£1bn but at what cost?

top 50 firms accountancy age

More than £1bn has been added to the combined fee income for the UK’s Top 50
accountancy firms, signifying another stunning business performance against a
market in which key drivers have been lost. Fees now top £8.7bn, the hike in
just 12 months equating to the revenues of a Big Four firm.

But our 2007 Top 50 survey reveals much more. It also shows that only 9.7% of
partners are women, and that just 5.9% of partners are from ethnic minorities.

More arresting is the statistic that the Big Four can only boast of 3% of
partners coming from ethnic minority groups. Only 13 of the 50 could tell us
they had any kind of policy to deal with reducing carbon emissions.

So while this year’s survey clearly indicates that the firms have mastered
the art of making money, could they claim, as leaders and innovators in
business, that they have made the right progress in terms of improving ethnic
and gender diversity, as well as taking the lead on the environment?

Do these things matter? We think they do. Writing in Accountancy Age
last month Ashley Steel, a KPMG partner and the only openly gay board member of
a Big Four firm, said that without a truly diverse workforce, firms may struggle
to deliver on their commitment to quality.

Quality work relies on recruiting from the widest possible pool of talent.
And that talent needs an unobstructed path to the top. Similarly, if the firms
are to lead business on the environment they will have to demonstrate openly
their commitment to environmental principles.

Average growth of the Top 50 firms stands at 13%, down slightly on last
year’s 15.5%, but impressive all the same. The firms have addressed their
business needs. For now. If they are to maintain their position as leaders of
business, it is these issues they will have to address.

To have your say on our Top 50 Survey email

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