UK’s top accounting firms smash through £12bn fee income barrier

UK's top accounting firms smash through £12bn fee income barrier

The UK's biggest accounting firms have smashed through the £12bn fee income barrier, according to the Accountancy Age Top 50+50 Survey 2016, supported by Sage. But life isn't all rosy for the profession, as many smaller practices stagnate - or have been subsumed

Accounting’s biggest firms have smashed through the £12bn fee income barrier, according to the 2016 Accountancy Age Top 50+50 Survey.

The survey, supported by Sage, reveals the Top 50 firms increased their fees to £12.8bn, up nearly a billion pounds from £11.9bn in 2015.

The Big Four firms, Deloitte; EY; KPMG; and PwC, once again drove up the figures. Their combined fee income was £9.8bn, up from £9.1bn a year earlier.

Life isn’t all rosy for the profession. A fifth of the Top 50+50 (all 100 firms) saw their fee income fall, or grow by less than 5%.

One in ten of the firms were new entrants into the table, indicative of ongoing merger and acquisition activity taking place in the market.

Differing strategies

While the Big Four has expanded its partner numbers by a total of 6%, other firms have been more circumspect. The other 46 firms in the Top 50 increased partner numbers by 1.9%, while the +50 (51 to 100) saw partner numbers fall 2%.

“The survey shows that the UK’s top accountancy firms are continuing to navigate a very uncertain world,” said Accountancy Age head of editorial Kevin Reed.

“But their journeys are all different. Many firms have maintained static performance and left their partner numbers unchanged. Others have grown fees, but through acquisition. Yet the Big Four, which have faced criticism from investors, parliament and governance commentators over their audit, tax and insolvency offerings, continue to invest and grow.”

Overall, the Top 50+50 firms’ combined fee income was £13.1bn, from £12.3bn in 2015.

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