SJD Accountancy

Number of accountancy start-ups growing at its fastest rate since the recession

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The number of accountancy start-ups is growing at its fastest rate since the recession with the sector creating new businesses at more than three times the rate of the rest of the economy, according to an analysis by SJD Accountancy, the leading accountancy provider to finance contractors.

According to research by SJD, there are currently 44,025 accountancy enterprises in the UK, a 6.2% increase on the previous year when there were only 41,455 enterprises active, and a 15.5% increase since 2008, up from 38,115 new businesses. This compares favourably to the UK economy as a whole, which has seen the number of enterprises across all sectors increase by just 5.3% since 2008, from 2,325,770 to 2,448,745.

The number of accountancy and finance jobs increased from 157,000 roles in 2009 to 177,000 at the end of 2014, a 12.7% rise. By comparison, the number of financial services sector jobs (bankers, insurers and asset managers) declined from 1,178,000 in 2009 to 986,000 by December 2014, a fall of 16%.

Derek Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of SJD Accountancy, comments: “Compared to other professional services, such as law, demand for accountants held up reasonably well during the recession and has picked up markedly since. In the past year the number of law firms has increased by just 1.3%, compared to 6.2% for accountancy businesses, so on that metric the accountancy sector is growing nearly five times faster than the legal sector.”

SJD Accountancy says that the increase in the number of accountancy firms is partly attributable to practitioners leaving larger firms during the recession as redundancies, slow pay growth and restricted promotion opportunities persuaded many accountants to strike out on their own.

“Demand for accountants is often said to be counter-cyclical. While it is true that in bad times you still need an accountant, the profession clearly benefits from an uptick in economic activity. Accountants were focused on cost-cutting and reducing headcounts during the recession, but the emphasis is shifting so that accountants with strong resource planning and change management skills are increasingly in demand as businesses grow.”

SJD Accountancy says that the accountancy and finance teams are increasingly seen as a strategic partner rather than primarily a cost centre with the result that CFOs have become much more concerned about staff retention post-recession.

Derek Kelly adds: “Demand for interim accountancy and finance professionals has picked up as projects put on hold during the recession are revived. One of the areas where this is happening is upgrading systems to SAP or Oracle and using interim finance professionals to manage conversion projects.”

He concludes: “With demand for accountants, both in practice and in industry, strengthening and recruiters reporting a rise in counter-offers for accountancy and finance professionals, pay inflation in the sector is likely to continue to gather momentum.”

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