HLB rockets into 8th globally on back of 23% revenue rise

05 April 2024 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read
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Up by 23 percent to almost $5.5 billion last year. HLB International’s impressive recent growth story has seen the network jump into eighth spot in the global accounting and advisory revenue rankings.

Accounting and consulting network HLB has achieved bumper growth of 23 percent in 2023 to post $5.46 billion in combined revenues, pushing the firm up into eighth place according to International Accounting Bulletin’s rankings.

While the firm didn’t provide a detailed revenue breakdown by geography, its Australian business last year was previously reported to have grown by around 8 percent to AUD$120 million.

HLB rockets into 8th globally on back of 23% revenue rise

Source: HLB, Global Annual Review

“Through dedication and strategic foresight, we achieved all our objectives, resulting in substantial growth.,” stated global CEO Marco Donzelli. “Our overarching goal has always been to future-proof the HLB global community, ensuring that the investments we make today will resonate for a brighter tomorrow, fulfilling our purpose to create a positive and sustainable impact for all HLB people. HLB stands stronger and more resilient than ever.”

HLB’s standout performer was its Advisory division, which last year brought in $1.8 billion to account for a third of the firm’s global revenues – up from a 21 percent share in 2019 (or $616 million of $2.9 billion in total revenues at the time). Audit & Assurance, which four years ago was a third of HLB’s business, now sits roughly on par with Tax at around a quarter each, while its Accounting practice contributed just $685 million for a 13 percent share.

All up, the 23 percent growth, on the back similar numbers in 2021 and just shy of double digits last year, has seen HLB rocket into the world’s top ten largest networks of its kind, narrowly leapfrogging Crowe and Baker Tilly and into eighth spot (although the various firms’ financial calendars aren’t entirely aligned).

While seventh-placed Grant Thornton is a fair way off, the incoming Forvis-Mazars hook-up threatens to snatch a top ten spot.

“I am very pleased with HLB’s growth rate in recent years,” stated global chair Bill Hagaman. “It’s important to acknowledge that our commitment to innovation has already set us apart from competitors, resulting in significant growth. In today’s business landscape, success favours those with adaptable mindsets. By persisting in our investment in innovation, we have an opportunity to further distinguish ourselves from peers in the future.”

Operating in more than 150 countries worldwide, HLB has also had a significant boost to its headcount in recent years, jumping from under 30,000 professionals in 2019 – the firm’s 50th anniversary – to more than 46,000 last year, with its Asia Pacific numbers in crossing the 15,000-mark now closing in on its European tally (16,660). A further 12,000 staff are stationed in North America, with a lesser presence in Latin America and the Middle East & Africa.

In Australia, HLB Mann Judd – which also covers New Zealand and Fiji – has a slightly tougher, but not insurmountable battle to vault itself into the local top ten. According to the available data, the firm presently sits in 14th place, roughly $10 million behind Nexia as the next highest-ranked competitor. With the top nine firms highly entrenched, the last spot, currently occupied by PKF on annual revenues of close to $160 million, is still perhaps within sight.