Grant Thornton is one of just six worldwide tax, audit and advisory organizations. Although not a member of the so-called Big Four, the firm has established itself as a fairly big fish. The firm can trace its roots back to 1924, when Alexander Grant, only 26 at the time, left Ernst & Ernst (now Ernst & Young) to start his own public accounting firm, Alexander Grant & Co. As the firm grew it, absorbed 49 other firms, most notably the U.K.-based Thornton Baker, and in the mid-1980s the firm rebranded itself Grant Thornton.
Despite its exclusion from the Big Four, Grant Thornton's structure is very similar, with each member firm acting as its own distinct, legal entity. And, like PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young, the firm features a U.K.-based limited company as its coordinating entity.
Parts of a whole
As would be expected of a firm of its size, Grant Thornton offers a wide range of services across a wide range of industries. It boasts three main practice areas: tax, audit and advisory. Its advisory unit has worked with clients in 18 industries, including both the public and private sectors and not-for-profit organizations. The firm provides solutions for issues complying with new legislation, managing risk, containing costs, streamlining business processes, increasing security of computer networks and identifying strategic transaction opportunities.
The consulting unit also includes a forensics, investigations and litigations branch that researches economic foul play and advises corporations involved with criminal abuse lawsuits. Owing its existence to an unprecedented increase in business-related investigations and litigation, Grant Thornton consultants step in to protect clients' reputations and avoid the costly business interruptions that can accompany high-profile lawsuits. Discretion is a major concern for the branch and its clients; consultants make a point of "uncovering, detecting and deterring fraudulent or abusive activity" in a bid to address trouble areas as quietly as possible.
Grant Thornton frequently shares its research and insights with clients and the general public. The firm periodically releases 30 specialized newsletters, specific to certain industries, such as the automotive or financial industries, while others deal with broader issues concerning federal legislation, general accountancy developments and not-for-profit regulatory matters. Grant Thornton also releases white papers, reports and surveys, and partners at the firm have published a number of books. Moreover, the firm regularly hosts and attends seminars and industry events, also hosting webcasts and podcasts. The firm's research and publications are free to view on its website.
Declaring itself a "steward of the environment," Grant Thornton adopted a comprehensive environmental sustainability policy, dubbed ExperienceGreen, which aims to "minimize the overall impact of business operations on the environment." The initiative is directed from the top down; employees are encouraged to participate by practicing responsible waste disposal methods, and National Chairperson John Messer is the firm's most visible environmental advocate. Leadership is proactive in its environmental direction, funding local "greenest office" competitions and dictating a moratorium on unnecessary travel. In particular, Messer leads by example, hosting industry panels on corporate responsibility and organizing informal sustainability alliances with corporate networks and NGOs alike.
175 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604
Phone: (312) 856-0200
Employer Type: Private
CEO: J. Michael McGuire
2017 Employees (All Locations): 7,250
57 US Offices
Forensic, investigative and dispute services
Governance, risk and compliance
Restructuring and turnaround