Just 12% of UK accounting firms started by women in 2022

Just 12% of UK accounting firms started by women in 2022

This is a decline of 10 percentage points from the year prior

Just 12% of UK accounting firms started by women in 2022

Just 12% of accountancy and auditing businesses established in the UK in 2022 were started by women, research from Instant Offices has shown.

The study analysed Companies House data and found that a total of 3,200 businesses conducting ‘accounting and auditing activities’ were registered in 2022, marking a 15% increase compared to 2021. However, only 368 of these firms were registered by women, indicating a year-on-year decline from 22% in 2021 to 12% last year.

Data from previous years paints a similar picture. While less dramatic than in 2022, the percentage of female-established accounting firms in 2020 and 2019 was 20% and 21% respectively.

Overall, the businesses started last year were predominantly launched across London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds.

These findings are consistent with Accountancy Age’s Top 50+50 Accountancy Firms survey in 2020, which highlighted the lack of female representation in senior roles within the sector.

Despite half of all qualified accountants being female, the survey found that more than three quarters (76%) of the heads of firms are male.

Data from the Association for Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) paints a somewhat brighter picture. Of the new practices established in the UK in 2022, 29% were launched by women and 71% by men.

But according ACCA UK’s head of policy, technical and strategic engagement, Glenn Collins, the Companies House data is still “disappointing”, and “there is much more to do” to encourage entrepreneurial women to run accounting firms.

“Inspirational female FCCAs [the highest achievement awarded to ACCA members] are running successful, vibrant accountancy practices. But that does not take away from the fact that they are currently in the minority.

“ACCA works hard to support members to achieve their business aspirations. We work with members to build resources supporting successful small and medium-sized practices (SMP).”

Collins goes on to cite The Practice Rooms as one such initiative – an ACCA member community which includes resources on establishing and managing practices.

“ACCA is determined work hard to understand and overcome both the wider and the barriers that stop women setting up accountancy businesses,” he added.

Female leadership more effective

The Instant Offices study also highlights the need for greater gender diversity within the sector, particularly in leadership roles, to create a more inclusive and balanced workplace. It found that initiatives to improve gender diversity can positively impact business outcomes, with 54% of small businesses, 64% of medium-sized companies, and 59% of large companies reporting improvements.

Studies have also shown that women score higher than men in most leadership skills. A 2019 analysis by the Harvard Business Review, for instance, identified 19 capabilities that differentiate “excellent leaders”, and found that women outscored men on 17 of them.

Of the 17 capabilities, women proved particularly superior in their ability to take initiative, be resilient, practice self-development, and drive for results. Women were outperformed by men in technical or professional expertise, and their ability to develop strategic perspective.

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