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BW Businessworld

Deloitte, PwC Comb The Globe For New Hires

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Forget struggling economies, aggressive regulators, penny-pinching business clients. The world's two largest accounting and consulting firms are bulking up with acquisitions and combing the globe for new hires.

Head-to-head in a race for the title of world's largest private professional services firm, Deloitte and PwC are on a major expansion drive.

With audit revenues leveling off in developed markets, the firms have been making a push in growing countries such as China and India and plowing ahead with investments in consulting, where business is growing after a recessionary slump.

More is at stake than bragging rights. Just as important is cementing their status as professional service supermarkets, able to help clients in almost any market where commerce transpires.

"The more they position themselves as a truly trusted one-stop solution provider to clients, the more they can hope to be more immune to fee pressures from clients that might increase if the economy worsened," said Ashley Newton, associate director at Kennedy Consulting Research and Advisory.

Last year, a 15 per cent jump in the consulting area helped Deloitte overtake PwC as No. 1 in total revenues among the big four global accounting and consulting firms, which also include KPMG and Ernst & Young.

Deloitte claimed the lead by a margin of just $9 million, reporting $26.578 billion revenues to PwC's $26.569 billion. Prior to 2010, PwC had been the largest for at least five years, according to data from Accounting News Report.

Asia, Middle East Growth Targets
One factor behind the win was Deloitte's decision to hold on to its consulting arm about a decade ago while other audit firms shed theirs amid concerns of conflict of interest.

The decision helped Deloitte keep its grip on the high-potential area of information technology, a business with good growth prospects even in a dodgy economy. Consulting got a further boost from Deloitte acquisitions such as the government business of BearingPoint in 2009.


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