The Big 4 Consulting revenue now exceeds audit work – we need to consider the “Big 6” in consulting

 In advertising, agency model, disruption

I read an interesting report in the WSJ that says the “Big 4” audit firms (Deloitte, PWC, EY and KPMG) now generate more revenue from consulting than from their traditional audit services.

The report explains that since 2012, the firms’ combined global revenue from consulting rose 44% compared to just 3% from auditing. This equates to $56Bn of consulting revenue in 2017, vs $47Bn from auditing.

Each of the Big 4 have started to aggressively focus on digital consulting. Deloitte Digital and EY’s digital practices are examples of how these audit firms have transformed and disrupted themselves.

The report did not allude to the two non-audit, consulting firms that compete heavily with the Big 4. 

Accenture and IBM’s consulting division actively compete with the big 4 for advisory and digital consulting work.  Indeed Accenture and IBM’s “iX” – their “digital” agency frequently vie for the top 1 and 2 positions on the largest digital agency leaderboards.

The 2016 acquisition of creative agency Karmarama by Accenture turned heads across the consulting space, as well as the traditional advertising agency landscape.

It’s no secret that traditional ad agencies such as Ogilvy feel threatened by the likes of Accenture and Deloitte Digital as they move closer to the creative agency model. In turn, Ogilvy wants to be able to play in the consulting space and have dipped their toe into the water with Ogilvy Red. Red’s tagline is “A strategy & innovation consulting group integrated with the world’s greatest creative agency”.

In the consulting landscape, we really need to look at the “Big 6” to include Accenture and IBM.

It will be interesting to watch how the traditional Audit providers transform their business with a greater mix of consulting and creative campaign delivery.

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Based in London, Practical Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and commentator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.