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Employment hit, but recruitment plans recover strongly Back
For the second year running the total fee income of Ireland’s top twenty accountants has fallen. The fall in 2010 follows a drop of 5.1 p.c. in 2008-9, which was the first recorded fall in the twenty four year history of the survey. Total fee income of this year’s Top Twenty firms was €1078.4 million down from €1199.5. The shortfall between the two years is €121.1 million or a fall of 10.1 per cent.

This leaves overall fee income some 15 below the peak achieved in 2008. Detailed analysis of the table for the Top 20 shows that the pain has been universally felt, with those firms showing an increase in fee income in the past two years usually having done so on the back of mergers and acquisitions, for example Moore Stephens Nathans.

Falls have ranged down to almost 50 per cent, reflecting largely the fortunes of clients affected by the recession.
The picture that emerges is one of an industry that has been hit hard by the contraction in the domestic Irish economy, but that has been preparing for recovery by cutting fees, and making itself more competitive. As a result there is a widespread expectation that the bottom has been reached, with firm expectations now that next year’s survey will see an increase with most firms budgeting for a return to growth.

The total number employed in the top twenty firms has been hit, with much of the brunt of the recession taking its toll in the form of wastage, redundancies, and a sharp cutback in recruitment, especially in the initial phase of the recession. Total employment numbers in 14 firms were recorded, with the aggregate figure in the firms reporting falling by 4.5 p.c. (from 8,223 to 7,854) in the past year.

There is very good news emerging however in that recruitment plans have recovered, with planned recruitment in the 12 months from June last to next June up 12.1 p.c. on the year to last June (the numbers are from 842 in the reporting firms to 952). This still is running some 25 per cent below peak levels at the height of the recruitment boom, but the recovery is unmistakable and strong. There is expected to be a slight increase in recruitment for trainees and non-professional graduates but there is a large increase in professional recruitment.
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