15 Oct 2012 09:00am

Grant Thornton revenues up as profits dip

Grant Thornton has seen UK revenues rise by more than 10% in the last year

The mid-tier firm has reported £417m in revenues for the year ended 30 June 2012 today, a 10.6% increase on the previous year.

Although pre-tax profits rose slightly to £76m (up from £75m last year), the average profit per partner dipped to £335,000, a 2% fall on last year.

The group says its investment in the business over the last year is reflected by the dip in profits.  In the period, GT has hired over 300 new trainees, appointed 20 partners and has invested in moving to new, improved offices in Cambridge, Reading, Belfast and Birmingham.

The group will boost its numbers further this autumn when around 300 staff are taken on from the former Audit Commission.

Revenues have grown by 22% across the advisory practice to £205.2m. Turnover in the corporate finance division has grown by 6% , the recovery and reorganisation’s team by 28%, the tax service line by 3% to £91.9m, although the firm said assurance revenues remained “broadly flat” at £120m. 

Speaking to economia about the results, Grant Thornton’s UK chief executive Scott Barnes said he was pleased with the results, and that in the year ahead the firm would be looking to continue its strategy of increasing its audit work among the larger business.

“Our strategy has been over recent years that we would focus on large, privately held businesses, and smaller listed business for the audit practice,” he said. “But, our advisory services do work in the largest listed arena as well - we have relationships with 39% of the FTSE100 in terms of tax, pensions, and other advisory services. So, we have a strong foothold among the larger companies in terms of advisory services, and what we’ve been saying is that we’re going to use that to increase our audit coverage in the largest listed companies.

“In certain sectors where we are already strong, we are keen to move into the larger listed market.”

According to recent research, in terms of the number of audit clients listed on AIM Grant Thornton has a strong hold on the market, with the most contracts at 165, ahead of BDO and KPMG with 130 clients each. GT has been fairly open in calling for the Competition Commission to challenge the way the Big Four dominate FTSE 100 businesses in terms of audit contracts – the watchdog’s report is expected later this month.

Barnes also said that although the firm was one of the better in terms of gender diversity, the group was continually working to improve the balance. At partner level, 16% are women, with 43% at manager level and 34% at senior management.

“That’s not in my view not enough,” he said, “and it’s something I feel strongly about. But we haven’t set ourselves a target, I think that would b a fairly artificial way of going about things.

“What we’ve tried to do is have people in positions who are role models, so Sascha [Romanovitch] is on the leadership team, our head of tax is Francesca Lagerberg, our head of the South West is Louise Evans, our head of public sector audit is Sarah Howard - so we’ve got some women in very senior positions.

"To me the important thing is to have role models in senior positions that encourages people to want to come through to partner level.”

In recent Ernst & Youn results, UK chairman Steve Varley set his firm a target of 30% of all new UK partners to be female and 10% from black, minority of ethnic backgrounds by 2015. 

Barnes remained optimistic about prospects for the year ahead, and predicted growth for the firm of 6-7% in this current financial year.

“I think the economy will remain pretty difficult for the next 12 months, but at some point there will be an upturn in corporate finance transactions,” he said.

“Simply because I think there’s so much money out there sitting on balance sheets, and once confidence starts to improve there will be more investment, which will drive more transactions.”

The firm recently acquired RSM Tenon’s business for individual voluntary arrangements (IVA), which comprise of 60 members of staff and revenues of approximately £5m.


Helen Roxburgh


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