PracticeConsultingFirms split over survey

Firms split over survey

Group A firms most loath to reveal performance breakdowns in Accountancy Age's Top 50, reports Jon Bunn

Accountancy firms in the UK are deeply split over whether to release annual performance breakdowns, the Accountancy Age Top 50 has revealed.

Firms in Group A – the sector?s middle tier – were the worst offenders, with just three providing full figures.

BDO Stoy Hayward and Neville Russell publish financial statements, while Baker Tilly, recently merged with Casson Beckman, and Moore Stephens offered a spread of figures for the survey, as did Smith & Williamson, ranked 12.

The decision by some firms not to publish has increasingly bewildered clients. Michael Trayler, managing director of publisher Wordsworth Editions and a Moores Rowland client, said: ?I don?t know why they don?t report. Everybody is happier when they reveal results.?

In a letter to Accountancy Age, Clive Weeks, Moores Rowland?s managing partner, confirmed the decision not to publish was a group one.

Zahir Fazal, an audit partner with Horwath Clark Whitehill, added: ?We have nothing particular to hide, but we will not participate until there?s a general agreement on the format.?

Adrian Martin, BDO Stoy Hayward?s managing partner, will release his firm?s financial statement in the next two weeks. But he brought forward key details for inclusion in the survey.

?It?s far better to have an open relationship with your clients and staff and to provide a clear understanding of the nature of the accounting profession,? he said.

One senior Group A partner also admitted: ?The firms wanted to get off the treadmill of always being compared to each other and several were struggling to maintain their turnover levels.?

Newly merged PricewaterhouseCoopers is the biggest UK firm, with estimated fee income of more than #1.3bn – almost twice the size of its nearest rival KPMG (#726m).

Across the top 50, audit fee income grew by an average of 8%, outstripped by tax (13.9%) and consultancy (24%). Corporate finance also emerged as a key income area for smaller firms, with several recording large increases.

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