CPA firms saw big gains in both income and fees last year, thanks to the demand for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance services, according to a newly released survey.

Firms with annual net fees over $2 million saw those fees grow 11.4 percent in 2006, up from 9.7 percent in 2005, according to the annual Rosenberg MAP Survey from Rosenberg Associates. These same firms' partners also did well, with average income per partner of $350,000, up from $311,000 in 2005.

Firms at the high end with over $10 million in net fees achieved an annual growth rate of 16.3 percent and saw income per partner reach an average of $473,897. For firms under $2 million in net fees, the annual growth rate was a more modest 5.2 percent, however, and the income per partner was $190,802.

Annual billable hours for staff declined a bit to 1,527 in 2006 from 1,539 in 2005, according to the survey of 301 firms. The average partner age continues to rise, with 54 percent of all partners at multi-partner firms now over age 50, compared to 51.5 percent in 2005. That may help explain why 7 to 9 percent of all partners will be retiring within the next three years.

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