Big four make up lion’s share of £11bn accountancy fee income

Marion Dakers
FEE income at Britain’s 60 biggest accountancy firms totalled almost £11bn last year, as the biggest firms gained work in consulting and corporate finance while the mid-tier firms fought to grow.

The big four professional services firms – PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG – made up £8.35bn of the top 60 firms’ earnings, according to a survey by Accountancy magazine. This represents an average rise of 9.6 per cent on the previous year.

By comparison, the sixth to 10th largest firms posted flat fee income of £1.39bn.

The top 60 accountancy groups posted net fee income up 7.9 per cent from last year to £10.98bn.

The sector is awaiting the results of a Competition Commission investigation into the big four’s hold on the statutory audit market, which is due within weeks.

Firms will also learn this year whether Europe will impose tough new rules compelling companies to put their audit work out to tender after a certain period.

Industry income has increased steadily for the past two years, but outside the big four the sector has seen both stellar growth and difficult trading.

A number of small and mid-tier firms have announced mergers in the last year, a trend that many accountants expect to continue.

“We were both keen to lead the way and do it from a position of strength,” BDO managing partner Simon Michaels, who last month announced a tie-up with PKF, told Accountancy.

In spite of a patchy performance across the sector, the top 60 firms added more than 4,000 jobs in the year to take their total to almost 74,000, around 6,000 of which are partners.