The Big Four by Stuart Kells, Ian Gow | Black Inc.

The Big Four: The Curious Past and Perilous Future of the Global Accounting Monopoly

Awards for The Big Four

  • Winner, 2018 Ashurst Business Literature Prize
  • Shortlisted, 2019 NSW Premier's History Awards, General History Prize

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About the author

Stuart Kells

Stuart Kells is a Melbourne-based author. His history of Penguin Books, Penguin and the Lane Brothers, won the Ashurst Australian Business Literature Prize.

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Ian Gow

Ian D. Gow is currently at Harvard Business School and will soon take up a professorship at the University of Melbourne. Before Harvard, he held positions at Morgan Stanley, General Motors, Stern Stewart & Co. and Andersen Consulting. He has a …

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Praise for The Big Four

‘An invaluable contribution ... acknowledges the firms’ immense power and the seriousness of their neglect of traditional responsibilities. The Big Four will appeal to all those interested in the future of the profession—and of capitalism itself.’––Jane Gleeson-White, The Wall Street Journal

‘Who would have ever thought that one would find a deep understanding of the issues facing today’s Big Four in the rise and fall of the Medici bank? Gow and Kells provide a riveting  analysis of the historical antecedents to today’s Big Four structures and strategies and leave us totally unsettled in considering the industry’s future. A unique approach of historical comparisons results in a must-read volume of an essential industry that is poorly understood. I could not put it down! —Leonard A. Schlesinger, Harvard Business School


‘Major international accounting firms play a fundamental role in the governance of the world’s largest public companies. The quality of financial statements is crucial for evaluating executives and valuing firms. The Big Four delves into the origin of these firms and the role they play in businesses around the globe. Like many organizations, the future for accounting firms is uncertain. How will this profession adapt to its new environment? The Big Four tells the reader what to expect. This is a must read for executives and directors alike.’ —Professor David Larcker, James Irvin Miller Professor of Accounting, Stanford University Graduate School of Business; Professor of Law (by courtesy), Stanford Law School; Senior Faculty of the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford; Co-Director, Directors’ Consortium; Director, Corporate Governance Research Initiative

‘A fascinating book … I highly recommend it.’ —Ticky Fulleron, SKY Business

‘Great fun. I enjoyed it.’ —Phillip Adams, Late Night Live, ABC Radio National

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