TOP 50: Small firms gear up for strong future

But, a glance at the firms numbering 51 to 65 in Accountancy Age’s 2002 survey reveal interesting advances and some noteworthy growth figures.

Their financial solidity will steel them against future advances by the consolidators – unless of course they are looking for a retirement plan in the short-term.

Coming in at number 51 with a fee income of £6.6m is London-based ACCA practice Silver Levene. The 13-partner firm has its corporate finance department to thank for its growth rate of 15% this year. Its corporate finance work grew by 50% for the year to July 2001, while its traditional services maintained a steady rate of 11%.

But it is a north-west based practice, Mitchell Charlesworth, that stands out from the rest with an astounding 79% growth rate for its consultancy business.

Founded in Liverpool in 1885 the firm has grown through merger, acquisition and organic growth to its present size of 13 partners and more than 120 staff throughout its five offices.

Conversely, chartered accountants DTE suffered minus growth of 30% in its consultancy practice. However, its overall growth rate of 16% took it into 54th position thanks to robust growth in audit, tax, insolvency and corporate finance which showed, 32%, 63%, 26% and 60% growth rates respectively. The firm’s seven partners are based in Manchester, Blackburn and London and enjoy a fee income of over £900,000 each, as robust as firms higher up the table. But it is the sole practitioner, Trevor Jones & Co whose fee income rivals that of partners in the world’s largest firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and outdoes that of KPMG and Ernst & Young with earnings of two million.

From September 2002 he will, however, be joined by a second partner so he will have to get used to a drop in fee income for next year.

But it is not all good news at the lower end of the table.

Oxfordshire-based Critchleys dropped six positions to arrive at 56th this year with a meagre growth rate of 3.3% compared to last year’s rate of 20%. However, its fee income rose to £6.2m, up on last year’s £6m.

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