Big four increase their market share of UK audit

News types: Publications

Published: 28 October 2019

The largest accountancy firms have increased their share of the UK audit market with 100% of FTSE 100 companies now audited by the Big Four*, according to new research from the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).

The latest edition of Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession published today reveals the Big Four increased their combined ‘total fee income’ by 4.7% to £10.95 billion and ‘audit fee income’ by 1.7% to £2.1 billion. By contrast, total fee income at non-big four public interest entity audit firms fell by 8.1% and ‘audit fee income’ fell by 6.3% (compared to a 3% increase in 2016/17).

The average audit fee income in 2018 for all firms with public interest entity clients per responsible individual was £1.46 million, an increase of £0.16 million (12.3%) from 2017.

The number of audit firms registered to carry out statutory audit work in the UK and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) fell by 4.7% in 2017/18, down from 5,660 to 5,394 audit firms. This is in part due to a decline in both the number of sole practitioner audit firms (down from 2,733 to 2,558) and firms with 2 - 6 Principals (down from 2,618 to 2,534).

Meanwhile membership of the accountancy bodies continues to grow. The seven bodies overseen by the FRC have over 365,000 members in the UK and the ROI and almost 550,000 members worldwide. The average annual growth in the UK and the ROI between 2014 to 2018 was 2.2% and 3.1% worldwide.

There are over 164,000 accounting students in the UK and the ROI and nearly 600,000 worldwide. Student numbers in the UK and the ROI increased by 0.2% and by 1.5% worldwide from 2017 to 2018, indicating accountancy remains a popular profession and the UK a centre of excellence.

Notes to editors:

*data as at 31 December 2018.

As always, the FRC is grateful to those who complete the questionnaire on how Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession can be improved.

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