Growth remained positive for the top 31 accountancy networks in 2023, at 8%, according to the International Accounting Bulletin’s World Survey Supplement 2024. The total fee income for networks (for results at their respective year-ends posted in 2023) was US$274.8bn, up US$21.2bn on the previous year.

Deloitte experienced the most growth among the networks at 9%, with a US$5.6bn increase in fee income. However, this was a drop from an 18% growth rate in 2022. In fact all of the Big Four reported slower rates of positive growth in 2023.

Once again, PwC, EY and KPMG took second, third and fourth place respectively. The rest of the top 15 networks also showed positive growth in fee income. HLB came top with growth at 23%.

Among associations, the overall growth rate was 8%, slightly up from 7% in 2022. The top three positions of the associations’ fee table remained unchanged, with Praxity, Allinial Global and PrimeGlobal retaining the top positions.

The leading associations in terms of percentage growth were BOKS International (23%) and Allinial Global (21%), which both achieved double-digit increases.

Advisory slows for networks

The growth rate of advisory services among networks slowed this year, showing 11% growth, down from 19% in 2023.

Outside of the Big Four, RSM led in advisory, overtaking BDO and Grant Thornton. It reported US$3bn fee income from advisory services, representing 16% growth.

Advisory also brought in the most in fees, at US$113bn. This was US$29bn ahead of the fee income for audit and assurance, the second highest fee income of the four service lines.

Tax leads for associations

For associations, the tax service line enjoyed the most growth, at 9%. Allinial saw the largest growth in this area, with a fee income of US$1.9bn, up 39% from last year.

However, the largest service line in terms of fee income was audit and assurance, with US$9.8bn, up 8% on the previous year. Praxity led, with US$3.8bn in fee income, up 9% from 2022. Allinial had the greatest percentage growth for this service line at 28%.

Associations achieved more moderate growth in the advisory space when compared with networks, with a 6% increase to US$4.6bn. AGN International and MSI Global Alliance had the largest percentage growth rates in advisory, at 30% and 21% respectively.

Accounting services also saw a 6% growth on last year, an increase of $0.2bn, while ranked associations saw a total of US$5bn in fee income for advisory.

Regional variations

In Europe, networks showed a surge of 13% growth in fees in 2023. Particularly notable were RSM, ECOVIS International, ShineWing International and Kudos International, each of which showed an increase of over 25% compared with the previous year.

Latin America also saw growth of 13%; nine out of the top 10 firms in the region posted double-digit growth. In North America, overall growth was at 12%, with seven out of the top 10 firms posting double-digit growth.

Growth among networks in the Middle East was at 10%. This was attributed mainly to additions of new member firms. Grant Thornton, MGI Worldwide, ShineWing International and ETL Global were the strongest performers.

The growth rate in the Asia-Pacific region was a more modest 4%, while in Africa, overall fee income remained stagnant in 2023.

Associations in Africa were the only cohort to show a reduction in fee income

In terms of growth among associations, rates were at 9% in North America and 14% in Latin America. This was largely due to the success of major associations including Praxity, Allinial Global and PrimeGlobal, particularly in recruiting new member firms.

Associations in the Middle East also exhibited noticeable improvement in 2023, with overall growth at 10%, in part due to a 64% increase in fee income from Allinial Global. The majority of firms at the upper end of the ranking showed growth, while more mixed results were seen at the lower end.

In Europe associations’ growth averaged 8%, with the highest percentage growth rate seen by BOKS International at 39%.

The Asia-Pacific region saw modest growth at 6% overall. Africa, however, was the only region to have a reduction in fee income compared with the previous year, experiencing a 3% decrease. This was largely attributed to associations losing their member firms.