Leader – Fine result as Top 48 come clean

The profession passes a new milestone on the road to practising what it preaches this week with the publication of the 1999 Accountancy Age Top 50. For the first time all but two firms have given data for publication.

All the firms, especially those who belong to Group A, deserve credit for this new-found openness. Last year only three members of Group A provided full figures. This year all did, except Horwath Clark Whitehill which expressed concerns about the comparability of its results to others’.

As partnerships, the firms are not obliged to publish figures. All are entitled to treat them as a private matter – of concern to no one except partners. Indeed, only a few years ago most would have said just that.

Impending limited liability partnership legislation may have helped to change minds. But the profession deserves credit for having recognised that clients who are forced to be open about their businesses expect nothing less of their advisers.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the other non-discloser, wants to keep its powder dry for a pyrotechnic first-birthday party. In a sign of where real power lies in the firm, the decision not to release figures to us was taken in New York.

We know that the Top 50 is used daily by businesses large and small looking for the right adviser. Faced with ever-greater competition, openness is the profession’s most powerful marketing tool.

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