Practice – Mazars boosts UK network

Mid-tier firm Mazars Neville Russell is stepping up efforts to get struggling small firms to join its 44-strong network, in a bid to stave off the squeeze on small firms.

The network, Acumet, was launched last week, just a week after Accountancy Age’s Top 50 league table of UK firms revealed how the mid-tier is squeezing smaller practices. Mid-tier firms enjoyed fee increases of 13.7% over the last 12 months, compared to 11.2% average rises for small firms.

Jane Kustner, Mazars partner responsible for managing Acumet, said: ‘It will be difficult for a small firm to survive in the future without the support of a network.’

She warned things could get even more difficult for firms if the audit threshold is increased to £4.2m, as the government is threatening.

By joining the network, she argued, a small firm would be able to satisfy the needs of growing clients without losing its independence through a merger or takeover. It would also have access to Mazars’ computerised audit system. Firms have to pay an annual fee to Mazars for the privilege, but also receive access to advice and expertise from the firm on a wide range of UK and global issues.

Kustner hopes the network will grow to around 100 members by the end of next year. Members range in size from sole practitioners up to firms with around 17 partners.

Other firms such as Grant Thornton and BDO Stoy Hayward have similar networks.

The UK 200 Group also provides a way for smaller firms to share expertise and resources.

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