The Big Four: The curious past and perilous future of the global accounting monopoly by Ian D. Gow and Stuart Kells

Reviewed by
June-July 2018, no. 402
Rémy Davison reviews 'The Big Four: The curious past and perilous future of the global accounting monopoly' by Ian D. Gow and Stuart Kells

The Big Four: The curious past and perilous future of the global accounting monopoly

by Ian D. Gow and Stuart Kells

La Trobe University Press/Black Inc., $32.99 pb, 260pp, 9781863959964

The Big Four: The curious past and perilous future of the global accounting monopoly by Ian D. Gow and Stuart Kells

Reviewed by
June-July 2018, no. 402

What’s an accountant’s favourite book? 50 Shades of Grey. But in a world of transfer pricing and Special Purpose Entities, suddenly accounting isn’t funny anymore. A 1976 Congressional report noted that the Big Eight accounting firms controlled ‘virtually all aspects of accounting and auditing in the US’. Multinationals, presidents, prime ministers, and pro tennis players hide their vast wealth in offshore tax havens like Panama and the Bahamas. The message is clear: to keep your dosh from the tax collector’s greedy grasp, you’ll likely need a Big Four accountant.

Who are the Big Four? Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and KPMG are the great survivors of the buccaneering nineteenth-century Gilded Age of silver, wine, art, and gold. Ian D. Gow and Stuart Kells’s book traces the lineage of the original ‘Big Eight’, which became the ‘Big Five’ until Arthur Andersen’s sudden demise in 2002 in the aftermath of the Enron scandal. In 2018 the Big Four employed one million people globally, with 25,000 in Australia alone.

Rémy Davison reviews 'The Big Four: The curious past and perilous future of the global accounting monopoly' by Ian D. Gow and Stuart Kells

The Big Four: The curious past and perilous future of the global accounting monopoly

by Ian D. Gow and Stuart Kells

La Trobe University Press/Black Inc., $32.99 pb, 260pp, 9781863959964

You May Also Like

From the New Issue

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.