Grant Thornton's resilience sees it grow global revenues to $5.7 billion

18 December 2020 4 min. read
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Grant Thornton International has announced global revenues of over $5.7 billion for its latest financial year. This represents an increase of nearly 1% on 2019’s revenues, despite a difficult year for the consulting industry.

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, it appeared that the consulting industry was set to take a sizeable hit from the unfolding crisis. Initially several forecasts tipped the world’s consulting market to be worth 20% less at end of 2020 than the start due to the massive financial strain the outbreak placed on clients, as well as the resulting recession which accompanied it. However, the outlook in many countries seemed to improve throughout the year, as researchers progressed with the discovery of a vaccine.

With the posting of its international results for 2020, Grant Thornton has become the latest firm to show just how rapidly the outlook for consulting firms has changed during the Covid-19 crisis. Earlier in the year, the firm’s UK wing had anticipated a 20% fall in revenues amid the pandemic – however, figures published at the end of September reveal that the global organisation at least did not see anything like as bad.

Growth: revenue and people

According to Grant Thornton International, the firm enjoyed global revenues of $5.76 billion for the latest financial year, an increase of 0.6% on 2019’s $5.72 billion – though in constant currency terms, this improves to growth of 1.6%. At the same time, despite the global consulting industry shedding staff at certain moments of uncertainty, Grant Thornton added 2,229 new employees to its 2019 headcount, which now sits at 58,229. This will have been helped by two new firms joining the network in Chile and Turks and Caicos.

Speaking on the results, Peter Bodin, CEO Grant Thornton International, said, “From the professional to the personal, Covid-19 has affected every aspect of our lives in 2020. Since a global pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation in March this year, Grant Thornton member firms have focused on supporting their people, their clients, and their businesses. I am incredibly proud of the determination, agility and resilience demonstrated by Grant Thornton member firms around the world as they responded to unprecedented challenges while increasing their support, connectivity and collaboration with their clients and one another.”

Grant Thornton - Global network

Grant Thornton’s international success was driven by long-term investment in strategic growth markets, something which continued to deliver double-digit growth in key hubs in Brazil (33.4%), India (14.8%), Malaysia (11.8%), and Singapore (19.9%). Meanwhile, the network’s larger European firms performed strongly too – led by Greece’s 14.6% growth and Germany’s 11.9% expansion. The Netherlands (9.6%), Denmark (9.4%) and Ireland (8.2%) also enjoyed rapid growth.

Perhaps the strongest regional market for growth came from Central European firms, with the Czech Republic’s 67.3% growth standing out, alongside Slovakia’s 29.8%, and Poland’s 17.3%. In North America, meanwhile, the US’ continued mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic might have suppressed growth more than in many markets, but Grant Thornton’s neighbouring Canada network member still managed to record 5.8% growth. Overall, thanks to their prior status as the leading market for consulting, the Americas remain the largest region by revenue, accounting for 45.5% of Grant Thornton’s revenue; followed by EMEA at 36.6% and Asia Pacific contributing 17.9%.

Grant Thornton - Service line performance

In terms of service lines, assurance work made up approximately 40.4% of Grant Thornton’s total revenue at $2.32 billion, growing by around 3.2%. At the same time, while consulting traditionally relies on face-to-face work, advisory services still managed to enjoy 0.6% growth to contribute 36% of revenues in 2020, while tax contributed 21.8%. Stable growth was reported across all service lines led by the trio – in spite of a sudden shift to remote work for clients.

Thanks to the network’s investment in technology over recent years, member firms were able to switch to virtual working, as lockdowns were imposed by governments around the world. Looking ahead to the continued uncertainty of 2021, this could help Grant Thornton to build on its impressive results this year – with or without a return to ‘normal.’

Looking ahead, Bodin concluded, “While the outlook remains uncertain, the prospect of a vaccine next year, along with solid growth this year, puts us in a great position to continue investing in our multidisciplinary model and leverage opportunities post-Covid.”