EY operates as a network of member firms which are separate legal entities in individual countries. It has 250,000 employees in over 700 offices around 150 countries in the world. It provides assurance (including financial audit), tax, consulting and advisory services to companies.
The firm dates back to 1849 with the founding of Harding & Pullein in England. The current firm was formed by a merger of Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young & Co. in 1989. It was known as Ernst & Young until 2013 when it underwent a rebranding to EY. The acronym "EY" was already an informal name for the firm prior to its official adoption.
EY is the result of a series of mergers of ancestor organizations. The oldest originating partnership was founded in 1849 in England as Harding & Pullein. In that year the firm was joined by Frederick Whinney. He was made a partner in 1859 and with his sons in the business, it was renamed Whinney Smith & Whinney in 1894.
In 1903, the firm of Ernst & Ernst was established in Cleveland by Alwin C. Ernst and his brother Theodore and in 1906, Arthur Young & Co. was set up by the Scotsman Arthur Young in Chicago.
As early as 1924, these American firms allied with prominent British firms, Young with Broads Paterson & Co. and Ernst with Whinney Smith & Whinney. In 1979, this led to the formation of Anglo-American Ernst & Whinney, creating the fourth largest accountancy firm in the world. Also in 1979, the European offices of Arthur Young merged with several large local European firms, which became member firms of Arthur Young International.
In 1989, the number four firm Ernst & Whinney merged with the then number five, Arthur Young, on a global basis to create Ernst & Young.
In October 1997, EY announced plans to merge its global practices with KPMG to create the largest professional services organization in the world, coming on the heels of another merger plan announced in September 1997 by Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand. These plans were abandoned in February 1998 due to client opposition, antitrust issues, cost problems and difficulty of merging the two diverse firms and cultures.
EY had built up its consulting arm heavily during the 1980s and 1990s. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and members of the investment community began to raise concerns about potential conflicts of interest between the consulting and auditing work amongst the Big Five and in May 2000, EY was the first of the firms to formally and fully separate its consulting practices via a sale to the French IT services company Capgemini for $11 billion, largely in stock, creating the new company of Capgemini Ernst & Young, which was later renamed Capgemini.
In 2002, EY took over many of the ex-Arthur Andersen practices around the world, although not those in the United Kingdom, China, or the Netherlands.
In 2006, EY became the only member of the Big Four to have two member firms in the United States, with the inclusion of Mitchell & Titus, LLP, the largest minority-owned accounting firm in the United States.
In April 2009, Reuters reported that EY launched an initiative encouraging its staff in China to take 40 days of low-pay leave between July 2009 and June 2010 due to the economic turndown. Those who participated got 20% of regular salary plus benefits of a full-time employee. The initiative applied to employees in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, where the firm's employees are 8,500 in total.
In 2013, EY agreed to pay federal prosecutors $123 million to settle criminal tax avoidance charges stemming from $2 billion in unpaid taxes from about 200 wealthy individuals advised by four Ernst & Young senior partners between 1999 and 2004.
In 2013, EY changed its brand name from Ernst & Young to EY and tagline to "Building a better working world".
In 2013, the Pope of the Roman Catholic church hired EY to help review Vatican City State's finances and help “verify and consult” the institution’s administration, including the museums, post office and tax-free department store. EY expanded further and acquired all of KPMG Denmark's operations including its 150 partners, 1500 employees and 21 offices.
In 2015, EY opened its first ever global Security Operations Centre at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in India and will invest $20 million over 5 years to combat increasing threat of cybercrimes.
In 2016 EY audited 947 public companies which are registered with the US SEC, more than any other auditing firm.
In 2017 EY announced it was opening an executive support center in Tucson, Arizona, creating over 125 new jobs. In 2017 the company began looking for a location for a new, $4.35 million professional services center in Louisville, Kentucky, creating 125 new jobs, due to open in mid-2018.
Each area has an identical business structure and a management team, which is led by an Area Managing Partner who is part of the Global Executive board.
Operations in India
In India, since ICAI regulations do not permit foreign firms to carry out company audits, Ernst and Young carries them out through SR Batliboi & Co, an accountancy firm headquartered in Mumbai. They carry out audits for large companies such as Vedanta Limited and V-Guard under partnerships called S.R.Batliboi & Co LLP and S.R.Batliboi & Co Associates.
Assurance (38% of revenue in 2016): comprises Financial Audit (core assurance), Financial Accounting Advisory Services and Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services.
Tax (26% of revenue in 2016): includes Transfer Pricing, International Tax Services, Business Tax Compliance, People Advisory, Global Trade, Indirect Tax, Tax Accounting & Risk Advisory Services, Tax Technology and Transformation, Transaction Tax.
Advisory (26% of revenue in 2016): consisting of four subservice lines: Actuarial, IT Risk and Assurance, Risk, and Performance Improvement.
Transaction Advisory Services (TAS) (9% of revenue in 2016): deals with companies' capital agenda – preserving, optimizing, investing and raising capital.
Awards and recognition
The firm was also placed among the top 50 places in the "Where Women Want to Work" awards for 2007.
The firm was ranked No. 1 in BusinessWeek's annual list of "Best Places To Launch a Career" for 2008.
The firm was ranked No. 44 in the Fortune list of "100 Best Companies to Work For", and the highest among the "Big Four", for 2009.
The firm was No. 34 in ComputerWorld's "100 Best Places To Work For In IT" for 2009.
EY was ranked 4th in Universum's America's "Ideal Employers" list 2011 and 3rd in its Global Top Employers list.
EY was ranked No. 1 in Forbes magazine's "The Best Accounting Firms to Work For" in 2012, which claimed that EY treats its employees better than other large firms do. It was ranked 57 overall.
The firm was named as one of the "10 Best Companies for Working Mothers" by Working Mothers magazine in 2012 for the 7th straight year.
In early 2012, it was reported that EY had 10,000 staff in mainland China and Hong Kong, which has quadrupled in a decade. It has about 11,200 staff in the UK.
In 2012, the firm was ranked number 1 in the "Stonewall Top 100 Workplace Equality Index", a list of Britain's top 100 gay-friendly employers. In 2013, the firm was ranked number 6 in the same Workplace Equality Index.
In 2013, EY earned 100% rating on the "Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index".
In 2013, EY was named one of DiversityInc magazine's Top 50 companies for diversity.
In 2013, EY was ranked 4th in "Universum Top 100 IDEAL™ Employer", a survey that reveals perception of future employers among business students in the U.S. by an employer branding firm.
In 2014, EY was ranked 2nd in Universum World's Most Attractive Employers, a survey that reveals perception of future employers among business students by an employer branding firm.
In 2015 Forbes ranked the company #230 of America's Best Employers, and #216 of Canada's Best Employers.
In 2016, EY was ranked 3rd in Universum World's Most Attractive Employers, and ranked 1st in area of professional services employers, in a survey that reveals perception of future employers among business students by an employer branding firm.
Forbes list EY as one of the Best Management Consulting Firms for 2017.
The rebranded EY logo was unveiled in July 2013 to coincide with the firm changing its trading name from Ernst & Young to EY.
SEC barred the firm from accepting new clients for six months
In 2004, Ernst & Young was punished for forming highly profitable business with one of its audit clients, PeopleSoft. As a result, the firm was barred by the SEC from accepting any new publicly traded companies as audit clients for six months.
Equitable Life (2004)
In April 2004, Equitable Life, a UK life assurance company, sued EY after nearly collapsing but abandoned the case in September 2005. EY described the case as "a scandalous waste of time, money and resources for all concerned."
In 2009, in the Anglo Irish Bank hidden loans controversy, EY was criticised by politicians and the shareholders of Anglo Irish Bank for failing to detect large loans to Sean FitzPatrick, its chairman, during its audits. The Irish Government had to subsequently take full ownership of the Bank at a cost of €28 billion. The Irish Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board appointed John Purcell to investigate. EY said it "fundamentally disagrees with the decision to initiate a formal disciplinary process" and that "there has been no adverse finding made against EY in respect of the audit of Anglo Irish Bank."
Sons of Gwalia (2009)
In 2009, EY, the former auditors of Sons of Gwalia, agreed to a $125m settlement over their role in the gold miner’s collapse in 2004. Ferrier Hodgson, the company's administrator, had claimed EY was negligent over the accounting of gold and dollar hedging contracts. However, EY said that the proposed settlement was not an admission of any liability.
Akai Holdings (2009) and Moulin Global Eyecare (2010)
In 2009, EY agreed to pay US$200m out of court to settle a negligence claim by the liquidators of Akai Holdings. Separately the firm was alleged of falsifying and doctoring documents it presented to defend against the negligence claim by Akai's liquidators. In a separate lawsuit, a former EY senior partner from 1984 to 1991, Cristopher Ho, and his listed company, Grande Holdings, paid over US$100m to Akai creditors to settle Akai's liquidators' claim that Ho conspired with Ting of stripping assets from Akai. Police raided the Hong Kong office and arrested an EY partner who had been an audit manager on the Akai account from December 1997, although audit documents had been doctored dating back to 1994. Akai was said to be the firm's largest client for most of the 1990s from Hong Kong.
The EY partner for the Akai account between 1991 and 1999, David Sun Tak-kei, faced no charges and went on to become co-managing partner for EY China. A few months later EY settled a similar claim of up to HK$300m from the liquidators of Moulin Global Eyecare, an audit client of the Hong Kong affiliate between 2002 and 2004. The liquidators described the Moulin accounts as a "morass of dodginess".
Lehman Brothers (2010)
The Valukas Report issued in 2010 charged that Lehman Brothers engaged in a practice known as repo 105 and that EY, Lehman's auditor, was aware of it. EY was alleged of professional malpractice regarding the lack of disclosure of Lehman's repo 105 practice in Lehman's public filings. New York prosecutors announced in 2010 that they have sued the firm. David Goldfarb, a Lehman CFO who concocted the repo 105 balance sheet window dressing technique was a former senior partner of EY. EY said that its last audit of Lehman Brothers was for the fiscal year ending 30 November 2007 and that Lehman’s financial statements were fairly presented in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. In March 2015, EY settled Lehman-related lawsuits with municipalities in New Jersey and California.
Standard Water (2013)
EY Hong Kong resigned from the audit of Standard Water on when it emerged that although EY Hong Kong had signed off the audit, it had been effectively outsourced to the affiliate in mainland China, which had received 99.98% of the fee. This was important because shareholders have less confidence in mainland auditors and because audit papers on the mainland are subject to state secrecy laws and can be withheld from outside regulators. EY's quality and risk management leader (Greater China) even testified in the Court of First Instance that he was not sure whether there was a formal agreement covering the relationship between the two EY entities. The court case in 2013 came as US regulators were taking an interest in similar cases of accounting fraud in mainland China.
In October 2016, EY settled with the SEC because they were unable to detect financial statement fraud that was committed by the Weatherford tax department. Weatherford misstated their financial statements by manipulating the income tax line item in their financials. EY was Weatherford's independent auditors when the fraud was perpetrated.
Ernst & Young ShinNihon reprimanded and fined by regulator (2015)
EY's member firm in Japan, Ernst & Young ShinNihon, was fined ¥2.1 billion (US$17.4 million) for failing to spot irregularities during audit of its client Toshiba, which was Japan's worst accounting scandal in years. The firm was also suspended from taking up new business for three months. An official from Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) described that "[t]here was a grave breach of duty". The firm's CEO and chairman, Koichi Hanabusa stepped down the following month to take responsibility and monthly salaries for 19 employees were cut from 20 per cent to 50 per cent. In an unusual move, the FSA publicly named seven accountants involved in the audit who were said of failing to exercise due caution and signing off on false financial documents. The FSA also said the "firm’s operations were deeply improper". ShinNihon, at the time, was Japan's biggest accounting firm, with about 3,500 certified accountants and more than 4,000 clients. Ernst & Young ShinNihon audited about 960 listed companies in Japan, the most among the Big Four, as reported in 2015. Ernst & Young ShinNihon had audited Toshiba for over 60 years and the firm had around 70 staff serving Toshiba before the accounting scandal broke.
WebTrust audits (WoSign, Symantec)
In October 2016, Mozilla stopped accepting WebTrust audits from Ernst & Young Hong Kong due to their failure "to detect multiple issues they should have detected" during their audits of WoSign.
In February 2017, in response to questions regarding misissued certificates, Symantec stated they would no longer accept WebTrust audits from E&Y Korea and E&Y Brazil due to deficiencies in these audits.
Rail Baltica (2017)
Ernst & Young Baltic, member of the EY network, used the emission assumptions of highly polluting EURO II trucks (manufactured before 2001) to falsely increase the socio-economic benefits of the new railway for the period 2026-2055 by 3 billion euros in the Rail Baltica Cost-Benefit Analysis. Total mistakes amount to more than 4 billion euros that constitute 20% of the total socio-economic benefits of the Rail Baltica. Correction of the mistakes makes the project unfeasible. EY has refused to provide any comments to the media regarding the public accusations.
Corporate affairs and culture
EY's publicity activity includes its World Entrepreneur of the Year Award program, held in over 60 countries.
EY in the UK has set up the National Equality Standard (NES), an initiative developed for business which sets clear equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) criteria against which companies are assessed. The National Equality Standard (NES) is currently the only industry recognised national standard for EDI in the UK.
EY in the UK has set up EY Foundation, a new UK charity set up to support young people and entrepreneurs.
On 8 September 2011, Rio 2016 made the announcement that EY would be an official sponsor of the XXXI Olympic Summer Games to be held in Brazil, as the exclusive provider of professional services – consulting and auditing – for Rio 2016 organizing committee.
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