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Accountancy 'remains an attractive proposition'


New research from the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has suggested that accountancy remains an attractive proposition both in the UK and worldwide, with membership of accountancy bodies in the latter growing by 2.6 per cent between 2008 and 2012.

The total number of accountancy students has risen, but there has been a 0.7 per cent decline in student numbers in the UK in comparison to a four per cent growth internationally.

A variety of factors could be in play here, such as the increasing cost of higher education in Britain, but it is clear that the accountancy profession remains in rude health, at least compared to many other sectors in the current economic climate.

Paul George, executive director of conduct at the FRC, said: "The accountancy profession is an important component of the UK economy and accountancy expertise is relied upon by all sectors of society and all types of business.  It is, therefore, important to monitor the health of the profession."

One crucial metric for this is the level of income enjoyed by accountancy firms, as this can have a major knock-on effect on hiring patterns, expansion and other important shifts in the industry.

Total fee growth increased over the course of last year - worryingly, however, it grew by 7.7 per cent for the Big Four firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young, but only by 0.6 per cent for their smaller counterparts.

Providing more evidence of their stranglehold over the market, this could back up calls for more regulation of competition in the audit sector.

The report added that there is little change in the number of listed companies audited by firms outside the Big Four, further emphasising the role they play in the UK's market.
This February, the Competition Commission outlined plans to reduce this domination, but no concrete measures have been taken as of yet.

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