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Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession 2018

Membership of Accountancy Bodies Remains Strong

The total amount of members seen in the seven main accountancy bodies in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland has seen continual growth, with a compound annual growth rate of around 2.4% between the years of 2013 and 2017. Memberships overall have seen a total increase of 2.6% from 2016-2017 compared with 2.4% in 2015-2016.
Although total membership within these bodies has seen a rise in recent years, the number of students in the industry has dipped by 0.4% between 2016-2017 compared to the 0.7% increase it saw from 2015-2016. The only accounting bodies that have seen an increase in student numbers are the ICAS, CAI, and ICAEW.

Accountancy Bodies Income Growth

The seven main accountancy bodies have seen a steady increase in income between the years of 2013 and 2017, yielding an average growth rate of around 5.1%. Out of these seven, ACCA and ICAEW continue to pull ahead, with ICAEW recording the largest income growth rate of 12.1% between 2016-2017.
The ICAI and ICAS had the highest average income per student and member in 2017. This income is generated through membership subscription fees along with education and exam costs from students and is typically seen as the main source of income for each accounting body, excluding CIPFA. The main chunk of income that the CIPFA sees is through commercial activities (69%).

A decline in Audit Regulation Firms

The number of registered firms that carry out statutory audit work in the UK & ROI continues to fall year after year. This number of firms fell by 5.7% in 2016-2017, 5.1% in 2015-2016 and 4.6% between 2014-2015. This decrease has hit most of the regulatory bodies apart from ICAS, who have experienced no change over this time frame.

Trends in Income

The percentage of income from audit work has decreased in 2016-2017. While there has been an increase in audit fees, there has also been a prominent decline in fee income from non-audit work to audit clients.
The maximum amount of non-audit fees that a statutory auditor can bill in a year is now 70% of the average audit fee due over the previous 3-year period since the audit regulation and directive came into effect.
Growth rates of total fee income for all firms with public interest entity (PIE) clients saw a decrease in 2016-2017. However, audit fee income did increase for the Big Four (5.7%) in 2016-2017 compared to 2015-2016 (2.7%).

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