The Big Four

The Curious Past and Perilous Future of the Global Accounting Monopoly

Ian D. Gow (Author) | Stuart Kells (Author)

Publication date: 08/28/2018

The Big Four
With staffs that are collectively larger than the Russian army, the Big Four accounting firms are a keystone in global finance --but do they really provide stability and safety? Leading scholar Ian Gow and award-winning writer (and former KPMG director) Stuart Kells warn that a house of cards may be about to fall.With staffs that are collectively larger than the Russian army and combined revenues of over $130 billion a year, the Big Four accounting firms Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG are a keystone of global commerce. But leading scholar Ian Gow and award-winning author Stuart Kells warn that a house of cards may be about to fall. Stretching back to the Medicis in Renaissance Florence, this book is a fascinating story of wealth, power, and luck. The founders of the Big Four lived surprisingly colorful lives. Samuel Price, for example, married his own niece. Between the world wars, Nicholas Waterhouse collected postage stamps while also hosting decadent parties in his fashionable London home. All four firms have endured major calamities in recent decades. There have been hundreds of court cases and legal prosecutions for failed audits, tax scandals, and breaches of independence. The firms have come so close to "extinction level events" that regulators have required them to prepare "living wills." And today, the Big Four face an uncertain future thanks to their push into China, their vulnerability to digital disruption and competition, and the hazards of providing traditional services in a new era of transparency. This account of the past, present, and likely future of the Big Four is essential reading for anyone perplexed or fascinated by professional services, working or considering working in the industry, or simply curious about the fate of the global economy.

Read more and meet author below



PDF eBook:
9781523098026

$27.95
(member price: $19.57)
Free shipping on all orders from the BK Publishers store.
Or find a local bookseller with Indiebound.

Other Available Formats and Editions

9781523098033

$27.95
(member price: $19.57)

9781523098019

$27.95
(member price: $25.16)
Bulk Discounts
Rights Information


Featured Books



More About This Product

Overview

With staffs that are collectively larger than the Russian army, the Big Four accounting firms are a keystone in global finance --but do they really provide stability and safety? Leading scholar Ian Gow and award-winning writer (and former KPMG director) Stuart Kells warn that a house of cards may be about to fall.With staffs that are collectively larger than the Russian army and combined revenues of over $130 billion a year, the Big Four accounting firms Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG are a keystone of global commerce. But leading scholar Ian Gow and award-winning author Stuart Kells warn that a house of cards may be about to fall. Stretching back to the Medicis in Renaissance Florence, this book is a fascinating story of wealth, power, and luck. The founders of the Big Four lived surprisingly colorful lives. Samuel Price, for example, married his own niece. Between the world wars, Nicholas Waterhouse collected postage stamps while also hosting decadent parties in his fashionable London home. All four firms have endured major calamities in recent decades. There have been hundreds of court cases and legal prosecutions for failed audits, tax scandals, and breaches of independence. The firms have come so close to "extinction level events" that regulators have required them to prepare "living wills." And today, the Big Four face an uncertain future thanks to their push into China, their vulnerability to digital disruption and competition, and the hazards of providing traditional services in a new era of transparency. This account of the past, present, and likely future of the Big Four is essential reading for anyone perplexed or fascinated by professional services, working or considering working in the industry, or simply curious about the fate of the global economy.

Back to Top ↑

Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Ian D. Gow

Ian D. Gow is director of the Melbourne Centre for Corporate Governance and Regulation at the University of. Melbourne. Professor Gow has served on the faculties of Harvard Business School, where he taught in the MBA, doctoral, and executive education programs, and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He has held positions at Morgan Stanley, General Motors, Stern Stewart & Co. and Andersen Consulting. Author s Residence: Melbourne, Australia



Visit Author Page - Stuart Kells

Stuart Kells is a Melbourne-based author. He was formerly Assistant Auditor- General of the state of Victoria, and a director at KPMG. He also worked at Deloitte, S. G. Warburg and, after the 2008 financial crisis, with one of the receivers of Lehman Brothers. His history of Penguin Books, Penguin and the Lane Brothers, won the Ashurst Australian Business Literature Prize.

Back to Top ↑


Table of Contents

Prelude: Science, Magic and the Prehistory of the Big Four Accounting Firms
Introduction
Part I: Infancy
Chapter 1: Glory, Not Infamy (The Medici Bank as a precursor to the Big Four)
Chapter 2: Transported (How the Big Four began in the dangerous world of nineteenth-century accountancy)
Chapter 3: A Curious Match (The remarkable founders of the Big Four)
Part II: Maturity
Chapter 4: Mere Automata (Staking out the Big Four's turf)
Chapter 5: An Injudicious Change (Adventures and misadventures in Big Four branding)
Chapter 6: Porn Star (The culture of the Big Four)
Chapter 7: The Most Average Guys in the Room (Big Four professional values)
Part III: Difficulties of Adulthood
Chapter 8: Unqualified (Auditing as the foundation of the Big Four brands)
Chapter 9: Clean (The impairment of Big Four auditing)
Chapter 10: Get Ready to Dance (Conflicting interests in Big Four taxation services)
Chapter 11: One Four Ten (The Big Four in China)
Part IV: Twilight Years
Chapter 12: Disrupted (The obsolescence of Big Four technology)
Epilogue

Back to Top ↑

Endorsements

"Major international accounting firms play a fundamental role in the governance of the world's largest public companies. The quality of financial statements is crucial for evaluating executives and valuing firms. The Big Four delves into the origin of these firms and the role they play in businesses around the globe. As for many organizations, the future for accounting firms is uncertain. How will this profession adapt to its new environment? The Big Four tells the reader what to expect. This is a must-read for executives and directors alike." David Larcker, James Irvin Miller Professor of Accounting, Stanford Graduate School of Business; Professor of Law (by courtesy), Stanford Law School; and Senior Faculty, Rock Center for Corporate Governance, Stanford University "Who would have ever thought that one would find a deep understanding of the issues facing today's Big Four in the rise and fall of the Medici bank? Gow and Kells provide a riveting analysis of the historical antecedents to today's Big Four structures and strategies and leave us totally unsettled in considering the industry's future. A unique approach of historical comparisons results in a must-read volume of an essential industry that is poorly understood. I could not put it down." Leonard A. Schlesinger, Baker Foundation Professor, Harvard Business School, and President Emeritus, Babson College "A fascinating book . . . I highly recommend it." Ticky Fullerton, Sky News Business "Great fun. I enjoyed it." Phillip Adams, Late Night Live, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Back to Top ↑