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Why Big 4 Are Not In The Fortune 500? Solved

The Fortune 500 is the annual list published by Fortune magazine, that ranks the top 500 corporations by revenue in the United States.

The ‘Big 4’ – Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG – all make multiple billions of dollars per year, so are they on this list? Yeah!?

The ‘Big 4’ are not on the Fortune 500 list. This is because they are professional services firms and so do not fit the criteria for inclusion. They do not have publicly available data for their revenue.

In terms of revenue size, the ‘Big 4’ would certainly be on the list if they met the criteria. However, they don’t and that’s just the way it is!

In this post, I’ll take a look at:

  • Exactly why the ‘Big 4’ are not in the Fortune 500
  • What the Fortune 500 is
  • The kinds of companies you find on the Fortune 500 – sector, size, etc
  • How the ‘Big 4’ operate (that makes them invalid for the Fortune 500)

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are the Big 4 on the Fortune 500

What Is The Fortune 500?

The Fortune 500 is published annually by Fortune Magazine. It’s a big deal when it comes out each year, and is the talk of the town!

Many people like to gossip about company’s rising or falling through the list. But the list does have some very important functions also.

For example, the Fortune 500 list:

  • Gives an important snapshot of the United States’ top businesses
  • It serves as a benchmark for their market dominance and financial success
  • It is used by investors to plan future moves
  • It is used by researchers and business analysts
  • It is a barometer of the US economy.

For a short rundown of what the Fortune 500 is, Fortune Magazine created the following excellent Youtube video that explains it all (and it’s only 2 minutes long):

So Why Are The ‘Big 4’ Not In The Fortune 500 Again?

The simple answer to the question is the Big 4 – Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG – do not fit the criteria for inclusion.

Probably the biggest thing against them is that they are not publicly owned companies. This means they do not publicly reveal their revenue (and so makes it kind of tricky to include them in a list like this without some serious guessing!) To be honest, this is the biggest reason.

Another big reason is that they are Professional Service Firms.

Are Professional Service Firms On The Fortune 500?

The Fortune 500 does also not include professional service firms. The following are typically not included on the Fortune 500 list:

  • Law firms
  • Accounting firms
  • Consulting firms

The Big 4 are run as partnerships. This means that the businesses are in essence owned by the partners.

Are Partnerships ON The Fortune 500?

Partnerships is not a business model that is represented on the Fortune 500.

The Fortune 500 list is limited to US corporations with publicly available revenue data.

Partnerships do not make their revenue data public, as they have no investors (or at least not in the same way that a public company does).

The Big 4 do not have publicly traded stocks.

Partnerships operate as privately owned businesses and do not publicly report their financial results.

Who Is On The Fortune 500 List?

So, who actually is on this list then?

Well, pretty much all the other giant United States corporations. They are ranked by their total revenue (the amount of money coming in), rather than profit.

Companies on the list are from a range of industries, such as:

  • Technology
  • Finance
  • Retail
  • Energy
  • Healthcare

What Sort of Corporations Are On The List

The list changes from year to year. You can check out the current year’s list here –

That said, there are corporations on the list that are commonly up near the top year on year. These are all household names, such as:

  • Walmart
  • Berkshire Hathaway
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • ExxonMobil
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Procter & Gamble
  • AT&T
  • Verizon Communications

How these companies fare year to year on the list gives powerful indications about these companies and the respective markets as a whole.

What Does The Fortune 500 Measure?

Quite simply, the Fortune 500 measure revenue. This is the amount of money coming into the corporation. It does not measure profit.

It is limited to publicly available revenue data.

What Revenue Is Made Yearly By PwC, EY, Deloitte, and KPMG?

None of the ‘Big 4’ publicly discloses their revenue data, so unfortunately any attempts to answer this are just estimates.

All four corporations are massive, with revenue well into billions of dollars per year.

All of the ‘Big 4’ operate in around 150 countries around the world and have offices in multiple cities in those countries. In the United States, they have branches in the vast majority of the states (and sometimes multiple in one state). (Source)

Online you may find guesses of their revenue, and where they fit in the big picture of the Fortune 500. However, these are only exactly that – guesses!

What Are The Most Common Sectors On The Fortune 500?

Most years, the most common sector on the Fortune 500 is retail. Walmart is often either top or close to top.

This is followed by finance and technology.

Other sectors that are represented generally lower include healthcare, transportation, energy, and telecommunications.

Things change to a degree from year to year, but the above representation of each sector tends to stay reasonably consistent.

How Do Investors Use The Fortune 500?

Many investors use the Fortune 500 as a good indicator of the current state of the market.

It is useful as a means of:

  • Understanding which companies are rising or falling in relation to other corporations
  • Trends in the market
  • Sector trends
  • The overall growth or decline of the economy as a whole


  • Will Bennett

    Will Bennett is a Cambridge graduate. He worked as a Consultant and Senior Consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in London. Will is the Founder of The Cambridge Consultant.