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Growth in audit and tax fuels 17 per cent increase in fee income Back  
Fee income amongst the top Irish accountancy firms has increased by 17.2 per cent, according to this year’s annual FINANCE accountancy survey. Overall, amongst the 20 companies polled, fee income in the sector jumped from €765.9 million last year to stand at €902.9 million this year, with mid-tier firms posting exceptional rates. Continued economic buoyancy, combined with growth in regulatory services, financial services and wealth management is driving the growth, and over 1,700 graduates and professionals will be recruited over the coming year to meet the demand.
The growth in fee income in this year’s FINANCE Accountancy Survey appears to have been driven mainly by growth in the audit/accounting area and tax consultancy. Of all the firms surveyed, just over 35 per cent selected audit and accounting as the area within their business that has experienced the strongest revenue growth in the last year. A further 35 per cent thought that their tax division had been the best performer in the past year, while 18 per cent of respondents experienced the strongest revenue growth in their corporate finance departments.

KPMG topped the league table of firms in terms of fee income, reporting a total fee income of €211.2 million for this year, compared to second placed PricewaterhouseCooper’s E210.0 million. This is a reversal of last year’s top two, when PwC took the crown with fee income of E181 million, compared to KPMG’s €176 million. However, it should be noted that KPMG includes figures for Northern Ireland in its total fee income figure. KPMG was the fastest growing firm of the Big 4, with an annual growth rate of 20 per cent. The average Big 4 growth rate was slightly below the overall average, at 14.2 per cent.

Mid-tier firms had an exceptional year. Following the inclusion of Limerick based firm, McNamara & Associates into the Moore Stephens network, Moore Stephens, which also includes Dublin firm Caplin Meehan, almost doubled its fee income to E7.9 million, with growth rates of 30 per cent alone at the Dublin office. Farrell Grant Sparks fee income was also boosted by its recent acquisition of two firms, Lyons Keenan Kilenade and McClure Watters.

Outside of such inclusions and acquisitions, Grant Thornton was the fastest mover over the past year, growing its fee income by a whopping 43 per cent to reach E30 million. Other exceptionally strong performers were UHY O’Connor Leddy Holmes, who recorded growth of 36 per cent, and Mazars, who had growth of 31.3 per cent.

With such strong rates of growth, it is unsurprising that the top firms are set to recruit an additional 1,771 staff members over the coming year. However, with market conditions ensuring that recruitment remains difficult, firms have had to increase the perks and benefits on offer to employees, with bonuses being offered of up to 30 per cent of salary.

The survey also compared the firms in terms of efficiency by looking at how much income is generated per staff member. As in last year’s survey, Deloitte is the most efficient firm, with its 823 staff members generating income of E151,701 each. Deloitte’s partners generate income of €3 million each, the same amount as KPMG’s partners, ahead of Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCooper’s €2 million per partner.

See also pages 4, 5, 10.

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