Big Four’s advisory boom eases breakup pain

The pandemic has provided a breakup salve to the Big Four accountancy firms. On Thursday, KPMG reported annual revenue of $32.1 billion, 10% more than last year. Its advisory business, which helps clients with takeovers and restructurings, was the big earner. Its revenue ballooned to $13.7 billion, a 17% annual rise. KPMG’s traditional audit business grew a more sedate 4%.
Overall, KPMG, Deloitte, PwC and EY have raked in $167 billion this year, a windfall that should ease the pain of their advisory businesses having to go solo under an auditing overhaul expected shortly from the UK.
The government wants to prevent a repeat of high-profile collapses like retailer BHS and outsourcing firm Carillion by stopping the big firms seeing bean-counting as a means to an end for their higher-value consultancy work.
That probably means higher audit fees for corporates, and fewer cross-selling opportunities for the consultancy giants. After a bumper 2021, it’s hard to feel much sympathy.

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