Clear all


Posts: 9
Active Member
Joined: 1 year ago


For those in the accounting line, the word ”THE BIG FOUR” will not be a news at all, infact it will be a word you have come to know and admire even before you gain admission into the university to study accounting, just like those preparing to study engineering or sciences will always dream and talk about shell.

But what calls to mind when you mention “big” especially to a prospective worker is salary, bonuses, entitlements or even the mere prestige of working in should an organization. But is this the true meaning of the word “The big four” as used in this phrase?

Well, you will be correct if that is what you are thinking but that will be partially though but wait a minute, what is more, important to an employee than his pay or benefits? But this won’t define the employer.

So what is the real meaning of the big four or why are they called the big four?


The big four are all accounting firms that operate in Nigeria but not only in Nigeria which is one of the reasons why they are labeled as the big four. They have a global presence and operates anywhere between 120-160 countries in the world. This is as good as saying they are found virtually in all countries of the world. The services they offer include audit, assurance services, taxation, management consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance and legal services.

These services are provided to public companies, private companies, and even government parastatals as well, showing the large coverage they have achieved thereby meriting them the tag “the big four”

The big four are listed below according to their revenue generated in 2018:

  • Deloitte
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
  • Ernst & Young (EY)
  • KPMG

Meaning Deloitte generated the highest revenue in 2018 while KPMG generated the lowest in 2018.

But let me educate you further, what we now know as the big four didn’t start as the big four, it started as the big eight which are:

  • Arthur Andersen (until its closure in 2002 for a conviction related to the Enron scandal which was later overturned by the US Supreme Court)
  • Arthur Young (Arthur Young, McLelland, Moores & Co from 1968 to 1985)
  • Coopers and Lybrand (until 1973 Cooper Brothers in the UK and Lybrand, Ross Bros., & Montgomery in the United States)[8]
  • Deloitte Haskins & Sells (until 1978 Haskins & Sells in the United States and Deloitte & Co. in the UK)
  • Ernst & Whinney (until 1979 Ernst & Ernst in the United States and Whinney Murray in the UK)
  • Peat Marwick Mitchell (later Peat Marwick, then KPMG)
  • Price Waterhouse
  • Touche Ross

Then it winds down to the big six which are:

  • Arthur Young
  • Coopers and Lybrand
  • Deloitte & Touche
  • Ernst & Whinney
  • Price Waterhouse
  • KPMG

Then went down to big five which are:

  • Ernst & Young (EY)
  • Deloitte & Touche
  • Arthur Andersen
  • KPMG
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

Then finally the big four that we now know today, the decrease in their numbers is due to mergers.

So here we have the present big four doing their job like they should be doing.

But before I draw the curtain here, the big four are the ones advising the government on tax reforms, so that the government can generate more funds to sponsor its activities and at the same time, they are the ones advising the companies on how to minimize their tax burden. This I leave for the audience to judge.