Reforming the Big Four

The audit industry needs fixing. But dismantling the Big Four is not the way to do it.

When a company goes bankrupt, recriminations tend to follow. Even so, the fury caused by the recent collapse of Carillion, a British contracting firm, is unusual. A report on the debacle by British MPs, which was released this month, savaged everyone from the firm’s executives to its regulators. But the MPs reserved special bile for the Big Four accounting firms—not just KPMG, which audited Carillion’s accounts for 19 years, but also its peers, Deloitte, EY and PwC, each of which extracted fees from the company, before and after its fall. The MPs have called for a review into the audit market and asked it to say whether the Big Four’s British arms should be broken up. The row is local, but concerns about the industry are global.

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