Top 50 – Audit and tax hold their own

Even among the smaller firms audit remains the largest earner. James & Cowper, for instance had total fee income of £6.1m and more than half of that came from audit work.

However, one major difference with last year is that a small number of firms saw their audit income actually fall, MacIntyre Hudson saw its audit income fall by 13% while Hays Allan saw a reduction equal to a fifth of its audit fees.

This may be an indication that the market for audit work is becoming more competitive, but it is also partly a reflection of a deliberate policy by some firms of focusing on newer, growing and more lucrative sources of income.

Tax work mostly saw fee income increases in the main of between 10% and 20%, with Cooper Lancaster Brewers recording a hike of 28%.

Fee increases for insolvency work were even bigger. KPMG lists a 34% hike, while Kingston Smith has obviously been working overtime to produce an increase of 53.4% – the second year the firm has seen an increase in its insolvency work by more than half.

In corporate finance, among the Big Five at least, there has been healthy growth with firms recording improvements of more than 20%. This may be as a direct result of the increase in the number of mergers and acquisitions in an economy which has seen much consolidation.

While consultancy, fashionable and lucrative as it is, appears to be grabbing an increasingly bigger share of the work, the traditional disciplines are holding their own and, in the main, producing more income for the profession year on year.

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