Monday 21 January 2019

'Big Four' - the consultancy industry explained

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

In 2017 the combined revenue of a group known as the ‘Big Four’ was $134.3bn, so just who are they? What do they do? And who are their customers?

The big four refers to PwC, KPMG, Deliotte, and EY.

Together these four companies are the biggest professional service firms in the world.

All four offer their customers’ audit, assurance, taxation, actuarial, and management consultancy. As well as providing audit services to private companies, they also carry out audits of the majority of public companies around the world.

However, none of the four companies are actually a single stand-alone entity, rather, they are made up of networks of firms, each owned and managed independently in numerous countries around the world.

Each individual firm agrees to share the name, brand, and quality standard.

However, the work of some of the big four members has come under scrutiny over the years.

Most recently, the UK Financial Reporting Council (FRC) opened a probe into KPMG's audits of Carillion, after the builder collapsed under a mountain of debt.

Career wise in Ireland the 'Big Four' offer a number of career opportunities for those working in the financial sector.

In addition, they offer opportunities for students including work placements, summer internships, and a graduate programme for students leaving third level.


  • In financial year 2017, PwC firms provided services to 419 companies in the Fortune Global 500 and more than 100,000 entrepreneurial and private businesses
  • 59,252 people joined PwC firms around the world in financial year 2017
  • For the year ending 30 June 2017, PwC’s gross revenues were US$37.7bn, up 7pc on the previous year


  • KPMG serves more than 82pc of the FORTUNE Global 500 and more than 80pc of the Forbes Global 1000
  • Worldwide staff, including partners: 189,000

  • The company had worldwide annual revenue of $25.42bn for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016


  • Approximately 263,900 people employed inn 150 countries
  • Revenues for fiscal year 2017 were $38.8bn


  • Around 247,570 people employed in more than 150 countries around the world
  • Global revenues: $31.4bn for financial year 2017

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