The Top 50 – The engine room

The unsung heroes of accountancy, the firms that support the UK’s
entrepreneurs and owner managed businesses, are prospering.

The firms that just missed out on making this year’s Top 50 – listed in the
Ones to Watch table on this page – collectively earned £193.8m in fee income,
with an average growth rate of just over 12%.

Some posted headline-grabbing numbers. Henderson Loggie, one of the leading
independent firms of chartered accountants in Scotland, reported a £10m turnover
and a 35% growth rate. Its acquisition of a Glasgow-based firm made it
Scotland’s only top four independent with a national presence in all four major
Scottish cities.

‘The merger had a significant impact on our income,’ says George Hay,
chairman of Henderson Loggie, which celebrates its 100th anniversary next year.
‘Other factors were a significant increase in our tax advisory work, and we have
a niche in forensic accounting which also expanded last year.’ Hay expects
‘relatively modest growth’ of around 7-8% for its November 2008 year-end.

Another strong contender, albeit with a contrasting story, to enter the Top
50 this year is SJD Accountancy. With a growth rate of 90%, ranking it 60th this
year, the firm is likely to be elbowing others out of the way next year.

‘What’s driving growth is doing the very simple things very well,’ says
managing director Simon Dolan. ‘We don’t get into complicated work like forensic
accounting. We do our work well and cost-effectively, and I think that’s what
clients want.’

SJD has already added 1,200 clients to its customer base this year and Dolan
says the firm is on track to add another 1,800 by the end of the year, bringing
the total number to 11,000.

Turnover is expected to rise to around £12m next year, says Dolan, which
could well place it within the Top 50 in 2009.

In at 56 this year, Frank Hirth is also showing solid growth at 21%,
reporting fee income of £9.3m. A niche practice, Frank Hirth focuses on
compliance and consulting services to individuals and organisations,
particularly those with links to the US. Many of its clients are high-profile US

Accountant to the stars Silver Levene, a specialist player in the media, film
and entertainment and legal industries, dropped five places to number 58 this
year. However, the firm continues to post strong growth prospects and a healthy
fee income of £9.1m.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Many accountancy firms remain
partnerships with no legal obligation to publish their finances, so many firms
are not represented here.

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