Finds Europe Region of the Big Four Accounting Firms Grew the Slowest in 2011

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One-of-a-kind study reveals unique insights into the world’s largest accounting firms: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers PwC. Our exclusive look at eight years of Europe’s financial performance shows interesting trends across firms, geographies and service lines.

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Europe represents about 45% of global revenues, staying flat 2004 to 2010, though a dip from 2008 to 2011 is becoming very noticeable. Europe grew slowest in 2011.'s recent insightful analysis of the distribution of revenues across the three key geographic regions for the Big Four accounting firms shows variation both in terms of structure and growth from 2004 to 2011. This analysis critically examines the reported revenues on a global and regional basis to determine annual growth rates and contributions to worldwide member firm revenues on a common basis across the firms.


The distribution of revenues by geography shows some very interesting insights. Contrary perhaps to common belief, Europe (including generally Europe, Middle East and Africa), rather than the Americas region (including Canada, the US and South America), has the highest percentage of total revenues for the Big Four firms, averaging 43% of total worldwide revenues. Americas average about 40% and the Asia Pacific countries (including India, South Asia, China, North Asia and Australia) have the remaining 17% of the revenue share.


Europe, surprisingly, is the largest region by revenue for all Big Four firms. The Big Four firms typically combine Europe, comprising the developed countries of Western Europe, the up and coming markets of Eastern Europe with Middle Eastern and African nations for a giant EMEA region. Europe represents about 44% of global revenues, and as we see across the years, this total percentage has remained remarkably flat from 2004 to 2010, though a drop from 48% in 2008 to 44% in 2011 is becoming very noticeable. In 2004, 46% of combined firm revenues were reported from the Europe region, and in 2011, there has been a slight drop to 44% of total firm revenues came from Europe.

Overall, the region’s revenues increased 5.4% from 2010 to 2011, with Deloitte up 3.0%, PwC Up 5.3%, E&Y up 5.5% and KPMG up 7.7%. Europe was roiled by volatility and uncertainty regarding Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain in 2011 and thus recorded the slowest growth among all three region. Europe’s loss of share is also due to rapid growth in Asian revenues.

As in Americas, each firm has a different percentage of European revenues as a share of the total revenues. KPMG at the high end sources 52% of its revenues from Europe (KPMG Europe LLP being a key contributor) while Deloitte at the low end has only 36% of its revenues from Europe, this situation being a total opposite of the Americas. Ernst & Young and PwC each have 45% of their total revenues from Europe, in line with the total firm average.

This diverse European region comprises both of mature markets such as the United
Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany, as well as fast growing Eastern European nations - Poland, Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania; Middle Eastern nations of UAE, Kuwait, Israel and Qatar; and African countries – South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria being prominent.

The Big Four firms have had spectacular growth in Eastern Europe as these high growth economies have matured into capitalistic markets, requiring sophisticated audit, tax and transaction services. More recently, Middle East and Africa have been much stronger sub-regions, albeit from a smaller base. For example from 2010 to 2011, PwC reported that Middle East and Africa revenues grew 19.9% from 2010 to 2011.

This analysis may be reproduced or distributed in parts or whole, but prominent and full attribution should be given at all times to “The 2011 Big Four Firms Performance Analysis by”

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Kristy Short
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