Grant Thornton AIMs for the top

You pick your markets and you work them hard – that’s the message from Grant
Thornton this week after topping the annual Hemscott rankings for auditors of
Alternative Investment Market listed companies.

The rankings show GT out ahead of Big Four rivals and clearly dominating the
audit work for what has become the most successful alternative place to go
public in the world. GT audits 142 companies on AIM, compared to its nearest
rival, KPMG, with 135.

Third is BDO Stoy Hayward with 126, then Deloitte with 107 and Baker Tilly
97. The results point to mid tier firms setting out their stalls and beating the
Big Four in key new markets.

Steve Maslin, head of assurance services at GT, says: ‘It’s very much
something the firm has invested in – capability in AIM since the market

GT’s strategy has been to dominate as not only auditors, but as leading
reporting accountants and nominated advisers for new listings on AIM. The firm
also invested in secondments to the exchange when it was in its infancy as a way
of giving its own staff valuable experience.

Interestingly, of the work carried out by the top five AIM auditors, roughly
60% has gone to mid tier firms. Is is also an indication that while the Big Four
– or rather PricewaterhouseCoopers – may dominate the FTSE 100, the mid tier has
made important inroads in other areas.

That said, while GT dominates in terms of number of clients, profit is
dominated by Ernst & Young whose clients produce the biggest aggregate of
profits at £77m. The competitive gains made servicing AIM clients has not
necessarily been repeated elsewhere. PwC has 42 of the FTSE 100 audits, but also
heads the rankings for small cap and fledgling clients with 138, a little ahead
of KPMG on 122.

Indeed the mid tier enters the race in this league through RSM Robson Rhodes
which has put together a stable of just 29 clients, though that is up on last
year’s 27.

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