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Big Four fee growth outpaces smaller firms

THE BIG FOUR accounting firms registered an impressive 7.7% increase in fee income over the last financial year, while smaller firms struggled with minimal growth of 0.6%, according to figures published by the accountancy regulator.

In its latest report into the accountancy profession, the FRC found that PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young improved their earnings from audit work by 4.9%, while audit fees for the larger firms outside the Big Four fell by 5%.

Over the last five years the Big Four have steadily increased the proportion of fee income they derive from non-audit work for non-audit clients so that is now makes up 64% of the fee income, though the amount of work performed for audit clients continued to reduce to 13% of overall income.

The report also found that total membership of the main accountancy bodies continues to increase with growth rates for 2008-12 at 2.6% growth  in the UK and 3.5% worldwide. The seven institutes – ICAEW, ACCA, CIMA, AIA, ICAS, CIPFA, CAI – have over 319,000 in the UK and Ireland and 450,000 members worldwide.

Total numbers of students – a key benchmark for the attractiveness of the profession – increased by 2.3% worldwide, but experienced a 3.3% drop in UK numbers over the past year. UK student numbers have fallen 0.7% over the past five years.

“The report reveals a profession that continues to be attractive with the number of members continuing to increase both in the UK and worldwide,” said Paul George, executive director conduct at the FRC.

The ICAEW remains the largest institute in the UK and Ireland with 119,179 members, while ACCA is the largest body in terms of worldwide membership with 158,574 members around the world.

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