RSM reclaims sixth spot in accounting league with $5.7 billion revenues

28 January 2020 4 min. read
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Accounting and consulting firm RSM has booked 2019 revenues of $5.74 billion to narrowly reclaim its position as the 6th largest network of its kind. 

Global accounting and consulting firm RSM has returned to being the world’s sixth largest such network after generating $5.74 billion in combined revenues for its 2019 financial year – narrowly eclipsing the $5.72 billion in revenues posted by close mid-tier competitor Grant Thornton. Slipping behind last year, RSM achieved the results on the back of accelerated growth of 8.8 percent (at constant exchange rates), and despite its recent troubles in the UK.

“2019 has been an exciting point of inflection for us at RSM as we re-imagined the next generation of our business, launching multi-year programmes designed to ignite growth across all facets of our business, initiating new ways of working and enhancing our people and client experience to meet their changing needs in an increasingly globalised digital world,” said RSM’s Global CEO Jean Stephens, who has now been in charge for almost a decade and a half.

With the Big Four locked in as their name would suggest (led by Deloitte, which with over $46 billion in annual revenues is operating in an entirely different realm), and the fifth-placed BDO opening a widening gap at the top of the mid-tier table, the running battle between 6th and 7th place provides some quiet fascination – especially as these networks have a tendency toward including such rankings on their marketing material. See any number of member home-pages.

RSM reclaims sixth spot in accounting league with $5.74 billion revenues

Grant Thornton can still however claim to be the sixth largest network by virtue of its headcount and real estate, which at over 56,000 in 140 countries is a fair cry ahead of RSM’s 43,000 spread across 120-plus. Still, what those people are doing and where adds to the fascination. The year before last, RSM grew its consulting revenues by 14.5 percent and its tax line by 6 percent, while for 2019 its tax division grew by 11.7 percent and its consulting slowed to 7 percent growth.

For Grant Thornton, the opposite applied; its tax practice booming to the tune of 14.8 percent growth in 2018 (up from a 2.1 percent gain the year prior), but slowing to 5.9 percent last year. Advisory did slow slightly from 10.4 percent, but remained healthy at 8.6 percent growth to $2.09 billion, the practice now only marginally behind the $2.28 billion brought in by assurance, which in comparison grew by 4.7 percent. RSM meanwhile grew its audit line by 6.3 percent last year.

As another divergence, the Asia Pacific has in recent years proved the hottest growth market for the majority of firms (Grant Thornton for example has experienced regional growth of 18.7 percent and 10.7 percent over the past two financial years) while the well-established North American market remains relatively steady – yet RSM last year boosted its growth in North America from 6 percent to a massive 14.8 percent, with only a 6 percent gain across APAC.

All up, RSM reports that over three quarters of its member firms worldwide achieved growth last year, with almost half recording double-digit figures – a feat equating to a 6.9 percent overall rise in revenues at average exchange rates. Courtesy of a local market merger between Chinese firms Huapu Tianjian and GT Ascenda (the former which was only added to the network barely the six months prior), RSM cited the country as one of its largest growth markets, up by 40 percent.

As is basically now a given, RSM also touted its recent technological investments, but Stephens had one note to add; “While digital transformation and innovation are high on our agenda, we are ultimately a people business. It is now more important than ever to invest in our team and emphasise human engagement and emotional intelligence in a technology empowered world, as we ensure we continue to deliver on our brand promise, The Power of Being Understood.”