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Big Four’s Revenues Solidify Rebound

January 17, 2012

The Big Four firms saw outstanding revenue growth from 2010 to 2011 after a sharp reversal in 2009.

A new study from, a social networking forum for professionals and alumni of Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Accenture, Andersen, BearingPoint and Capgemini,  found that firms have rebounded in the past two years. The severe revenue decline in 2009 marked an abrupt reversal after five straight years of double-digit revenue growth. But firms saw their revenues stabilize in 2010,  and rebound significantly from 2010 to 2011.

After a moderate 2010, fiscal year 2011 saw large increase in revenues for Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers, with revenues increasing between 7.6 and 10.1 percent from 2010. Firms received a strong boost from a general global recovery, enhanced equity markets, improved credit conditions, and better M&A and IPO activity. All of these factors spurred client demand, especially for advisory services and in Asia.

Revenues increased in most developed regions of the world for the Big Four, while growth continued at high levels in the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America.

In 2010, Deloitte surpassed PricewaterhouseCoopers to become the largest Big Four firm, reporting revenues of $26.578 billion and growth of 1.8 percent, just ahead of PwC’s revenues of $26.569 billion and growth of 1.5 percent. Deloitte beat PwC by a small but significant margin of only $9 million.
In 2011, however, PricewaterhouseCoopers regained its leadership position with revenues of $29.2 billion, up 10.0 percent, exceeding Deloitte’s revenues of $28.2 billion, which were up by 8.4 percent, by more than $400 million.

Ernst & Young placed third with 2011 revenues of $22.9 billion but its revenues rose the slowest among the Big Four with a 7.6 percent increase from 2010. KPMG remained the smallest firm of the Big Four with revenues of $22.7 billion, but it had the highest growth at 10.1 percent and reduced the gap with Ernst & Young to only $170 million.

From 2010 to 2011, the combined revenues for all the Big Four firms in U.S. dollar terms rose 9.0 percent to a record level of $103 billion, surpassing the previous high of $101 billion in 2008. Audit revenue increased by 5.7 percent from 2010 to 2011, tax revenue was also up by 7.1 percent, and advisory revenues continued their strong streak, increasing by a solid 15.9 percent.

The depreciating U.S. dollar over the reporting period helped the Big Four firms post higher growth numbers in U.S. dollar terms. In local currency terms, revenues rose by somewhat lower percentage levels. Revenue in the Americas increased 9.9 percent from 2010 to 2011. Revenue in Europe for the firms rose 5.4 percent despite volatility in the region, while revenue growth in Asia jumped 17.4 percent.

For more information, and to download the full study, visit

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