Mid-tier firms make an impact

Link: Small firms not doing enough to support clients

Mid-tier firms are strengthening their international networks to take on the Big Four, after gaining an increasing amount of work from them on the back of last year’s accounting scandals.

Firms like Grant Thornton, PKF and RSM Robson Rhodes said they are competing against the country’s biggest firms and winning an increasing number of contracts because clients have become more ‘discerning’ due to conflicts of interest.

Steve Edmonds, managing partner of entrepreneurial services at Grant Thornton, said: ‘We are gaining work across the board. For instance, our forensic practice gained work from the Big Four when they were conflicted out. We are seeing that the buying habits of clients are changing and we’ve received approaches from large multinationals who are looking for non audit work.

‘Because of regulatory changes, audit committees are looking elsewhere and we are getting work through our international network,’ said Edmonds.

PKF senior partner Richard Pearson said: ‘There was a category of clients who in the past were con-cerned that the biggest are the best, but now they are realising that is not necessarily so.’

Sukhbinder Heer, chief operating officer of RSM Robson Rhodes, added that his firm had gained a number of contracts from multinationals that had previously used the Big Four.

‘We have aligned our services and capabilities to deliver quality and it has allowed us to compete in audit, tax advisory and consulting services.

‘We are breaking out of our niche by strengthening our international network,’ said Heer.

Last week Robson Rhodes announced a 16% increase in annual fee income from £57m in 2002 to £65.8m this year. The mid-tier firm aims to ‘become a £200m business by 2007’.

In their last set of results, PKF reported a 5% increase in revenues from £102m to £107.3m. Consultancy and assurance saw the biggest increases of 15% and 7%.

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