Auditor Independence

The Big Four global network firms are actively growing their consulting and advisory practices either internally or through acquisitions. For example, in the past five years, they have acquired over 160 consulting businesses, including over 50 in 2015 alone. As a result, the Big Four in the U.S. now dominate the consulting market.┬áThese acquisitions have enabled the firms to expand their service offerings. For example, a U.K. affiliate of one of these firms is now aiming to become a global top-20 legal service provider. A U.S. Big Four firm recently acquired an advertising firm. Today, we see firms providing services not generally associated with accounting firms, such as investment banking, asset management, personnel recruitment, and marketing campaigns, just to name a few.┬áThe audit practice is no longer the centerpiece of the Big Four firms’ practice areas. For several years now the assurance practice has generated less than half of the total revenues at each of the global firms. Domestically, revenue from consulting and advisory services collectively exceeds audit revenue for these firms.

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