The power of expertise: Is small the new big?


By Tim Griffiths

Once a symbol of reassurance and influence for both public and private entities, the prestigious “big four” brands held an aura of credibility. However, recent controversy has introduced reputational vulnerabilities – fair or not – for those associated with their services. Could this pave the way for smaller, more specialised companies to emerge as safer, more reliable, and less risky alternatives? Is small the new big?

Big firms, big fees

Recent revelations surrounding Australia’s “big four” accounting firms have opened the door to crucial insights applicable to businesses operating in today’s dynamic environment. The substantial government outlay highlights the influence wielded by these firms. Over the past decade, Australian governments have allocated an more than $10 billion to these firms. This expenditure prompted inquiries into the extent of their engagement and the resulting implications.

The dichotomy of roles

Balancing advisory and auditing functions raises questions about potential conflicts.

The intricate interplay between these firms’ roles as both advisors and auditors has raised discussions about possible conflicts of interest and the challenges arising from such multifaceted engagements.

Our approach at Critical Input

Focused expertise yields more impactful outcomes than generic approaches. At Critical Input, we embrace a distinctive philosophy. We prioritise specialisation by enlisting seasoned professionals deeply rooted in their specific domains. Our emphasis on comprehensive knowledge and focused proficiency drives our commitment to excellence.

Embracing a ‘small is the new big’ mindset

In a business landscape valuing specialisation, insights from the big four offer valuable guidance. In the current corporate arena, specialisation and transparency are prized. We draw pivotal lessons from the experiences of the big four, offering guidance to businesses of all sizes. Our unwavering dedication to excellence within our core domains—supply chain management, project management, and process optimisation—ensures superior outcomes while mitigating the risks of overreach.

A new milestone for Critical Input

This year, we quietly celebrated 17 years of steady growth and sustainability. Critical Input has evolved from a single-person operation to achieving this significant milestone. Proudly 100 per cent Australian owned and operated, we break barriers and challenge the norms of larger consultancy firms by placing a sustainability focus at the heart of our improvement works. As we reach this milestone, we extend heartfelt gratitude to all present and past resources who have shown unwavering support and loyalty. Your commitment has been pivotal to our growth and success. Thank you for being an integral part of Critical Input’s journey.

Navigating with expertise and purpose

In the wake of revelations involving the big four, we are reminded of the importance of expertise, integrity, and a focused approach. As we move forward, Critical Input remains steadfast in our commitment to excellence, embracing specialised knowledge and delivering impactful solutions that elevate businesses in today’s complex world.



 ABC News Australia, “How the big four accounting firms infiltrated governments, earning more than $10b over a decade while taxpayers are in the dark,” July 17, 2023.

The Australian Financial Review (AFR), “The structural problem inside PwC (and the rest of the big four),” May 23, 2023.