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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd DLTE.UL, the world's largest accounting and consulting firm, said global revenue rose the most in three years in fiscal year 2011, helped by double-digit gains in advisory and consulting work.
Deloitte's member firms worldwide reported a record $28.8 billion in revenue, up 8.4 percent from 2010. In local currency terms, not accounting for fluctuations in the value of the dollar, revenue grew 7.7 percent for the fiscal year that ended May 31, 2011.
Deloitte will likely post similar growth in fiscal 2012, despite a challenging economic picture, the firm's global chief executive, Barry Salzberg, said on Thursday.
"Our first quarter (fiscal 2012) results are very much in line with what we've achieved in the prior year," Salzberg said in an interview.
Deloitte also said it plans to boost its workforce 37 percent to 250,000 by fiscal year 2015, up from 182,000 now.
The Asia-Pacific region was the fastest-growing area for a seventh straight year, with revenue growth of more than 25 percent at member firms in Australia and India, Deloitte said.
Deloitte's growth came in a year when the global services sector posted an uneven rebound from a 2008-2009 slump. Deloitte's results may bode well for the other "Big Four" global accounting and consulting firms -- Ernst & Young ERNY.UL, KPMG KPMG.UL and PwC PWC.UL -- expected to report revenues in the coming months.
Financial advisory work led Deloitte's revenue growth, with a 15.1 percent rise, followed by a 14.9 percent jump in consulting revenue. Revenue from tax services grew 5.2 percent, while audit and enterprise risk services rose 4.7 percent.
A jump in consulting revenues had helped Deloitte edge past PwC in total revenues in 2010 to claim the top spot among the Big Four firms by a margin of just $9 million. Both Deloitte and PwC have been bulking up with acquisitions and new hires over the past year, making bullish bets on growth despite an uncertain economy.
Salzberg said that focusing on quality is more important than keeping its lead among the Big Four.
"Given the growth rate that we enjoyed this year and the economic environment that we operated in, we're very pleased with our performance," he said. "My objective would be to continue to lead Deloitte to be the best, and size is not as important."
EMERGING MARKET M&A A BOON
A pick-up in merger-and-acquisition activity in emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil helped growth in the financial advisory area, Deloitte said. Restructuring and forensic-related services, such as expert testimony and other litigation support, also boosted advisory revenues.
In the consulting area, growth was strong in strategy and operations, data analytics, sustainability, and human capital, or workforce consulting, Salzberg said.
Next to the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas reported the strongest revenue growth overall at 10.4 percent, led by more than 20 percent growth in Brazil and Chile. North American revenue grew 9.9 percent.
Revenue in Europe, the Middle East and Africa rose 3.2 percent.
Finding skilled professionals was one of the big challenges in growing the advisory and consulting businesses, Salzberg said.
Deloitte hired about 49,000 people in fiscal 2011, though with about 37,000 lost through retirements and other turnover, its net gain was 12,000 or 7.1 percent.
The firm is meeting its target of staffing up to 250,000 by 2015, Salzberg said.
"Our biggest market for hiring people is the United States," with about 18,000 signed up last year and an equal number of hires expected this year, Salzberg said.
Deloitte also said it is halfway through a four-year $1 billion investment program, which includes $300 million for improving audits worldwide and $500 million for building up talent and technology in high-priority markets such as Brazil, India, Russia, China and Japan.
Reporting by Dena Aubin; editing by Andre Grenon, Phil Berlowitz and Carol Bishopric