The world’s largest accounting firms are starting to feel the
effects of recession but in 2008 they still produced solid growth.

As counter-cyclical practices flourish, firms
are trimming workforces and using flexible work schemes to manage
staff as certain services suffer lower demand.

Despite this, 2008 will be remembered as a
successful year for the Top 100. The combined revenue of these
firms was $95.6 billion, the result of 9 percent growth. About half
a million staff worked at Top 100 firms, including more than 34,000

Deloitte US is the largest firm in the world
and generated revenue of nearly $11 billion in the year to 31 May
2008. To put this into context, that is more than double the
combined fee income of the 25 largest firms in Australia.

US firms dominate the list, contributing 19
firms, followed by counterparts in the UK (12), and France and
Germany (6 each). Firms from 22 countries are represented in this
survey. By geographical region, Europe contributed 56 percent of
participants, the Americas 28 percent, Asia-Pacific 14 percent and
Africa 2 percent.

The Big Four dominates in terms of combined
member firm revenue, contributing 89 percent of the total. Deloitte
firms produced 26 percent of total revenue, PwC’s contingent
contributed 23 percent, Ernst & Young members earned 21 percent
and KPMG firms generated 19 percent. Mid-tier firms account for the
remaining 11 percent of fee income.

The Top 100 has been compiled using
International Accounting Bulletin data. Although the
majority of the largest national firms are represented, it has
proven difficult to obtain reliable data from a few markets, such
as India and Russia. Therefore, there are no Big Four
representatives from India, and only PwC Russia is included.

It is important to note that our research
ranks firms by fee income and not workforce size. If the number of
employees were used as a yardstick, firms in China would be better
placed than they are currently.

The fact that only a handful of large regional
US firms do not incorporate global network branding underlines how
truly global these organisations have become.

Although 2008 growth remained steady, most Top
100 firm leaders are less optimistic about 2009. Just this month,
Deloitte UK revealed its revenue contracted by 2 percent on 2008
results (see Deloitte UK’s gross revenue on slide), while
BDO Seidman recently reported a 6 percent drop.

Revenue share of networks: 2008


To see the full results and analysis, turn to

Top 100 research: Survival of the

Top 100 firms
At a glance


Largest by revenue:
Deloitte US, $11 billion

Smallest by revenue:
Rödl & Partner, $167 million

Highest growth rate:
PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata, 165%

Highest contraction:
UHY Advisors, -7%


Largest workforce:
Deloitte US, 44,825

Smallest workforce:
Ernst & Young Ireland, 1,015

Most partners:
Deloitte US, 2,942

Source: International Accounting