The accountancy sector is setting up new businesses at its fastest rate since the recession and at three times the rate of the rest of the economy, according to analysis by SJD Accountancy
Research by the firm, which specialises in services for finance contractors, shows a 6.2% rise in the past year in the number of accountancy practices in the UK, up from 41,455 to 44,025.
The new accountancy practices are a mix of sole practitioners and firms with a number of new staff members.
This represents a 15.5% increase on the 2008 total of 38,115 new businesses.
In comparison, the UK economy as a whole has seen the number of companies across all sectors grow by just 5.3% since 2008, from 2,325,770 to 2,448,745.
At the same time, the number of accountancy and finance jobs increased from 157,000 positions in 2009 to 177,000 at the end of 2014, a 12.7% rise.
By contrast, the number of financial services sector jobs in other areas such as bankers, insurers and asset managers fell from 1,178,000 in 2009 to 986,000 by the end of 2014, a fall of 16%.
Simon Curry, CEO of SJD Accountancy, said: ‘Compared to other professional services, such as law, demand for accountants held up reasonably well during the recession and has picked up markedly since.
'In the past year, the number of law firms has increased by just 1.3%, compared to 6.2% for accountancy businesses, so on that metric the accountancy sector is growing nearly five times faster than the legal sector.’
The SJD report suggests that the increase in the number of accountancy firms is partly attributable to practitioners leaving larger firms during the recession as redundancies, slow pay growth and restricted promotion opportunities, which have persuaded many accountants to strike out on their own
Now that the economy is improving, staff retention is becoming more of an issue along with requirements for a different skill set.
Curry said: ‘Demand for interim accountancy and finance professionals has picked up as projects put on hold during the recession are revived.
'One of the areas where this is happening is upgrading systems to SAP or Oracle and using interim finance professionals to manage conversion projects.
‘With demand for accountants in practice and in industry strengthening, and recruiters reporting a rise in counter-offers for accountancy and finance professionals, pay inflation in the sector is likely to continue to gather momentum.’