The accounting profession had "another solid, though not spectacular, year in 2003," according to the latest MAP Survey from Wilmette, Ill.-based Rosenberg Associates.
Last year's revenues were up 6.3 percent from 2002. Most of the 218 firms surveyed posted revenue increases, and about a third upped fees by more than 10 percent. Almost one in five of the firms, however, posted revenue decreases, some by more than 10 percent over 2002 figures. Profits, as measured by income per partner, stood at $246,000 per partner, up 3.3 percent from the previous year. Average billable hours for staff dropped to 1,506 in 2003, down from a high of 1,622 five years ago. The continuing transition to paperless or digital operations, however, may be "masking the real growth of the profession" in billable hours, as firms are able to get more out in less time.
Among other findings: Staffing shortages have forced some firms to curtail marketing efforts; almost none of the firms surveyed (most of which had annual net fees of $2 million to $10 million) reported "significant" fee increases from Sarbanes-Oxley; and only 5 percent of firms expect to outsource a "significant number" of tax returns in 2005.
Also, almost half the firms offer financial advisory services. Of those, a quarter reported "meaningful" profit from this area, and buy-out multiples paid to retiring partners averaged 80 percent.
The full survey is $200. More information is available at www.rosenbergassoc.com.
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