According to the latest global network rankings from International Accounting Bulletin (IAB), the megafirm saw global fee income rise by 4% to $35.356bn (£24.413bn), some $156m ahead of Deloitte which brought in fee income of $35.2bn, up 3%.
EY, in third place, was the best performer of the Big Four with global fee income up 5% to $28.655bn, while KPMG was the worst. Its fee income shrank by 2% to $24.44bn.
Nevertheless, its fourth position in the rankings is not under threat. BDO may be ranked fifth but is nowhere near KMPG in size – indeed BDO would have to more than double its turnover just to close the gap.
But with fee income up 4% to $7.304bn, BDO is also in a league of its own sizewise. Despite leapfrogging Grant Thornton International (GTI) into sixth place, RSM’s revenue is more than $2.6bn behind BDO’s.
RSM saw its fee income grow by 6% to $4.641bn, while GTI saw its income fall to $4.632bn (down 2%).
Best performer in the top 10 went to Baker Tilly International, ranked eighth, which saw its global fee income rise by 7% to $3.807bn. Ninth and tenth places went to Crowe Horwath international (up 2% to $3.507bn) and Nexia International (unchanged at $3.083bn) respectively.
Just how important the Big Four are to the world’s economy is graphically illustrated by their share of the global accounting market – together they account for 66.5% with a combined fee income of $123.65bn. Together the other 25 networks earned just $38.987.4bn.
Regionally, Deloitte dwarfs the rest of the Big Four in the Americas with 99,398 staff and fee income of $18.3bn (PwC is second with 66,517 staff and $14.993bn fee income). PwC dominates in the rest of the world.
As far as international associations are concerned, Praxity leads the rankings by a long way, with combined fee income from its member firms of $4.487bn (up 3%). In second place is LEA Global with $3.023bn (no change) and in third is GGI Geneva Group International with $2.311bn (up 8%).
IAB editor Vincent Huck says that 2015 saw social and environmental issues increasingly impacting on the business environment. These included “the threat of terrorism, war and tensions in the middle east, elections in key economies in Africa and Latin America, environmental disasters, and of course the so-called ‘migrant crisis’ which shook the foundation of the European Union”.
Despite all this, he says, the global networks and associations performed well. Overall networks grew by 2% and associations by 5%. However, he warned, currency fluctuations – including a strengthening dollar in 2015 and currency devaluation in Latin America, China and Russia – have had a dampening effect on some firms’ results.