It has taken the bold leadership and countless contributions of people around the world to form the leading global organization Ernst & Young 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’ organizations. 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 organization.” 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 organization 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 organization of 167,000 people sharing their ideals and passion to help clients improve their businesses around the globe.
Our local history
In Singapore, our origins can be traced back to 1889, when Englishman George Alexander Derrick started Derrick & Co. in colonial Singapore. While the above mergers were taking place globally, other alliances were being forged in Singapore. McAuliffe, Davis & Hope, one of the early British accounting firms to set foot in Singapore, bought into Derrick & Co. in 1935, and subsequently merged with Turquand, Youngs & Co. to become Turquand, Youngs, McAuliffe & Co. Of the various constituent firms of Ernst & Young were two local accounting firms – Evan Wong & Co. and Ee Peng Liang & Co. Evan Wong & Co., which was started in 1927 by Vivian Ignatius Evan Wong, served many Chinese businesses that became the blue chips of the Singapore economy. In 1947, Ee Peng Liang set up Ee Peng Liang & Co., which started out serving family businesses and grew to serve a sizeable portfolio of clients including public companies. Both of them eventually merged with the then Turquand, Youngs & Co. and Ernst & Whinney in 1974 and 1986 respectively, before the worldwide mergers of Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young in 1989 took place to form Ernst & Young.
View a timeline of Ernst & Young’s history.
View Ernst & Young’s account of 120 years in Singapore.