Global accounting firms are on the path
to recovery in a year that welcomed a new leader of the pack. While
2009 will be remembered as a year of hardship and revenue
contractions, the past 12 months has seen growth return, albeit at
much more muted levels than pre-financial crisis days.
Of the 44 global networks and
associations surveyed, 60% reported either US dollar growth or flat
revenue on their 2008/2009 fiscal year results. The combined
revenue of global firms was $144bn, which is not quite a return to
the glory days of 2007/2008, when the group generated revenue of
What these results highlight is a
steady recovery for global firms, despite challenging trading
conditions in the US and UK – the two largest accountancy markets.
Much of this growth is being fuelled by the key emerging economies
China, India and Brazil, where global firms are being rewarded for
Audit and accountancy services
performed admirably among the top 10 global networks, while
advisory and consulting proved a mixed bag. Risk management,
internal audit and due diligence services are in demand but
corporate finance and IPO work is still at a lull although firm
leaders expect activity to return as the M&A market continues
to pick up.
Cross-border tax advice, including
transfer pricing, proved to be the service with the most consistent
In terms of litigation, 2010 was a
better year for global firms than 2009, but troubles in Ireland
could lead to more litigation this year.
The spread of IFRS is motoring along
and providing opportunities in many Asian markets for firms, while
it now seems that the US will adopt and it unveils its roadmap this
year. 2010 is also the year the role of the auditor came under the
spotlight as politicians in the EU and UK review the audit industry
and its future path.
There has been a minor reshuffle in
this year’s global top 10. Deloitte has taken pole position for the
first time from rival PwC and PKF International has moved into
Deloitte became recognised as the
highest earning network in October when PwC released its results.
The difference between the two networks is staggeringly small –
Deloitte’s revenue was $26,578m while PwC brought in $26,569m. In
2009, PwC earned $71m more than Deloitte but this year PwC is $9m