Auditors and International Financial Reporting

Authored by: Kathryn Cearns

The Routledge Companion to Accounting, Reporting and Regulation

Print publication date:  September  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415625739
eBook ISBN: 9780203103203
Adobe ISBN: 9781136243509


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The early to mid-nineteenth century saw the genesis of all the major accounting firms we know of today, including the ‘Big 4’ – Deloitte Touche Tomatsu (Deloitte), Ernst & Young (E&Y), KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – and many of the other international network firms. The histories of these firms are intertwined with the nascent development of the accounting profession in the UK (the ICAEW was established from its founding societies in 1880, for example), the USA and Canada and elsewhere, and their births and subsequent developments are startlingly similar in terms of where they started life, the type of men who founded them, what entrenched their establishment amongst a raft of similar small firms of accountants and their accelerated growth through acquisitions and mergers, particularly from the late 1960s. Before then (since 1856), UK law limited the number of partners in any general partnership to 20. Once this limitation was repealed in the Companies Act of 1967, the firms grew exponentially. In fact the extent to which the large firms grew through mergers and acquisitions was so great that it is almost impossible to fit the family tree of the antecedents of any one of the firms on one piece of paper. 1

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