Accountancy profession membership rising

Membership of the accountancy profession is growing but the number of registered audit firms is declining, according to the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) report “Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession”.

Between the years 2012-2016, membership of UK & Ireland accounting bodies grew by 3.2% worldwide and 2.4% in the UK & Ireland, making the total number of worldwide members over half a million and 335,000 in the UK & Ireland.

The number of accounting students has also increased in the same period, by 0.7% in the UK & Ireland and 2.9% worldwide.

The report showed that the ICAEW continues to have the largest number of members, with 125,087 members in the UK and Ireland, while ACCA continues to have the largest worldwide student membership.

Research revealed that 16% of students are employed in practice and 11% in the public sector. There is an uneven distribution of types of students in different accounting bodies, with over three quarters of students at ICAEW, CAI and ICAS in practice, compared with 15% for ACCA and 1% or less of students at CIPFA, CIMA and AIA. Across all seven accounting bodies, the industry & commerce sector employs the most members (56%) and students (52%).

Generally, the percentage of female accounting members has slightly increased in the 2012-2016 period, from 33% to 35%. This number is expected to increase further as more female accountants enter the workforce, as the percentage of female students is 14% higher than overall members, at 49%.

Meanwhile, the number of audit firms registered with recognised supervisory bodies (RSBs) has declined 17% between December 2012-2016, with a total number of 6,010 registered firms. The number of members holding audit qualifications has also dropped.

The number of registered firms that are sole practitioners also continues to decline, with an almost 37% reduction between 2003-2016.