Firms’ ‘schizophrenic performance’ as Top 50 hits £11bn

THE BIG FOUR accounting firms’ improved performance has pushed combined revenues for the Top 50 practices to £11bn.

The latest Accountancy Age Top 50+50 Survey of firms showed combined income for the 50 firms at £10.95bn. Last year the firms broke through the £10bn, with a haul of £10.3bn.

But the latest growth can be pinned almost exclusively to the Big Four, which saw fee income climb to £8.35bn in the 2013 survey, from £7.73bn last year. The four firms are operating more efficiently than before, with 3,010 partners in the latest survey compared with 3,005 in 2012.

It’s not just the Big Four that have tightened belts. Partner numbers for the Top 50 were 5,805, down from 5,842.

Fee performance across the Top 50 firms as a whole, and the list from 51 to 100 (+50 firms), was schizophrenic. The Top 50 saw 13 firms post double digit growth, with 19 posting single digit growth – leaving 18 posting a loss in, or static, fee income

The story was similar for the +50 firms, where seven posted double digit growth, 23 saw single digit growth and the rest were static – or saw a fall in fees.

“The Big Four firms have made tough decisions in recent years on partner numbers, staffing and their structure. They now seem to be running more efficient models,” said Accountancy Age editor Kevin Reed. “But for the other firms, it is a mixed bag. Some are thriving, others seeing fees fall, while many are working hard to stand still.”

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