PracticeAuditAudit shift lacks real significance

Audit shift lacks real significance

When it emerged that PricewaterhouseCoopers had been usurped from its top slot of auditing the most stock market clients, it was very tempting to draw the conclusion that the ancient order was over and we were witnessing the emergence of new power bases within the audit world

After all, PwC has been at the top for so long that surely someone had
learned how to unseat it, push it off its perch? The debate on audit competition
had finally had an effect and the old power bases were crumbling as new forces
in audit managed to win new business.

But a glance at the Hemscott figures does not support this, because it is
fellow Big Four firm KPMG that has risen to the top with 394 clients, while PwC
fell to second with 385 clients, down from 393. In addition, Ernst & Young
is up to 322 from 309, while Deloitte is up to 323 from 317. Add in the fact
that PwC started the rankings in 2002 with 444, and it seems that it’s just the
Big Four swapping clients that has marked what looks like a slow, but definite
decline.

Here’s the sting, however. Grant Thornton is up to 196 stock market clients
from 179, while BDO has climbed to 166 from 158. Baker Tilly’s success is even
more dramatic with a leap from115 to 132. The mid-tier does indeed look as if it
is managing to attract and convince many more people of their ability with the
statutory audit.

But the phenomenal growth of the AIM market will explain much of the mid-tier
growth and, because of its dominance of the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250, PwC still has
more market cap under audit at an extraordinary £780bn.

So what do we conclude from Hemscott? Well, we have to say there’s some
change that could well be significant. But, it’s a little difficult to say for
sure.

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