The firm was formed by the merger of two companies, Arthur Young & company and Ernst & Ernst. The busy season typically means long hours of auditing or tax compliance work to meet reporting deadlines for clients. Big Four employees often work much longer hours during the busy season, sometimes doubling the hours worked during the off season. Despite all its resources and inside access to companies, these giants have not been the ones to uncover massive frauds perpetrated by clients that have caused pain for shareholders and investors. For example, Enron and Worldcom were exposed by forensic accounting experts, not their Big Four accounting firms.

Perhaps unsurprisingly there is little difference in the glassdoor ratings of each firm and this most likely reflects the similarity in work they do and the constant movement of employees between them. Notably, Ernst and Young planned to merge with rival KPMG in 1997 but the deal fell through due to antitrust issues, client opposition, and cost. The company rebranded as EY in 2013 and also acquired Parthenon consulting to expand its consulting practice.

Audit quality and ethics

This past year they got into global mining and metals which could bring the much sought after growth they are hoping and planning for. The merger of these two companies could be a great increase in both revenue and growth in their Denmark divisions. Their companies merged in 1989 to form Ernst & Young, long after the two had passed away. Both men opened their original firms with their brothers, and passed away within days of each other.

However, an overarching theme with salaries in this industry is that they vary for factors such as location, experience, and department. Often, salary compensation is one of the motivators for a job at one of these firms. Deloitte has a heavy focus on the quality of their people whilst the other three balance people, environment, and learning opportunities between them. In all the considerations of whether PwC, KPMG, Deloitte or EY is the right company for you, it should be taken into account that the company fits your individual career goals and personal preferences. In the following, we have tried to define the most important aspect that could convince you to apply to the respective company. After all, the Big 4 differ significantly in their strategic focus areas, which should simplify a decision depending on the focus.

  • With $50.2 billion of revenue earned during its 2021 fiscal year, Deloitte is the largest of the Big Four firms.
  • This oligopoly consists of Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young (EY), and KPMG.
  • A lot of people on WSO complain about how awful the grunt work can be, but working closely with a company’s management to close a deal can be a really rewarding experience (even at the analyst level).
  • Like Deloitte, PwC has maintained a steady growth in revenue over the past 10 years.
  • Here, about 44% of total revenue per fiscal year is generated from auditing, which is well ahead of all other competitors.

KPMG, on the other hand, is increasingly focusing on the consulting business. Since an audit mandate may not be accepted in parallel with consulting, the share in auditing is accordingly much lower. KPMG is investing heavily in digital transformation and the use of technology to improve its services.


The four accounting firms offer a wide range of services, including audit, tax, risk management, financial advisory, accounting, management consulting, and more. They are known for their vast expertise and high prestige on a global and local level. The accountancy firms currently making up the Big 4 are Deloitte, EY (Ernst & Young), PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), and KPMG (Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler). All four of them offer the usual auditing services provided by smaller accounting firms, although usually on a much larger scale. They also provide a wide range of tax, strategy and management consulting, as well as valuation, market research, assurance and legal advisory services.

One of Canada’s Big Four auditing firms has a significant number of problems in its work for the second consecutive year, the national industry regulator has found. Join an interview with CPA Recruiter Beth Dierker of Accountingfly, who has advised hundreds of accountants in finding new roles. She will update you on the current job market for tax and accounting professionals. As well as teach you how to identify and select the right opportunity, interview, follow through, and handle the tricky aspects of your job search. It will help you navigate the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement if you want to pursue a career in the Big Four’s financial services sector. PwC, founded in London in 1849, is the second biggest accounting firm in the United States.

EY, the third largest of the Big 4 firms, had revenues of $45 billion in 2022 and employs more than 365,000 people worldwide. Headquartered in London with a presence in over 150 countries, EY offers a wide range of services including audit, tax, business advisory, transaction advisory. EY is particularly known for its commitment to business ethics and compliance. The firm is therefore particularly attractive to those who value high ethical standards and social responsibility in their work. 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.

Despite overall company growth, Deloitte’s 2021 United States revenue declined from 2020. Arthur Young combined with Ernst & Whinney while Deloitte Haskin & Sells merged with Touche Ross to reduce the group count to six. Then, Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand merged their practices, making the total five. Following the collapse of Arthur Andersen, due to its proven culpability in the Enron scandal, the five became the present-day four.

KPMG – Another Great Place to Work

When someone becomes a partner, they are no longer a traditional employee of the firm, but instead a part owner in the partnership of the firm. That doesn’t happy like a typical promotion – it comes with a serious capital investment. Just like salary and total compensation varies based on the line of service, location, and industry, the buy-in for partnership can differ depending on the partner’s role, area, and how much business they oversee. Recent partners have reported buy-ins averaging between $150k at the low-end, to upwards of $750k in high-end groups. There are a few reasons that this is so expensive, the most obvious is that it creates a barrier to exit for the newly promoted partners to ensure they stay with the firm.

The Big Four accounting firms

It has an office in every state across the U.S. and operates in 143 countries. During fiscal year 2021, Ernst & Young reported roughly $40 billion of company-wide revenue, an increase of 7.3% from the year prior. I would highly recommend Big 4 to those not interested in IB/consulting. Whether it is FP&A, transitioning to TS, or moving forward with the controller route, just have a plan. In other cases, the client company had significant amount of information only available in electronic form, with no physical documentation of transactions. Yet the auditing firm performed no testing of information technology or other controls.

In audit you get a few years of no life and crappy pay, but after that the workload peters off quite a bit and you get paid decently. You’ll never catch up to what your friends in IB are making, but you’ll actually be able to have a social life. The real sweet deal, IMO, comes when you’re comparing the senior-level guys. If you’re good enough to make it to an equity partnership at one of the Big 4, you’re set. You get paid like 500k-1m+, and you only ever have to do a little bit of selling.

Research: The Talent Shortage is Starting to Take Its Pound of Flesh From Corporate Tax Departments

Since then, Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG have been known as the Big 4 and dominate the market for auditing, accounting and consulting. The majority of listed companies in particular rely on the Big 4, both nationally and internationally. Ernst & Whinney merged with Arthur Young to create Ernst & Young in 1989. Ernst & Young is a global organization of member firms in 150 countries.

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For the audit teams, this is compensated for in part by the sponsoring of exams which cost tens of thousands alone. Their approximate annual growth for 2015 was 8%, which is what is the distinction between debtor and creditor the highest out of the big four accounting firms. The Big Four consulting firms perform most of the auditing work for some of the largest public companies in the world.

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