This article was first published in the May 2019 UK edition of Accounting and Business magazine.

The 2019 IAB World Survey, which ranks the top accountancy networks and associations by fee income, staff, global revenue and service line, finds that the Big Four have pulled further away from the mid-tier in terms of revenue, with the gap between KPMG and BDO reaching nearly US$2bn.  

Further down the tables, the gap between PKF in 15th and UHY in 16th now stands at US$921.6m, compared to a US$758.9m gap last year, and US$527m the year before. If this trend continues another year, the gap will be over US$1bn next year, meaning the gap will have doubled in four years.

The survey also shows the continuing rise of advisory services, due in part to digital development and the growing need for crossborder advice, although in some cases growth was the result of firms recategorising some work as advisory. One notable change was KPMG’s advisory arm overtaking its audit business in revenue. EY and PwC are still weighted in audit and assurance.

Despite the struggles, the picture for the sector remains broadly positive. The majority of networks and alliances reported global growth.

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Market share 2018: Big Four vs others

Fee income US$43,200 Deloitte 19.4%
Fee income US$41,280 PwC 18.5%
Fee income US$34,772 EY 15.6%
Fee income US$28,960 KPMG 13%
Fee income US$74,462 Mid-tier 33.4%

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Revenue and staff split by region: Big Four

  Americas EMEA Asia Pacific
Staff (%) 33.3 24.1 42.6
Revenue (%) 44.7 16.4 38.9

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Revenue and staff split by region: top 10 mid-tier networks/associations

  North America Latin America Europe Asia-Pacific Africa Middle East
Staff (%) 28 2 53 15 1 1
Revenue (%) 39 8 10 35 5 3

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Networks: fee data (US$m)

Deloitte 43,200.00
PwC 41,280.00
EY 34,772.00
KPMG 28,960.00
BDO 8,999.02
Grant Thornton 5,444.79
RSM 5,369.40
Crowe 4,330.93
Nexia International 4,000.21
Baker Tilly International 3,630.91
Moore Stephens Int’l 3,060.64
HLB International 2,726.84
Kreston  International 2,312.91
Mazars 1,901.80
PKF International 1,494.50

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Associations: fee data (US$m)

Praxity 5,834.64
LEA Global/Leading Edge Alliance 3,313.41
Allinial Global 3,024.24
GGI 2,698.00
Prime Global 2,503.70
BKR International 1,400.00
DFK International 1,182.87
AGN International 1,145.14
Morison Ksi 1,088.96
IAPA 667.60
MSI Global Alliance 625.80
Integra International 532.56
CPA Associates International 529.72
Alliott Group 399.02
INPACT 276.56

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2018 fee income (US$): Big Four vs top six mid-tier networks and others

Fee income US$148,212 Big Four 66.5%
Fee income US$42,730.40 Other 19.2%
Fee income US$31,775.30 Mid-tier 14.3%

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Average fee split (%): Big Four

  2008 2018
Audit and assurance 52 35
Tax 24 23
Advisory 24 40
Other - 2

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Average fee split (%): top networks

  2008 2018
Audit and assurance 53 37
Tax 23 23
Advisory 24 37
Other - 3