It has taken the bold leadership and countless contributions of people around the world to form the leading global organisation EY is today. Our roots go back to the 19th century and our founders Arthur Young and Alwin C Ernst.
Arthur Young was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He graduated in law, but became interested in banking and investment. In 1890, he moved to the US to pursue his career in accounting. In 1906, he formed an accounting firm, Arthur Young & Company, with his brother Stanley.
Alwin C Ernst was born in Cleveland, USA. After leaving school he worked as a bookkeeper. Then, in 1903, he and his brother Theodore started Ernst & Ernst, a small public accounting firm.
Both Arthur Young and AC Ernst were innovators and appreciated the importance of quality in their work. Ernst pioneered the idea that accounting information could be used to make business decisions and make a difference to clients’ organisations. He inspired his people to deliver better service to clients. Young also positioned himself as a business advisor as much as an accountant.
Both men understood the importance of their people. In 1920, Ernst & Ernst’s operating philosophy stated: “The success of Ernst & Ernst depends wholly upon the character, ability and industry of the men and women who make up the organisation.” Young supported the development of professionals. In the 1920s he originated a staff school and, in the 1930s, the firm was the first to recruit from university campuses.
Both firms were also quick to enter the global marketplace. As early as 1924, they allied with prominent British firms: Young with Broads Paterson & Co and Ernst with Whinney Smith & Whinney. These alliances were the first of many for both firms, which opened offices around the world to service their international clients.
AC Ernst and Arthur Young never met in life, but died within days of each other in 1948. However their philosophies lived on and, in 1989, were brought together when the firms they started combined to create Ernst & Young. The new organisation quickly positioned itself on the leading edge of rapid globalization, new business technologies and continuous business change.
AC Ernst and Arthur Young would surely be proud of the result — a global organisation of 190,000 people sharing their ideals and passion to help build a better working world.
View a timeline of EY’s history.