in 1998 when Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse merged together. Their major revenue source as of 2014 is Assurance, Advisory & Tax practice. Its headquarters are in London, UK.

The firm has sustained its growth over the years, acquiring and merging with other company’s such as Booz & Co., leading them to become one of the biggest firms in the world & 5th largest in the US.

PWC has reached this level with acquiring skill from over 750 offices across the world it is growing at the pace of 4% every year.



Ernst and Young (EY)

Head Quarters – London, United Kingdom

Employees – 190,000 (2014)

Revenue – Over US$ 27 Billion (2014)

Countries Served – Over 150 (2014)


200x200 EY LogoFound back in 1849 by Harding & Pullein in England. It reformed to Ernst & Young in 1989 when Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young & Co. merged together. With more than 700 offices throughout the world EY is rated third among the top 20 accounting firms in the United States.

Top source of income for EY include Assurance, Tax & Advisory.

In 2013 EY reported revenue of $25.8 billion and 5.8% annual growth rate which is the highest growth rate it has seen over the past 5 years. This is up 1.4% YOY 2012.




Head Quarters – Amstelveen, Netherlands

Employees – Over 160,000 (2014)

Revenue – Over US$ 24 Billion (2014)

Countries Served – Over 150 (2014)


KPMG LogoHistory of KPMG can be traced back to 1870. In 1979 KMG was formed which was further joined by Peat Marwick and the name was eventually changed to KPMG in the late early 90s. Not a lot of people would know that in 1997 EY & KPMG tried to merge and the announcement was also made however it couldn’t happen due to some reasons.

Major source of income for KPMG is Audit, Advisory & Tax.

KPMG is doing fairly well with its growth and has also earned a lot of accolades over the years such as world’s most attractive employer, (2nd) World’s best outsourcing advisers etc.


Good to know – 5th largest accounting firm is said to be BDO International with over US$ 7Billion revenues (2014) & number 6 is Grant Thornton with over US$ 4 Billion revenues (2014).



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