Big 8 Accounting Firms- All About Accounting Firms

Big 8 Accounting Firms


A firm can be defined, as a company that is engaged in some business. The term ‘firm’ usually synonymous with business is a commercial enterprise that primarily sells and buys products, along with providing services to consumers. Today, we’ll know about Big 8 Accounting Firms.

Theory of the firm

  • The theory of the firm aims to express the Existence, Boundaries, Organization, Evidence, and performance of the firm.
  • Firms help in minimizing the cost or optimizing the value of their long-term workers’ and supplier’s properties.
  • The theory also includes many factors like structure, relationship to its market behavior, etc which predict the nature of the company.

Audit Firm 

  • Now that we have covered in short about Firms, let us proceed towards Audit Firms. An Audit Firm is essentially engaged in the business of conducting an audit for other establishments.
  • Any firm should be registered or licensed timely, as per the laws time being in force, and follow such ethical practice expected of them.

The Big Four accounting firms

  • In simple terms, The Big Four is a term denoted to collectively refer to the four largest professional services networks around the world.
  • It is a prestigious designation for any firm. The Big Four are often grouped due to several reasons like their ability, comparability, market values, biggest competitors, etc.

Big 8 Accounting Firms

As of 4th Aug 2021, the top 8 big accounting firms in the United States are:


PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) LLP

Ernst & Young LLP (EY) 



Grant Thornton LLP 

Mayer Hoffman McCann


Below all the firms are discussed in detail.
1. Deloitte

“Deloitte”, short form of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited is the topmost accounting firm among the Big four accounting firm list. 

  • This organization was founded 176 years ago, i.e, in 1845 by William Welch Deloitte in London, England. In 1890, it expanded into the U.S.
  • Deloitte united with Haskins & Sells and Touche Ross in the year 1972 and 1989 respectively and thus was renamed Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, the abbreviation of Deloitte.
  • In the year 2020, Several of the firms’ practices in Europe and North & South America along with Arthur Andersen’s of the UK decided to merge with the firm.
  • Deloitte is an international UK private firm supported by a network of independent legal entities providing service worldwide in Audit, Financial Advisory, Tax, and Risk advisory.
  • As of 2020, 334,800 professionals are working under the company with more than 100 locations in more than 150 countries across the world.
  • Deloitte headquarters is in London, England, UK. The revenue of the firm is $47.6 billion and the current Chairperson and CEO are Sharon Throne and Punit Renjen.
  • The biggest clients of the firm include Federal National Mortgage Association, Microsoft, Apollo Global Management, The Blackstone Group, etc.

2. PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

PwC occupies 2nd position in Big Four accounting firms list. It provides multinational professional services and is a network of firms, working as a partnership under the PwC brand.

  • PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) was founded in the year 1998 by a merger between two accounting firms named Coopers & Lybrand, and Price Waterhouse. In September 2010 as part of the rebrand, the trading name was shortened to PwC.
  • It provides services in the area such as risk assurance, tax advisory, management consulting, forensic accounting, etc.
  • The international firm serves worldwide with headquarter situated in London, UK, and has 742 locations worldwide, operating in 157 countries.
  • As of 2020, the number of employees working under PwC is 284,000 out of which 26% of the workforce works in America, 26% & 32% of employees work in Asia and Western Europe respectively.
  • The total revenue of PwC is $43.0 billion and the current chairman is Robert Moritz.
  • PwC’s biggest clients include United Technologies, Bank of America (Bank Of America Audit Information, Goldman Sachs, American International Group (AIG), etc.

3. Ernst & Young(EY)

Ernst & Young Global Limited, abbreviation for EY is a multinational professional accounting firm specialized in providing service in Consulting, Strategy and Transactions, Tax Audit, and Assurance.

  • It has secured 3rd position among the four Big accounting firms list. 
  • The EY firm was created 32 years ago, i.e, in the year 1989 by merging the two oldest components Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young & Co.
  • The firm was initially named Ernst & Young but, later in the year 2013, it was renamed as EY, because of a re-branding campaign.
  • For the past 21 years, Ernst & Young has continuously been maintaining its place on the list of 100 Best Company to Work For, a section in Fortune magazine.
  • EY like many other international firms provides worldwide service. It has 700 offices and centers in more than 150 countries around the world.
  • With headquarters located in London, England, more than 300,000 employees are working for the firm. 
  • While total revenue of Ernst & Young is $37.2 billion and the current chairman and CEO being Carmine Di Sibio.
  • The biggest clients of firm Ernst & Young include Amazon, Apple, Snapchat, Google. In the year 2017 EY also gained General Motors as one of its biggest clients.


The short form “KPMG” stands for Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler. It is an Anglo-Dutch multinational Professional Services network and occupies rank 4 in the Big 4 accounting firms list.

  • In the year 1987, 
  • The firm was re-titled KPMG peat Marwick in the year 1991, the name was again shortened to KPMG.
  • Although incorporated in the United Kingdom, the organization provides personal worldwide services in sectors namely Actuarial, Advisory, Financial/Legal/tax advice, and consulting.
  • KPMG headquarters is located in Amstelveen, Netherlands. It has a series of a network in 147 countries, with more than 227,000 employees working under the firm.
  • The organization’s revenue is $29.22 billion and the Global chairman is Bill Thomas.
  • As mentioned on KMPG official website, a few characteristics KMPG is looking for in its employees are-

(a)Effective communication

(b)Must be a Critical thinker

(c)Career Motivation

(d)Resilient performance

(e)Must have both technical and professional skills etc

  • As of 2020 some of the biggest clients of KPMG are Accenture, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Pepsico, Halliburton, etc.

5. McGladrey (RSM)

McGladrey merged with its fellow firms under the brand RSM and changed its name to RSM US LLP on October 26, 2015, claiming to strengthen its position as a global firm providing personal services. 

  • RSM term was formed by joining the initials of the original founding member firms named Robson Rhodes (based in the United Kingdom) McGladrey (based in the United States) and Salustro Reydel (based in France)
  • RSM was founded in 1926 as IB McGladery Company by Ira B.McGladery in Cedar Rapid, Iowa. At the beginning of 1999, McGladrey operated under two separate legal entities: McGladrey & Pullen, LLP, and RSM McGladery, Inc. by establishing a partnership with H&R Block.
  • While McGladrey and RSM operated on audit and attestation services, RSM McGladrey provided tax and advisory services.
  • H&R Block announced the termination of the partnership, depriving RSM McGladrey to McGladrey & Pullen. Finally, on May 1, 2012, the firm was renamed McGladrey LLP along with shifting its headquarters from Bloomington, Minnesota to Chicago.
  • Later after 3 years on October 26, 2015, McGladrey was once again re-titled as RSM US LLP, re-establishing as part of RSM International members.
  • The organization occupies 5th position among the list of biggest accounting firms in the U.S. and provides services in the field of Audit & Financial Reporting, Tax advisory, and consulting services. 
  • With headquarters being located in 30 South Wacker Chicago, Illinois, U.S. its service is limited to the U.S. 
  • Currently, RSM has 800 offices located in more than 120 countries. The number of employees working under the firm is more than 43,000 and company revenue is $2.7 billion.
  • Three vital people of this enterprise are Joe Adams as the CEO, Bill Gorman being the COO, and Doug Opheim designated as the CFO.
  • Few of the clients of RSM are Family-owned businesses, Corporations, Middle market, private clients.

6. Grant Thornton

Grant Thornton LLP, is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton international ltd and occupies 6th rank among the U.S. accounting and advisory organizations list. 

  • Grant Thornton is a subsidiary of Grant Thornton.
  • The firm was founded in Chicago 97 years ago i.e; in 1924 by a 26-year-old senior accountant Alexander Richardson Grant along with Ernst & Ernst. Its initial name was “Alexander and Co.” 
  • Alexander left the organization later deciding to join William O’Brien. The firm expanded its business at the international level during the mid-1960s. It united with companies from Australia, Canada, and the U.K. and was re-titled as ‘Alexander Grant Tansley Witt’.
  • In the year 1986, due to its affiliation with Thornton Baker, a U.K. firm, Alexander Grant & Co. was once again renamed as “Grant Thornton”.
  • As stated on the Grant Thornton website, their global mission is “to be the leading business advisors to dynamic organizations by helping them unlock their growth potential.” 
  • The firm has around 59 offices across the United States and provides personal client service in Audit, Tax, and Advisory firms.
  • With more than 8,500 professionals working under Grant Thornton, the company’s annual revenue exceeds $1.9 billion.
  • Its headquarter is in Chicago, Illinois, United States. And the key people are Brad Preber as CEO and Sam Shaw as current CFO. 
  • As mentioned on the official website of the firm, a few of the skills Grant Thornton looks in their employee are:
  1. Collaboration
  2. Leadership 
  3. Agility


(e)Respect and responsibility  

  • Grant Thornton’s largest clients include U.S. Capitol Police, AmeriCorps( Corporation for National and Community Service), U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, etc.

 7. Mayer Hoffman McCann

Mayer Hoffman McCann (MHM) is in the 7th position in the United States list of largest accounting firms. The firm is a subordinate of Kreston International, again a member of the Forum of Firms.

  • It is a national Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firm, providing personal services in the Accounting department.
  • MHM was founded in the year 1954 by Ernst D. Mayer in Kansas City, Missouri. 
  • The organization united with Bill Hoffman’s practice in the years 1960 and 1978 by the addition of Chuck McCann as managing partner, MHM was re-named as Mayer Hoffman McCann.
  • The consulting and tax branch of MHM were merged into Century Business Services, inc. (now known as CBIZ) in 1998. 
  • Currently, CBIZ MHM, LLC, which is part of CBIZ, Inc. Company, dealing with tax and consulting practices.
  • Even though MHM is owned and operated by its CPA shareholders, it maintains an association with CBIZ as an alternative practice structure as defined in AICPA (American Institute Of Certified Public Accountants) Ethics Interpretation 101-14.
  • With more than 30 offices in the United States, and 127 employees working under the firm, MHM also provides it services to industries like Financial institution, Software, high-tech, and life sciences, manufacturing, retail, and distribution, etc.
  • The revenue of the company is $25 million. MHM, headquarter is in Kansas City, Missouri, the United States, and the president is Andy Burczyk.


BDO stands for Binder Dijker Otte. The firm has grabbed 8th rank among the biggest accounting firms in the United States.

  • BDO USA LLP is a member of BDO, a global network firm of the United States.
  • At first, the firm was created as Seidman and Seidman in the year 1910 in Manhattan by three immigrant brothers named Maximilian L. Seidman, Franc E. Seidman, and Jacob S. Seidman. By the beginning of 1960, the firm had expanded its services across the country. Alliance was created by joining international firms from Canada and Europe.
  • In the year, 1973 the initials of the three founding European firms named Binder (from the United Kingdom), Dijker (from the Netherlands), and Otte (Germany)  joined together, and the firm was re-titled as “BDO”
  • BDO USA LLP operates in the department of Accounting, Professional Services, Tax, and Consulting.  
  • At present BDO firm has 60 offices in 162 countries with more than 7,330 employees. The revenue of the firm is $1.8 billion.
  • With headquarters located in One Prudential Plaza Chicago, Illinois, the current CEO is Wayne Berson.
  • The main clients of BDO are Apple, Facebook, Lone Star, Tyson Krupp  Diners Club, etc.

Frequently asked questions 

  1. Which is the top accounting firm?

 Deloitte is the top accounting firm, situated in New York, with and net revenue of $23,157,000,0.

  1. How to start an accounting firm?

It is one of the most asked questions regarding accounting firms. Many desire to establish their accounting firm.

Below mentioned are few websites offering detailed insight regarding the start of an accounting firm in addition to tips on how to be successful:

  1. Accounting Today
  2. CPA practice advisor  
  3. American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)
  4. SCORE
  1. How much does it cost to start an accounting firm?

One’s location, in addition to factors like, whether your firm is to be a traditional brick and mortar firm or a virtual office environment, determines the cost scale. The typical average start-up range is between $2,500-$25,000.

  1. What are few mistakes to avoid while starting an accounting business?

Five things to steer clear of while starting an accounting business are-

  1. Rushing into choosing a business entity type.
  2. Underestimating funds are needed to get through slow times.
  3. Having a build-it-and-they-will-come mindset.
  4. Ignoring the opportunities to leverage synergies with other businesses.
  5. Submitting the compliance paperwork late or with error.
  1. Is a CPA the same as an Accountant?

In simple words, both are different. Certified Public Accountant (CPA )is earned after the completion of specific educational and work requirements along with passing an exam. Whereas, an accountant is a person having a bachelor’s degree in accounting. 

A CPA is recognized by the government as someone who is better qualified to perform accounting duties.

Big 8 Accounting Firms- All About Accounting Firms

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