Top 50+50: Ranking reshuffle as firms break £15bn barrier

Top 50+50: Ranking reshuffle as firms break £15bn barrier

This year’s rankings demonstrated widespread growth across the table, but which firms are the movers and shakers of 2018?

UK accountancy firms have faced a multitude of challenges in the past 12 months, with the rise of technology, new regulation, Brexit scenarios and the search for talent representing only a handful of issues that have sparked uncertainty and disruption in the sector.

Yet the Accountancy Age Top 50+50 2018 has found that that the top UK accountancy firms have overcome these barriers to post record UK fee income in the last financial year, breaking the £15bn barrier.

At £15.2bn, total fee income is up on the £14.2bn generated in 2017, and the £13.1bn recorded in 2016, signalling positive growth for the accountancy industry, despite the uncertain climate.

This year’s rankings also demonstrated widespread growth across the table – from the Big Four through to the smaller firms in the listing.

So which firms are the movers and shakers of 2018?

Big Four

PwC retains the top position in the 2018 ranking, posting fee income of £3.6bn, up 5% on 2017 results. Chasing the firm in second is Deloitte, which at 11.18% up on last year recorded the strongest growth across the Big Four. The firm has closed the fee income gap between itself and PwC, reducing 2017’s £397m gap to £218m.

With £2.35bn fee income, EY sits in third having increased its figures by 9.2% compared to last year. Rounding out the Big Four, KPMG recorded the smallest increase out of the Big Four – 3.8% to reach £2.15bn.

Top Ten

There has been no change in the position of the Top Ten firms compared to 2017. Yet while BDO, Smith & Williamson, Moore Stephens and Mazars all saw a positive increase on fee income, Grant Thornton and RSM recorded declines at -6.36% and -1% respectively. Smith & Williamson registered the highest growth with 10% followed by Moore Stephens on 9.02% and BDO on 7.61%. BDO’s increase means that there is now only £38.8m separating the firm and Grant Thornton, compared to £105.3m in 2017.

Top 20

While the Top Ten has remained steady, the Top 20 has undergone a reshuffle with Menzies dropping to 21 from 20. This can be attributed to the rise of FRP Advisory, which with a 30.26% increase on last year’s fee income settled into 18th position in the table. Elsewhere MHA MacIntyre Hudson moved one place into 15 and Wilkins Kennedy jumped two places to 16, while Kingston Smith fell one place to 20 and UHY Hacker Young dropped from 15 to 19.

UHY Hacker Young’s drop comes after the firm posted a decline in fee income of -10.5%. However, the decline follows the exit of Scottish member firm Campbell Dallas from the UK Group after its acquisition by Baldwins. The rest of the UK Group reported positive growth.

Top 50

The Top 50 has seen a slight reshuffle this year, although no major gains or losses have been made. Hazlewoods, at a 28.42% increase in fee income moved up two places, while haysmacintyre also jumped two with a 10% increase. Mercer & Hole climbed two places with 11.01% increase while Barber Harrison & Platt remained at 33 despite 11.6% growth. Smith Cooper has also remained at 47 while posting a 15% increase.

Top 100

In the latter half of the table, MHA Monahans rose one place to 57 with 19.6% increase on fee income and Taylorcocks jumped 10 places from 65 to 55 with fee income of £13m and the largest increase in fee income of 60%. Raffingers posted the second largest increase in fee income of 33%, jumping five places.

For the rest, it seemed a very different story. Growth was seen across the board but firms tumbled down the table, displaced by strong new entries. Goodman Jones dropped four places yet recorded a 10.2% increase, Jeffreys Henry dropped three positions with 24% growth, and Garbutt & Elliott was down five places with a 17.16% increase.

Strong and positive results

This year’s Top 50+50 ranking demonstrates that accountancy firms are thriving in the face of uncertainty, with the majority of practices navigating compliance, technological and Brexit challenges to make gains on 2017. As we await further political and economic uncertainty in the coming months, it seems likely that we’ll see UK accountancy firms adapt and respond to ensure continuing growth in 2019.

View the Top 50+50 Accountancy Firms 2018.

Get involved in the discussion by joining us on Twitter @AccountancyAge and using #AATop50.

Join us later this week as we look at diversity in the Top 50+50 firms and reveal the forecast for 2019.

The Top 50+50 is compiled based on data submitted by UK accountancy firms. Only firms that submitted data are included in the rankings.

View the Top 50+50 Accountancy Firms 2017.

This article was updated on 20 September to reflect Taylorcock’s fee income increase of 60%. 

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