Membership of accountancy bodies continues to growby
The number of members of seven UK and Republic of Ireland (ROI) accountancy bodies have grown to over 380,000. But the talent pool could become more shallow in the coming years as the number of students entering the profession decreased by 2.1% last year.
The profession continues to grow, as the latest FRC key facts and trends in accountancy 2021 report reveals that the seven UK and ROI accountancy bodies had an annual growth rate of 2.1% from 2016 to 2020. But a fall in students last year, likely driven by the pandemic, could have a knock effect for accountancy firms.
Analysis of professional bodies
The combined size of members for the seven UK and ROI accountancy bodies featured in the report (ACCA, CIMA, CIPFA, ICAEW, CAI, ICAS, AIA) is 381,441.
ICAEW can still claim the biggest membership at 133,332, but ACCA is not far behind at 103,293 members, and at its current compound growth rate of 3.3% it is well above the average growth of 2.1%. The next biggest accountancy body was CIMA with 84,539 members.
ACCA also surged ahead of the ICAEW in the number of students. Last year 76,208 students in the UK and ROI chose to study ACCA. ICAEW lagged behind the ACCA’s student intake, with the Institute reporting 23,309 students, while CIMA has 47,904.
In total 60,863 students are looking to gain membership to one of the seven professional bodies. But the number of students has actually decreased over the past year by 2.1%.
The AAT’s intake of students also dipped to 48,362 - a 4.5% decrease on the 2019-2020 numbers. The report doesn’t speculate the reasons behind the drop in the students across the professional bodies, but the pandemic could likely be the culprit for putting a pause on accounting students’ education plans.
The profession last struggled with a talent crisis after the financial crash in 2008 led to big accountancy firms cutting back on the training. Early signs from the FRC report show that the dip in students last year could lead to a shallow talent pool in the coming years.
Professional body income
Unsurprisingly, considering the high intake of members and students, ACCA earns the highest amount out of the professional bodies at £223m in 2020, while ICAEW also experienced a continuous increase in its income at £136m.
While these two accountancy bodies were the highest earners, ICAS was found to earn the highest average income per member and student at £695 per individual. On the other scale, CIMA and AIA saw their income fall between 2016 and 2020, down 0.1% and 3.0%, respectively.
Diversity in accountancy
The professional bodies have also made efforts to focus on the diversity of their workforce and attracting members and students from all backgrounds.
Since 2016, for example, all accountancy firms have increased the number of female members worldwide. The ACCA has the highest percentage of female members and students (60%).
The data shows that the future gender balance in the profession may become more equal. The report finds that 50% of students are female, which is greater than the overall percentage of female members (37%).
Meanwhile, the report examined the number of female leaders in manager, director and partner role at PIE audit firms. While firms of all sizes had women in managerial positions, there was still a lack of women at partner level. The firms with over 200 to 2,000 employees reported having 21.5% of women in partner level roles and 34.5% at director level positions.
Meanwhile, firms with over 2,000 employees had the highest percentages of BAME individuals at manager (15.5%) and director levels (9.4%). But clearly as the graph above demonstrates, more needs to be done to make partner level within firms more diverse across gender, BAME, disabled and LGBT+.
Diversity within the profession continues to be an important yardstick for the majority of professional bodies. Six of the seven accountancy bodies featured in the report stated that they collect data on the age, race and gender of their members and students. While four accountancy bodies monitor disability data of their students.