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Haven’t they grown? The top 20 firms over 25 years

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26th Nov 2007
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Research by CCH and given exclusively to AccountingWEB shows that the fee income of the largest four accountancy firms has risen by 1092% since 1982 at current prices, against a more modest 115% for the other top 20 firms over the same period.

The Big four’s rising fortunes have seen their staff numbers increase by a more modest 320%. The rest of the top 20 have actually got smaller, with staff levels falling by 9.6%.

“The accountancy market has changed beyond all recognition in the 25 years CCH have been in the UK,” said Martin Casimir, the firm’s managing director. “The unfamiliarity of the names of firms 25 years ago compared to today is quite staggering. None of the Top 20 firms exist now as they did in 1982. All have either merged or slipped out of the list.”

In 1982 the largest accountancy firm had twice the income of the 10th placed firm, but today the largest accountancy firm has more than 10 times the income of the 10th placed firm.

CCH believes that the key reason why accountancy firms have been so successful over the past 25 years is that they have diversified their services away from just tax and audit. The four largest accountancy firms have branched out into corporate finance and management consultancy and are offering many of the services traditionally the preserve of investment banks and “magic circle” law firms.

The increased complexity of compliance and regulation is thought to be another factor behind the high figures. The number of guides CCH publish for accountants is one reflection of this, Casimir said. In 1982, the CCH Information catalogue featured just two titles, a tax guide and a list of tax cases. They now publish over 110.

Top 20 firms 1982 Fee income (£m) Professional Staff
1 Peat Marwick Mitchell 144.8 2,820
2 Deloitte Haskins & Sells 132.6 2,625
3 Coopers & Lybrand 129.5 2,140
4 Price Waterhouse 127 2,064
5 Ernst & Whinney 119.4 2,228
6 Touche Ross 109.2 2,037
7 Arthur Young McCellend Moores 101.6 1,970
8 Thornton Baker 86.4 1,831
9 Arthur Andersen 74.9 1,128
10 Thomas McLintock 70.6 1,407
11 Spicer & Pegler 57.2 1,050
12 Binder Hamlyn 57.2 1,008
13 Pannell Kerr Forster 50.8 925
14 Dearden Farrow 27.9 441
15 Neville Russell 27.3 462
16 Robson Rhodes 25.4 536
17 Kidsons 25.4 523
18 Stoy Hayward 25.4 440
19 Hodgson Harris 18.3 375
20 Armitage & Norton 14.2 303
Top 20 firms 2007 Fee income (£m) Professional Staff
1 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP 1,980 14,320
2 Deloitte 1,790 10,412
3 KPMG LLP 1,454 7,909
4 Ernst & Young LLP 1,130 7,902
5 Grant Thornton UK LLP 387.1 2,855
6 BDO Stoy Hayward 330 2,185
7 Baker Tilly 200.4 1,386
8 Smith & Williamson 152.6 768
9 PKF (UK) LLP 130.4 1,492
10 Tenon Group plc 123.6 1,282
11 Moore Stephens 107.2 972
12 Mazars 90.3 636
13 Vantis 85.3 544
14 Bentley Jennison 63.7 741
15 HW Group 54 563
16 Saffery Champness 44.7 280
17 Horwath Clark Whitehill LLP 41.2 384
18 UHY Hacker Young 39.7 446
19 Kingston Smith 34 276
20 Menzies 30.2 251
1982 2007
Total fee income Top 20 £1.425b £8.2684b
Total fee income Big Four £533.9m £6.354b
Total professional staff 26,313 55,604
Professional staff (largest 4) 9,649 40,543
Professional staff (following 16) 16,664 15,061
Big Four share of total Top 20 fee income 37.50% 76.80%
Big Four share of total Top 20 workforce 36.70% 72.90%

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By bheald
30th Nov 2007 10:06

What about PKF?
How different is PKF (UK) from Pannell Kerr Forster?

A bit more analysis might be useful here. How many have genuinely slipped back, how many have merged together, etc?

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