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Staff up 6 per cent in 2001 Back  
While staff numbers in the accountancy industry were up by 6 per cent there is a noticeable fall off in the number of professional staff being recruited.
There has been a substantial drop in the number of professional staff recruited over the last year despite a 6 per cent increase in staff levels throughout the industry.

In total some 5,585 partners and staff were covered by the survey indicating that recruitment across the board is up by 6 per cent on last year. There are now 349 partners, 4,316 other chargeable staff and 820 support staff in reporting firms. Overall, there has been a 6 per cent growth in the number of people working in the responding firms. With fee income up 16 per cent, this illustrates the growth in productivity in the sector.

Some firms have contracted in staff size since last reporting, notably KPMG at 3 per cent (driven by the sale of the consulting wing to KCI). Among the top firms, PwC has grown by 6 per cent, and Andersen grew by 9 per cent the highest growth rate seen amongst the top five this year. BDO Simpson Xavier expanded their headcount by 7 per cent bringing it up to 408. Firms such as Farrell Grant Sparks, OSK, Hargaden Moor and Ormsby and Rhodes have expanded rapidly in the last year too with per centage increases of 11 p.c., 20 p.c., 18 p.c. and 4 p.c. respectively. Meanwhile large contractions in staff sizes were also apparent namely for Caplin Meehan down 37 per cent bringing its head count to 29.

Again, the 80:20 rule applies to ‘share of headcount’: 28 per cent of people in the surveyed accountancy firms work at Pricewaterhouse, followed by 18 p.c. at KPMG. The Big Five employ 4,552 out of the 5,585 covered by the survey.

Last year the survey respondents noted that in the year to June 2000 419 professional staff were recruited and they predicted that in the year to June 2001 a further 444 professional staff would be taken on.

However the results show that this is far from the actual case in fact just 281 professional staff were taken on in the year to June 2001. (see table on page 6)

While last year’s tight labour market is obviously a factor in the above and the ability to find the right staff is still a problem, there is obviously a substantial shortfall to be seen here.

The industry is substantially more cautious on its predictions for next year and estimates that there will be a drop in the number of professional recuits in the year to June 2002 just 253.

As the largest firm, it is no surprise that PWC are planning to recruit 70 professionally-qualified new staff and 205 non professional graduates and trainees in the year ahead. But this does indicate the slowdown. PWC estimated in 2000 it would hire 260 professional staff - in fact it hired just 131.

BDO Simpson Xavier hired 41 professional staff bringing it’s total to 130. KPMG expect to take on 260 staff over the next year - 40 professionally qualified and 40 non professional graduates. The remainder of 180 are trainees.

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