Brown told sister title Management Consultancy that accounting and auditing firms would ‘inevitably’ and controversially re-enter the consulting arena. Atos, formerly Atos KPMG, offloaded the Big Four’s brand at the beginning of September. This followed the acquisition of KPMG Consulting in 2002.
‘Major accounting and auditing firms will all eventually head back into the consulting market. They are already heading that way now. This is an inevitable consequence of the professional services industry.’ But Brown said that when the Big Four re-enter the consulting fray they would do so in a much more discreet capacity.
‘They have the potential to go into consulting in terms of tax or government advisory ð but on a smaller scale, as they simply don’t have the IT support that more established consulting firms can offer clients.’
In August, John Connolly, chief executive of Deloitte, the only firm to resist selling its consulting arm, caused uproar in the industry when he accused the other three big firms of a ‘lack of transparency’ over their consulting activities. Speaking to Accountancy Age he singled out PricewaterhouseCoopers as having an opaque consulting practice equal in size to his own firm’s.
‘You can’t see it clearly within the numbers that they publish, but it would not surprise me if it was a similar size to the one that we’ve got, or not far short of it,’ he said.
Brown added that the issue of transparency would be clearer now Atos has decided to go it alone.
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