About this report:
Each country survey considers the most recent available data to
profile the performance and strategy of firms and professional
accounting bodies. Analysis includes:
- Growth and performance. Using fee income and
staff tables, the report demonstrate how firms are performing in
key markets, revealing what factors have created and restricted
- Industry landscape. Market share and key firm
metrics for the leading firms in each market.
- Regulation. How changes have reshaped
markets, plus further directions in regulation.
- Forecasts and trends for 2010. Expectations
and views from senior figures in the profession.
- Recruitment and retention. A major theme for
the profession is recruitment. The issue relates not simply to
graduate recruitment, but finding and retaining staff with
experience to meet the requirements of the industry.
- CPD/training. Institutes have a key focus to
provide good courses for students and profile data for institute
Includes data and analysis on the major players
Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India,
Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea,
Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Turkey, United Kingdom and the
The global credit crunch that began squeezing the world since
the second half of 2008 has already left scars in a number of
territories, presenting challenges for accountants and the
professional bodies that represent them.
Despite an oft-made comment that the
accounting profession is recession-proof, firms are starting to fee
the ill effects of recession as revenues decline and job cuts
spread to all corners of the world.
Firms in developing markets, in particular
those from Asia, have managed to weather the financial crisis
better than others. In fact some Asia-Pacific markets are growing
The same can’t be said of mature western
markets in Europe and the Americas, although in most cases average
firm revenue growth has outperformed GDP growth of respective
This report, written by experienced industry observers, is based
upon proprietary qualitative and quantitative research. It combines
exclusive market surveys over the past year from The Accountant and
International Accounting Bulletin. These are the only
publications that provide an accurate and full assessment of this
globalised profession - the firms and professional bodies that
operate within it.
Part 1 – of the report considers
developments in NAFTA:
USA– The global economic
crisis began in the US and its effects are still reverberating
through the US profession. However, not all of the effects have
been negative, as industry leaders see the troubled times as a
chance for the accounting profession to come to the fore. The
effects the economic downturn is having on the US accounting
profession are varied. There are the more predictable side affects,
such as job losses and tightening of clients’ purse strings, and
the more unusual, such as politicians interfering with accounting
Mexico – The
Mexican accounting profession and economy in general have
experienced tough times, hit hard by the combined forces of the
subprime crisis and swine flu. Yet the profession is still working
on a number of strategic initiatives, including IFRS convergence
and a new strategic plan. Firms in this market are still motoring
on as the affects of the crisis have not yet hit hard.
Canada’s accounting bodies have a lot to deal with including the
implementation of IFRS and international standards on auditing
(ISAs) have been leading considerations, as are various strategic
initiatives aimed at ensuring a continuing supply of accountants to
meet market demands. Canadian firms surveyed have begun noticing
the affects of the credit crisis and although 2008 figures were
respectable, 2009 is already shaping as a much more difficult
Part 2 – Selected European
The Netherlands – Dutch
accounting firms have noticed fee pressure,
much fiercer competition for audit work and
consolidation among smaller firms. It’s tough and a flagging
economy presents a bleak outlook for players of all sizes. Job cuts
have hit some firms
A planned merger has topped the agenda for the
two major Dutch accountancy bodies. There has been talk of a merger
between the Royal Dutch Institute of Accountants (Koninklijk
Nederlands Instituut van Registeraccountants
– NIVRA) and Nederlandse Orde van
Accountants-Administratieconsulenten (NOvAA) for years, which
includes one failed attempt to combine in 1999. Ten years
later the process is again underway, with the institutes signing an
intention to merge in November last year.
Germany – The
German accounting profession has been feeling the pressure over the
past couple of years. New local and European laws mean
new responsibilities for institutes, regulators and firms, who have
been busy responding to the economic crisis.
Although managing to keep stable revenues in
2008, German firms are preparing for one of the worst economic
contractions in Germany’s history. Audit revenue is flat, while
transactions related work has dried up.
France – Elections at both French
institutes, the European Commission and European Parliament
mean changes in personnel
and policy. Simplification, wrangles
over independence and the profession’s code of conduct have
kept French auditors, accountants
and regulators busy over the past 18 months.
European and international issues, including the financial crisis,
meant the profession’s focus has been wider than previous years
when France’s institutes focused on internal consolidation.
UK – The global economic
downturn is dominating the thoughts of all the UK professional
services institutes as they grapple with the potential challenges
and opportunities it presents. Meanwhile, the five major bodies all
continue to expand their global influence.
Part 3 – Selected Other
China – Another strong year
for firms in one of the best performing markets in the world.
Revenue growth of 20 percent and above was the norm as firms
increase their headcounts exponentially.
China’s government has unveiled plans to
create huge domestic firms to tackle Big Four domination. This has
lead to a consolidation rush among mid-tier players jockeying for
This exciting market is evolving rapidly and
adopting global standards and best practices in order to increase
its influence worldwide. All accounting networks have their eye
firmly placed on China and are investing vast amounts of money and
resource in this market.
India – The
accounting world’s gaze has been on India this year and in the most
part not for positive reasons. The revelation of the nation’s
largest-ever corporate fraud, which took place at Satyam, has
shaken the profession and left it battling to find explanations and
solutions. However, the year has not brought all bad news. Although
the global financial crisis has affected India, the impact has been
nowhere near as severe as it has been in the Western world.
Mid-tier firms in general enjoy robust revenue growth.
At the same time, the nation’s two largest
professional accounting bodies are busy with a raft of projects,
both at home and abroad. Student and member growth at both the
Institute of Chartered Accountants in India (ICAI) and the
Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India (ICWAI) has also
Africa – A new Companies Act tops the agenda for the South
African profession this year. The precise details of changes to
assurance requirements are still being hammered out, but no matter
which direction they fall, the accounting profession will be
affected. There is other regulation on the minds of firms,
including the introduction of IFRS for SMEs – South Africa became
the first country to adopt these standards.
Meanwhile, the traditional challenges of a
chronic skills shortages and a demographical imbalance remain. Firm
revenue growth is strong in this fast developing economy but
finding enough staff to cope with demand remains a perennial
It has been a year of change and growth for the Australian
accounting profession. The three major professional accountancy
bodies all grew their membership numbers, made strategic changes
and looked to expand their presence and influence further
Meanwhile, the profession has grappled with a
number of challenges, not least the global financial crisis, while
a landmark review into the Australian taxation system and an
imminent national water accounting system are providing work for
the institutes and the profession at large.
Australian firms continue to be the best
performing in the Western world and average growth for 2009 largely
remains in positive territory.