Top 50 UK firms push £7bn mark.

As predicted by Accountancy Age last year, the Big Five firms’ combined income has smashed through the #5bn barrier, according to the 2001 Accountancy Age Top 50 league table of firms.

With growth of 28%, corporate finance is the fastest growing service and is helping propel the UK’s Top 50 firms towards the #7bn barrier.

SEC strictures and market conditions have taken their toll: the average growth rate for the bigger practices slipped from 18.3% last year to 15% this year. But in spite of this, combined income for the Big Five climbed to £5.32bn.

The world’s largest professional services firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, still refuses to release fee income figures for the UK, but our analysis shows its fees top £2bn – assuming the firm’s 15% global growth rate applies to the UK. Deloitte & Touche is the fastest growing Big Five firm at 21% and has leapt Ernst & Young to take third place. E&Y sold its consultancy arm to Cap Gemini for £369m, but records like-for-like growth of 16%.

Average growth in the mid-tier has nearly halved, falling from 21.4% to 11.2%. This is largely due to the entrance at number 15 of consolidator Tenon into the market. Tenon Group, the first plc in the Top 50, has an income of £58.5m following acquisition of the non-audit arm of five UK practices. The audit business of these firms accounts for a second new entrant, Blueprint Audit, at number 45.

See top 50 table, page 24; opinion page 16

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