Shake up in the UK top 50 + 50 Accountancy Practices

As many of you, like myself, have been sitting on the edge of your seats waiting to hear about the UK Top 50+50 rankings, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief now that the results are here. There has been a significant change in where firms have placed, but what are the most notable differences?

There has been a lot of moving around in the ranking this year, with only 25 of the firms in the list retaining the same position as they had in last year’s Top 50+50. The other 75 can be broken down as below;

  • 13 of the firms in last years list have moved into a higher ranking this year
  • 16 of the entries in the 2018 list weren’t included in last year’s rankings
  • 46 for the firms on the list now occupy a lower ranking than last year

At first glance this may make grim reading with a lot of firms seemingly losing out compared to 2017, but interestingly 90 of the firms on the list posted higher turnovers than they did last year, and combined turnover of the Top 50+50 grew by over £1bn to £15.2bn.

Across the entirety of the Top50+50, only 9 firms posted a decline in fee income when compared to last year, the most notable of which is UHY Hacker Young with a decrease of 10.5% (though this is mostly due to the exit of Scottish member firm Campbell Dallas from the UK Group after its acquisition by Baldwins). When combined with the massive 30.26% growth posted by FRP Advisory, and the incredibly competitive nature of the Top 20 firms, this has resulted in UHY moving down to 19th place in this year’s list, one of many changes between that section of the rankings.

The Top 10 firms are remarkably more stable, with Grant Thornton and RSM both posting a decline on last year’s fee income (6.36% and 1% respectively) amongst strong growth by Smith & Williamson (+10%) and Moore Stephens (+9%), yet every member of the Top 10 spots has retained the same position as they had in 2017’s list.

Visiting the other side of the coin, and as mentioned earlier in the article, 90% of the firms on the list posted considerable revenue growth over the last 12 months, with some of the highlights below;

  • Deloitte - +11.18%
  • Kingston Smith - +13.4%
  • Garbutt & Elliott - +17.16%
  • LB Group - +24%
  • The MPA Group - +24.36%
  • Raffingers - +33%
  • Taylorcocks - +60%

Interestingly, despite massive growth in revenue in many of the firms listed (nearly a third of all the firms on the list posted revenue growth of 10% or more from last year) not many have bolstered their rankings on this year’s list. For example, Jeffreys Henry posted a huge increase in revenue of 24%, yet despite this they dropped 3 places on the list due to incredibly tight competition.

Overall the Top50+50 this year does present a very positive outlook on how the accountancy industry has been impacted by the changes of the last few years. The huge shifts caused by compliance changes, technological developments, and the ever-looming uncertainty of Brexit have not only been taken in stride but used as a platform to thrive. With no signs of the coming months bringing with them any less up’s and downs, surely the industry will continue to adapt and respond, and make 2019 an even more prosperous year than the one just gone.

We’re keen to hear your thoughts; do you think growth in revenue and position in the Top 50+50 is representative of the quality of a firm? Do you think the uncertainties of Brexit could have a drastic impact on next years’ results? And do you think we can expect to see a similar number of firms entering the Top 50 + 50 next year?