Accountancy giant PwC has become the leading auditor of listed UK clients for the first time since 2013, retaking its FTSE 100 client crown in the process.
PwC, Britain’s biggest professional services firm by revenues, leapfrogged fourth-placed KPMG to take pole position.
The smaller firm lost 12 clients between November last year and February, while PwC gained three. PwC now audits 363 FTSE listed firms, to KPMG’s 358 – the first time it has held the client count crown since May 2018.
Stats gathered by Adviser Rankings show PwC also managed to narrowly retake its spot of having the most FTSE 100 audit clients, gaining Hikma Pharmaceuticals and insurer Hiscox to beat KPMG 29 to 28. In November, it was beaten to that position for the first time ever.
The UK’s fifth-biggest auditor BDO lost its FTSE 100 foothold after miner Randgold Resources delisted following a merger with Canada’s Barrick Gold. It still gained ground overall, however, thanks to the completion of its merger with Moore Stephens – placing it third overall for FTSE listed clients, at 262.
Randgold’s exit from the FTSE 100 means Grant Thornton is the only non-Big Four auditor of a firm in the top tier, with the other 99 split between PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and EY.
Across the whole FTSE 350, the Big Four maintained their dominance. They hold just under 97 per cent of audit contracts, with the remainder shared between BDO and Grant Thornton.
The Big Four’s stranglehold on audit has drawn the attention of politicians and regulators in recent months, with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) currently looking at ways to drive competition in the sector.
Solutions floated by the CMA include an audit client cap, which could involve limiting the Big Four to 20 per cent of the FTSE 350 each, meaning the remaining fifth is split between so-called challenger firms.