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Ernst And Young Never Met

July 2, 2012

One of the four largest accounting firms in the world bears the name Ernst & Young. What is interesting to note about this company is the two individuals who own the names never even met.  These two were born in different countries and in different years. Ernest and Young both did their practice in the U.S. and both died in the same year never meeting each other.

Arthur Young was born in 1863 in Glasgow, Scotland. While a graduate of law, his interest took him to banking and investment. To pursue his career in accounting he went to the U.S. in 1890. Around 17 years later along with his brother Stanley he established Arthur Young and Company.  He had his niche as an accountant and business advisor.

Alvin C. Ernst was an American born in Cleveland in 1881. He worked as a book keeper and similar to Young formed a small accounting firm with his brother Theodore named Ernst & Ernst in 1903. Ernst had a very pioneering approach of using accounting information as a basis for making business decisions and that this would make a difference in a business organization.

Both these two men understood the importance of their staff for the company’s success. Young even originated a staff school in the 1920s and his firm was the first to recruit from university campuses in the 1930s. The two were keenly aware of the global market. They formed alliances with British firms. Later they would form alliances with other companies around the world which allowed them to provide services to international clients.

Of great coincidence both men died within days of each other in 1948 without ever meeting. Their companies outlived them and continued to grow. As part of their practice of partnering with other entities the two companies combined in 1989 to form Ernst & Young.

Today the company is limited or in other words privately held. It has around 700 offices in 140 countries with 141,000 employees.  Aside from accounting and auditing services Ernst & Young provides legal and advisory services including corporate transactions like mergers and acquisitions and public offerings.  Its annual revenue tops $21 billion.

Ernst and Young never met but they left behind one of the largest accounting firms that ever existed.

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