Grant Thornton – pessimistic weather vane

It cannot have escaped many people’s notice in the profession than Grant Thornton has reported a contraction in profits of a around 5% – the first of the large firms to do so.
This contrasts painfully with the bullish talk of KPMG head man John Griffith-Jones about how well placed his firm was.
The question is whether Grant Thornton’s will act as weather vain telling us which way the commercial wind for the firms is blowing.
This is a tricky one, though there is a mitigating factor and that’s GT’s take over of Robson Rhodes last year. The firm was in a perilous state when it was taken over and even though it may have boosted GT’s revenues it has also cost – a lot.
Was it a good decision? There was talk among other firms of not wanting to touch Robson Rhodes with a barge pole and some confusion over why GT eventually went for it. They must have felt like they had a good reason at the time. Though it has been pointed out by commentators on this site that GT admitted 62 partners at the time of the take over, but has since shed around 60. That obviously explains the cost. Al that equity walking through the door has got to bring tears to the eyes of any self respecting senior partner. GT will be hoping that this is the only pain they will suffer as a result of the take over and that the downturn isn’t its real enemy after all.
Ironically though if you go to the press room on GT’s website it’s hard to find mention of the results, though the following headline and paragraph dominates the page –

Plummeting optimism in UK Privately Held Business:
The level of optimism amongst UK privately held businesses (PHBs) has plunged by 57% in the past twelve months, taking the Grant Thornton International optimism/pessimism barometer to an all-time low.

Wonder if the firm was polling its own partners?

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