Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited saw its highest revenue growth in the past four years, reaching $31.3 billion worldwide for the fiscal year ending May 31, 2012.

Aggregate revenues grew 8.6 percent in U.S. dollars and 8.3 percent in local currency, the strongest revenue increase since 2008, the firm said Wednesday. Deloitte member firms experienced growth across all three major geographic regions, led by exceptional results in the Asia Pacific region, the Americas, and a number of developing markets, as well as across all business lines and industry sectors.

Financial advisory services led the way in terms of growth, at 15 percent, propelled by several significant cross-border, cross-functional client engagements, and through acquisitions that broadened Deloitte’s capabilities in its priority markets. 

Consulting revenue grew by 13.5 percent, fueled by growth in new and emerging markets. Demand for services in business intelligence, enterprise applications, finance transformation, M&A, and HR transformation were dominant growth drivers.

Financial advisory and consulting services were the clear leaders. “I think it would be fair to say they are clearly among our high-focus areas,” said DTTL global CEO Barry Salzberg in an interview with Accounting Today. “The results are because of the emphasis that we’re placing in those areas, and the attention that our firm is placing in investing in those areas, to meet client needs and to solve client problems. However, our growth is broad across all of our businesses and across all of our geographies, and across our industry, so the good news is while the businesses [of financial advisory and consulting services] grew very fast, the entire aggregate of the Deloitte member firms grew by 8.6 percent, which is very positive, as it’s pervasive across the entire organization.”

Among other service areas, audit and enterprise risk services revenue grew by 6 percent at Deloitte. Audit grew most rapidly in the firm’s priority markets, especially in the Asia Pacific region. Tax and legal revenue grew by 4 percent, driven by continued implementation of enhanced service delivery models in compliance, reporting and advisory services, as well as by the introduction of new service offerings, especially in priority markets. An uptick in cross-border consultative services and strong growth in the Asia Pacific region also propelled growth.

“Our fastest-growing geography is the Asia Pacific, making it the fastest growing region for the eighth consecutive year,” said Salzberg. “This year, the rate would be just over 16 percent. Clearly there are markets that have experienced double-digit growth in a number of places, particularly our India practice and our China practice. In Europe Middle East and Africa, we’ve got a number of firms like Norway, Greece and Luxembourg, and Africa also growing double-digit percentages as well as our U.K. firm.”

Revenue in the Americas grew 7.9 percent. The “LATCO” group, which includes member firms from Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, grew 16.3 percent. Deloitte’s U.S. firm grew by 9.1 percent.  Europe, Middle East, and Africa revenues increased 6.4 percent. Member firms in Africa, Norway, Greece and Luxembourg all experienced double-digit growth in local currency. Deloitte UK grew by 11 percent in local currency.

The fastest-growing industry for Deloitte was energy and resources, with revenue increasing 24 percent. Life sciences and health care grew by 13 percent, consumer business and transportation by 11 percent, and financial services by 10 percent. Financial services generated more than one-fourth of the firm’s total industry revenue.

Deloitte continued to focus on hiring, developing, and retaining talent to expand its business activity. In FY2012, the network hired 51,400 professionals. The total workforce worldwide now exceeds 193,000 professionals, and the organization is well on its way to achieving its growth goal of 250,000 professionals by fiscal year 2015.

Deloitte University
In addition to the continued focus on hiring, and to support strategies to be recognized as one of the top organizations for developing leaders, Deloitte is investing heavily in leadership development globally. This commitment is demonstrated by Deloitte University, a $300 million learning and development facility located outside of Dallas, where Deloitte professionals come together to connect, share ideas, and identify new and innovative solutions to critical and complex issues facing global businesses.

“For sure this was a very strategic investment for us and critical to our strategy, which focuses on hiring, developing and retaining our top talent, and producing future leaders for Deloitte,” said Salzberg. “It is no question for us a strategic investment, and one that we’re seeing produce some dividends in terms of how our people feel, and the quality of our development programs. The mere fact that more than 40,000 professionals from over 70 countries have attended Deloitte University over the last year is an example of what we’re doing there, because if we weren’t developing quality programs that are producing tangible results, these people wouldn’t be coming back. So I think it’s really an outstanding commitment to developing world-class leaders, and I believe the investment is paying off.”

Economic Uncertainty
However, Salzberg isn’t sure that Deloitte’s financial results reflect an overall improvement in the world economy.

“I think it’s a mixed bag, to be frank, across all sectors and across the entire globe,” he said. “Some companies are growing well, while others are impacted more severely by the economy, and the impact of the Eurozone crisis, the slowdown in emerging markets in particular, so I wouldn’t say it’s universal. But I do think there is evidence that there are some businesses that are doing well, and others are being cautious because of the uncertainty regarding a number of issues, including the Eurozone crisis, the U.S. market, oil prices, regulation and elections. There’s so much uncertainty that a number of companies are not investing money for their future or hiring more people. I think it’s a matter of turning that uncertainty around for some of these companies before they return to investment and fuel some additional growth.”

However, Deloitte is managing to grow despite all the uncertainty. “For us we’ve got a very good market right now,” Salzberg added. “Companies are in need of consultative services. We continue to provide very important and needed audit and audit-related services. For us, the market is OK, it’s doing all right. We’re outperforming the GDP growth of the countries in which we operate.”

Deloitte has been growing in part through acquisitions around the world. “Over the course of the year we made 30 strategic acquisitions in key markets and areas that we’ve been investing in specifically,” said Salzberg.  “Those 30 strategic acquisitions are across our entire network and across a number of our businesses. Additionally we’ve hired numbers of people that are experienced that might come from the same company where we didn’t acquire the business, but we just hired people. That would be in addition to those strategic acquisitions, fueling what I call ‘inorganic growth.’”

Salzberg expects to make further acquisitions in the year ahead. “One of our strategic focus areas is to make appropriate acquisitions to scale our business where scale is needed,” he said.