Infographic: Big Four Accountancy Firms

October 19, 2016 by in category Blog tagged as , , , , , , , with 0 and 55

A visual reference detailing the world’s Big Four accountancy firms

For the best part of the 21st Century, multinational businesses have turned to the Big Four accountancy firms for their accounting needs. This handy little infographic gives you a bit of information on the Big Four practices. Being as the infographic was created in 2013, some of the details are a bit out of date. For a start, Ernst and Young are now referred to as EY. They are now the third biggest accountancy firm in the world (three years ago, the fourth biggest).

KPMG are now the fourth largest firm of the Big Four. Number One of the Big Four companies is Deloitte with PricewaterhouseCoopers in second place.

A Little Bit More on the Big Four Accountancy Firms

Deloitte LLP:

Deloitte is the largest constituent of the Big Four accounting practices. The company was formed in 1845 in London by William Welch Deloitte. He was also the first auditor to be employed by a public company. That of the original Great Western Railway. He opened his first New York City office in 1880. Several mergers later, including the merger of Touche Ross in 1989 (as Deloitte and Touche), it now employs 244,400 people worldwide.

  • Founded: 1845, London.
  • HQ: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City.


As with Deloitte and the other Big Four practices, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ history is punctuated by many mergers. The oldest part of the group, Price Waterhouse, was formed in 1865, itself a merger of accountancy practices held by Samuel Lowell Price in London (1849), William Hopkins Holyland and Edwin Waterhouse. In 1854, William Cooper set up his practice with American partners, Lybrand, Ross Brothers and Montgomery following suit in 1898. This would lead to the creation of Coopers and Lybrand in 1957.

Coopers and Lybrand merged with Price Waterhouse in 1998. The former partner was linked with Deloitte and Touche from 1990 to 1992 in the UK.

  • Founded: 1998, London (merger of Price Waterhouse, and Coopers and Lybrand).
  • HQ: The Portland Building, London.


Prior to 2013, they were officially known as Ernst and Young, though colloquially known as EY. In 2013, the unofficial name became its official one. The company has its roots in the original partnership, Harding and Pullein from 1849 (also joined by Frederick Whinney). Ernst and Ernst was formed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1903 by Alwin C. Ernst and his brother, Theodore. Arthur Young and Co. was formed in Chicago in 1906 by Arthur Young. Both Ernst and Whinney, and Arthur Young and Co. merged in 1989.

  • Founded: 1989, (merger of Ernst and Whinney, and Arthur Young and Co.).
  • HQ: 1 More London, London.


One of the best-known accountancy practices with public and private sector concerns, their roots stretch from 1870. William Barclay Peat joined a London accounting firm and took over the firm. In New York City (1897) Marwick Mitchell and Co. was founded by James Marwick and Roger Mitchell. Twenty years later (1917), across the English Channel, Piet Klijnveld and Jaap Kraayenhof opened an accounting firm known as Klynveld Kraayenhof and Co.

The merged company began operations in 1987. In 1997, they tried to merge with Ernst and Young, but this was scuppered by the merger of Coopers and Lybrand with Price Waterhouse.

  • Founded: 1987 (merger of Peat Marwick International and Klynveld Main Goerdeler).
  • HQ: Amstelveen, The Netherlands.

Presented by Peach Wilkinson Accountants, 19 October 2016.

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