History of Grant Thornton

A difference nearly a century in the making


The story that started it all


In 1924, 26-year-old Alexander Richardson Grant founded Alexander Grant & Co. in Chicago. Grant, who had been a senior accountant with Ernst & Ernst (now Ernst & Young), chose to leave the comfort of an established company to pursue his plan for public accounting. Alexander Grant was committed to providing services to mid-sized companies, a commitment the firm still holds today.




Building on Grant’s legacy


Despite the untimely passing of Grant in 1938, Alexander Grant & Co. continued to grow nationally under the guidance of several dynamic and innovative chief executive officers. The 1950s and early 1960s were a time of both explosive growth and centralization for the firm. The national office in Chicago was established and net revenue exceeded $5 million in 1961.




Growing and going global


During the mid-1960s, the firm’s leadership decided it was the ideal time to expand internationally. In 1969, with Wallace E. Olson at the helm, Alexander Grant & Co. joined with firms from Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom to establish the organization of Alexander Grant Tansley Witt. This organization operated successfully for 10 years.

By 1980, Alexander Grant & Co. joined with 49 other accounting firms, including Thornton Baker in the UK, a firm with similar qualities, clients, personnel numbers and values, to form a global organization, Grant Thornton International. Following its merger with Denver-based Fox & Co. in 1985, Alexander Grant & Co. became the ninth largest accounting firm in the United States, behind that era’s cadre of “Big Eight” firms.

In 1986, Alexander Grant & Co. changed its name to Grant Thornton, reflecting its affiliation with the United Kingdom firm Thornton Baker, which also changed its name to Grant Thornton.




Grant Thornton today


Now nearly a century later, Grant Thornton LLP is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Together with these international firms, Grant Thornton LLP serves private, public and nonprofit organizations of all industries and sizes across their lifecycle, helping them to challenge norms and find solutions with a more-personal business approach that builds trust into every result. Acting seamlessly with a global network for more than 60,000 professionals in 150 countries, we go beyond the expectations of business to create more value and more confident futures for our clients, colleagues and communities alike.


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