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Happy Birthday(s), Deloitte: The Significance of 1845

Deloitte member firms have celebrated many birthdays and anniversaries, but the organisation’s true origin was with the opening of William Welch Deloitte’s office in London on 23 April, 1845

When Deloitte turned 100 in 1945, World War II was still raging around the world. When it turned 150 in 1995, it was still adapting to the changes brought by the Deloitte Haskins & Sells/Touche Ross merger six years earlier. As a result, when Deloitte celebrates its 175th anniversary on 23 April, 2020, it will be the first time the organisation has an opportunity to mark a major milestone together.

But how did Deloitte settle on that date? Member firms still mark their own birthdays: 100 years in Germany in 2007, 150 years in Canada in 2008, 100 years in Brazil in 2011, 100 years in Norway in 2016, 100 years in China and 50 years in Singapore in 2017, 125 years in India and 50 years in Japan and Malaysia in 2018.

Even for individual member firms, the choice of a single date is not always clear cut. Was the US member firm founded on 4 March, 1895, when Charles Waldo Haskins and Elijah Watt Sells began their joint practice? Or was it in 1886, when Haskins began work as a solo practitioner? Or 1890, when Deloitte, Dever, Griffiths & Co. opened an office in New York? Or, indeed, in 1845, as that office was initially a branch of the London-based firm? (The US firm chose to celebrate its 100th anniversary—and not its 150th—in 1995.)

For an organisation made up of numerous member firms that are the product of more than 100 mergers, any number of plausible dates could be chosen. Is Deloitte’s real dawn in 1952, when Deloitte, Plender, Griffiths & Co. and Haskins & Sells came together? Is it 1974, when Touche Ross International formalised its member firm structure? (Touche Ross itself called 1972 its 25th anniversary year, dating to the 1947 merger that created Touche, Niven, Bailey and Smart, even though its oldest legacy firm was founded in 1858.) Is it 1989, when Deloitte Haskins & Sells and Touche Ross merged, creating the modern Deloitte?

The choice of 1845 was not simply a matter of choosing the longest possible heritage. At least 10 firms that are older have become part of Deloitte over the years, including Quilter & Ball, which was already well established in London in 1845 and Tribe, Clarke & Co., which was founded in 1780. Nor is it just because “Deloitte” is itself the name in longest continuous usage in accounting.

The day William Welch Deloitte opened for business on Basinghall Street in London has special significance. It is the birth of our brand—the world’s most valuable commercial services brand. It is the day that Deloitte committed to delivering outstanding value to clients with integrity. A pioneer and innovator, Deloitte himself originated many of the shared values that unite the professionals working in his name today. His spirit will continue to guide and inspire Deloitte in the decades and centuries to come.

The best anniversary celebration will be to show that we have the will to carry on the Firm, the capacity to preserve and build on its best traditions and a plan to put our purposes into effect.
- Touche, Niven & Co., 1940