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Survey Finds Big Four Firms Dominate Sustainability Consulting, Assurance

The Big Four accounting firms — Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC  have the strongest brand preference in both the sustainability consulting and sustainability assurance markets, according to a global survey of 250 heads of sustainability. 

Independent analyst firm Verdantix found that in sustainability consulting, Ernst & Young leads with a brand preference score of 39%, relative to 37% for KPMG, 33% for Deloitte and 30% for PwC. Among the management consulting firms, Accenture achieved a score of 22% beating McKinsey on 21% and Bain on 15%.

KPMG achieved the highest brand preference score in the sustainability assurance market with 36%, just ahead of Ernst & Young with 35% of survey respondents, indicating a positive brand perception. Bureau Veritas reached 22%, the highest brand preference for a supplier outside of the Big Four.

“The Big Four’s global scale and their willingness to make strategic investments have enabled them to out-muscle management consultancies in multiple markets,” commented David Metcalfe, Verdantix CEO. “Even in the assurance market, the Big Four now have higher brand awareness than the global environmental certification players like DNV, SGS and URS Corporation.”

The survey also looked at software and not-for-profits in the field. In the software category, Microsoft leads global brand preference with heads of sustainability, as a provider of software for sustainability management with a score of 39%. SAP is close behind with 38% followed by Oracle and IBM. Specialist software firms CarbonSystems and Credit360 both achieved the highest brand preference score of 16%.

Among the not-for-profits, CDP and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) top the brand preference list among 250 heads of sustainability, scoring 57% and 61% respectively. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reached a brand preference score of 48% and the UN Environment Program 44%.

The survey is based on interviews with the most senior sustainability decision-makers in firms with annual revenues greater than $250 million, across 21 industries in 13 countries.  

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant.


Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also an associate editor for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_kingGoogle+

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