Photo of IAB editor Arvind HickmanThis
year’s Top 100 proves, without doubt, that firms in emerging
economies are catching up to their Western counterparts.

Our research, which draws on a
year’s worth of International Accounting Bulletin data, as
well as research on new firms not covered in our surveys, shows
that firms in Latin America and Asia-Pacific are climbing up the
Top 100 list.

Although this isn’t a new or
surprising development, what is interesting in this year’s report
is the addition of more Big Four firms outside of Europe and North

Firms in Brazil, South Korea and South
Africa are rapidly rising up the Top 100 league table by as much as
5, 10, or 20 positions in two years.

In fact, PwC Japan has grown so
rapidly that it has leapfrogged 51 firms since our last report was
published in 2009.

While this year’s Top 100 makes great
reading for emerging markets, the news for Europe and the US is not
so rosy – six in ten firms suffered revenue contractions and most
of those were from these regions.

Firms in the UK, Germany, France and
the Netherlands, traditional accountancy powers, are slowly sliding
down the ladder by between three to seven positions on average. One
firm in Germany lost 20 positions, while the French Big Four are
moving out of the Top 20 for the first time I can remember. The UK
lost three firms from this year’s list while the US shed two

This is no cause for concern. League
tables such as these provide clues to broader economic trends.

Western economies suffered most during
the global financial crisis, where fee pressure was most extreme
and M&A activity ground to a halt.

It is also expected that developing
countries, and their accounting professions, will grow at a much
faster rate than those in mature markets.

Although Deloitte may have marginally
more global revenue, PwC has the most Top 100 firms with 22, and it
might surprise readers to see who comes in at second.

See A new world
for a full analysis of this year’s Top 100.

Land of

I had the pleasure of presenting a
market overview at the annual Geneva Group International Latin
America conference in Colombia recently.

Held in the capital Bogotá, I was
taken aback by the warmth and patience shown towards me by
delegates after receiving a 35-minute talk in English.

It is clear that Latin America is a
region in rapid growth, our own research even backs this up, and
there is a huge amount of optimism among business leaders.

This was my first time in Latin
America and I was struck by how developed Bogotá already is; it’s
certainly a different impression than what you might get watching

I’d like to offer a big muchas
to all my GGI friends who made me feel at home in such
a beautiful part of the world. I certainly hope to come again.

Arvind Hickman