PwC, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and Deloitte look to have extended their market dominance following the sheer number of insolvencies in recent years
The Big 4 is composed of companies that operate around the world. Two of them, Price Waterhouse Coopers and Ernst & Young, are headquartered in the United Kingdom. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu is also part of this elite group and is based in the United States. KPMG,
headquartered in the Netherlands, rounds out the foursome. While each
has its own unique operating culture, they all share a number of traits
that help to account for their collective success.
Sometimes also known as the Final Four, the Big 4 represents four companies that have cultivated and established an international presence and continue to set the standards for all other firms in the industry. Up to the turn of the century, there were as many as eight firms that were considered internationally dominant in these fields, but mergers and in many cases insolvencies, have meant that there are four sitting clean ahead of the competition. Several factors have made it possible for them to continue expanding, in spite of adverse economic conditions; changes in regulations in various countries and even some of the scandals that have rocked the financial community of late.
One key factor that applies to all four is that they function more like a network than a single entity. What this does is allow them to draw on the strengths that come from being united in general function, while also making it possible for each national and even regional operation to adapt to the culture and legislation relevant to those areas. This adaptability is especially helpful for multinational clients with a presence in several nations, since it gives them the opportunity to work with a single entity, rather than having to arrange a roster of consultants in each country.
Reputation also has much to do with the continued dominance of the Big 4. Simply put, these firms have built up a great deal of respect within the business community, owing to the standard of work they have maintained over many years. When added to the fact that the names of Giam Swiegers, Geoff Wilson, Mark Johnson and Rob McLeod inspire a great deal of confidence among business owners, it is no wonder that each firm finds it relatively easy to hold onto existing clients while also gathering new ones.
While each of the Big 4 has a strong international presence, they are particularly successful in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and India. This is, in great part, due to the fact that all of them were originally formed and built their reputations in one or more of those countries. In the case of the strong presence each of them has in India, they were all quick to see the potential there and established operations long before other firms began to recognise it. Given the fact that these firms have outlasted many of their competitors and continue to be forward looking in terms of expansion, they are likely to be around for many years to come.