Audit firm numbers slump

As of the end of April, just 4,990 audit firms held their registration with
the ICAEW – a massive drop from the 6,671 firms registered at the end of 2001.

The institute said the decline was largely the result of the government’s
decision to raise the audit exemption threshold, initially from £350,000 to £1m
and then to £5.6m in 2004.

An ICAEW spokesman said of the worrying fall in numbers: ‘I think it is what
we would expect. It doesn’t come as any surprise.’

The news followed regulator figures showing that the ICAEW’s membership had
virtually stalled, rising by just over 300 to 110,776 between 2003 and 2004.
There were also 800 member resignations in the first three months of this year.

The ICAEW has recently been accused by rivals of overly aggressive
recruitment tactics to boost numbers – ‘cold-calling’ CIMA members to take up
the ACA qualification – and asking its members in the FTSE100 to help with

Scottish institute ICAS has also seen a fall in registered firms – from 482
in 2001 to 374 in 2004. ACCA saw its numbers peak at 3,112 in 2002, falling back
to 2,880 in 2004.

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