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KEY FACTS AND TRENDS

We take an in-depth look at the Financial Reporting Council’s annual report on the state of the accountancy profession

October 2018

Does the UK and Republic of Ireland have too many professional accountants? The
latest Financial Reporting Council report,
‘Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession’, shows there are nearly 164,000 accountancy students inthe UK and ROI, and nigh on 590,000 worldwide.
Meanwhile, membership of the accountancy bodies also continues to grow unabated. The report shows the seven bodies (excluding AAT) have over
360,000 members in the UK and ROI and over 530,000 members worldwide. A quick look at the populations of the UK and Republic* shows there are 135 qualified and PQ accountants for every man, woman and child in the two countries! A quick drill-down into the student figures show only the ICAEW, CAI and ICAS grew their student numbers in the UK and ROI for 2016/17. The ICAEW had the biggest rise at 6.3% to 20,946 students. Meanwhile, student numbers continued to fall at the ACCA and CIMA to 82,1224 and 48,263 respectively.
It was a different story if you look at the
worldwide figures. The ICAEW is still the star of the show with a total of 27,866 students and a growth rate of 7.9%. CIPFA is also showing its qualification has become a real hit overseas. It had a total of 4,401 PQs in 2017 – that’s a rise of 3.5% year-on-year. The ACCA also can’t stop growing outside the UK and ROI. At the end of 2017 it had 414,562 students studying its qualifications. Who can’t be
impressed with these numbers? Equally
CIMA has very healthy worldwide figures
of 127,241.

Bring on the women:

The number of female members continues to rise, be it ever so slowly. Overall, some 36% of members in the seven bodies are female. There is still, however, quite a difference between the bodies. At one end you have the ACCA on 46% and CAI on 41%; at the other is the ICAEW, which has been stuck on 28% for the past three years. The number of female students held steady this year at 49%. This is helped mainly by the ACCA, whose female
numbers are an impressive 57%. CIMA
has now caught up with CIPFA on 48%,
but it’s still the ICAEW that props up the
table on 43%.

A question of age:

While most students worldwide are aged
under 34 (some 77.8%), there are still large numbers of PQs aged 45 and over studying. Some 34,243 in fact, or 5.8% of the total. The AAT (at 12%) has even more over 45s studying its qualifications.
That said, the 2017 figures show 34% of students from the seven accountancy bodies were under the age off 25, compared with 30% in 2013.

Degrees of choice:

The Irish institute (CAI) wins when it comes to the number of students who hold a degree, with 92%. This is some
way ahead of the ICAEW (74%). The number of CIPFA’s holding a degree has gone up from 47% in 2015 to 49% in 2017. Both the ACCA and CIMA degree holders have fallen below 50%, with the ACCA on 44% and CIMA on 46%. If you are looking for a PQ with a relevant degree then it’s the CAI you should choose – 74% of its graduates are accountancy ones. Just one in four ICAEW graduates have an accountancy degree, but it is CIPFA who has the least relevant degree holders, at 18%. The rise of apprenticeship schemes
could have a big influence on these
figures in future years.

Where do they work?

According to the FRC figures, the vast
majority of PQs (276,329) work in industry and commerce. Another 87,833 work in practice, and 54,611 in the public sector. That leaves 171,096 in the ‘other’ category.

Average income:

The FRC also worked out the average income per member and student each body receives. The CAI squeezes a whopping £707 a year out of its members and PQs.
This is closely followed by the Scottish Institute, which manages to raise £651, and the ICAEW on £525. Next is CIPFA on £403 and the ACCA on £315. The average income per member and student
at CIMA is just £214.

The AAT:

The AAT has its own section in the report.
The report shows the AAT membership
stood at 48,580 in 2017, down 1.3%
year-on-year. Student numbers worldwide
also declined by 8% to 77,649. More of a
worry would be the fall in student numbers in the UK and ROI – 18%.
In all, some 51% of AAT members are
aged 45 and over while 35% of students
are under the age of 25.

• The FRC’s sixteenth edition of ‘Key
Facts and Trends in the Accountancy
Profession’ was published this summer

* * At the end of 2017 the population of the UK was 66,181,585. The population of the Republic of Ireland was 4,761,657. There were 360,124 members and 163,809 PQs respectively, according to the FRC report

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