With revenue of approximately $36 billion in 2019, Ernst & Young Global Limited (also known as simply EY) is a business that would certainly attract many investors all over the world if its stock were publicly available. Unfortunately, it is not and likely will not be in the foreseeable future.

Key Takeaways

  • Ernst & Young is made up of four regional companies, each with its own structure.
  • Collectively, Ernst & Young combines to form Ernst & Young Global Limited.
  • The company’s complex structuring combined with varying global accounting regulations are the main factors for the firm’s choice to stay private.

Ernst & Young at a Glance

The firm traces its roots all the way back to 1848, from separate small accounting firms founded by Arthur Young and Alwin C. Ernst. The two founders never met, and their firms merged in 1989, long after they had passed away.

Today, Ernst & Young is one of the members of the Big Four accounting firms, along with Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and KPMG. Combined, the Big Four can be tied to auditing, tax planning, and business advisory for almost every large transaction in the world.

Ernst & Young is headquartered in London, England. It has more than 700 offices located in more than 150 countries. Its corporate structure is complex, particularly because it’s a combination of unique independent structurings all over the world. Also, regulations governing the accounting profession vary greatly from country to country. These factors are the main reasons the company stays private.

At the top of the corporate hierarchy, the Global Executives Group is the highest echelon of management and oversight. This Group is led by the Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Carmine Di Sibio. Other Global Executives include:

  • EY Global Managing Partner: Client Service
  • EY Global Managing Partner: Business Enablement
  • EY Global Vice Chair: Talent
  • EY Global Vice Chair: Markets
  • EY Global Vice Chair: Assurance
  • EY Global Vice Chair: Advisory
  • EY Global Vice Chair: Tax
  • EY Global Vice Chair: Transaction Advisory Services (TAS)
  • EY Americas Area Managing Partner
  • EY Asia-Pacific Area Managing Partner
  • EY EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa) Area Managing Partner
  • Chair of the Global Accounts Committee
  • Chair of the Emerging Markets Committee
  • Emerging Market Committee Member
  • Member firm partner on rotation

Business Structuring of Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is not publicly listed. If it was, it would likely be listed first on a British exchange because of its London headquarters.

Collectively, the company is comprised of several independent business structures across the world. Business ownership structures differ depending on the location. Below is a quick breakdown:

  • Ernst & Young Global Limited (the combination of all parts)
  • Ernst & Young Americas LLC
  • Ernst & Young EMEIA Limited
  • Ernst & Young Asia-Pacific Limited
  • Ernst & Young Japan

Business offices operating in North, Central, and South America fall under the Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) structure. An LLC is unique because it renounces the liability of company debts for its members or partners. Meanwhile, it allows business partners to hold equity. Owners in the Americas are called partners, but not all partners are equal. How much equity a given partner receives is information that the firm manages and keeps very private.

Indeed, virtually all private accounting, legal, and professional firms keep partner income secret. Qualifications for partner, or a localized equivalent, are determined by the firm and maintained in company bylaws. Typically, the promotion to partner comes with a catch. As owners, partners are expected to invest a certain amount of capital in the firm. Here again, actual amounts are shrouded in secrecy.

In July 2019, the company announced 733 new partner promotions globally. Of the 733, 264 were partner promotions in the Americas.

Core Services

Ernst & Young provides services to its clients in all of the fields traditionally associated with a large accounting practice. Internally, it is divided into four service lines: assurance, advisory, transaction advisory services, and tax.

Assurance is the group responsible for the auditing of financial statements. The advisory group is dedicated to solving complex issues in the industries in which its clients operate. The transaction advisory services group works with clients during large and complex transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions. The tax group assists clients with fiscal strategy, tax compliance, and tax planning.

In 2019, the firm had 245,636 employees globally. Employees were broken out by the following:

  • EMEIA 114,266
  • Americas 75,117
  • Asia-Pacific 48,108
  • Japan 8,145

Ernst & Young is generally recognized as a quality employer. It has been named a great place to work in Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, and Panama. Universum’s U.S. Talent Survey has named EY the number one accounting firm among college students for nine years. In the Americas, Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For has included EY for19 years. The firm also hosts its own awards, including the annual Entrepreneur of the Year U.S. award.