Half a million accountancy professionals worldwide are now members of the UK and Ireland accountancy bodies but the number of registered audit firms continues to decline, according to a publication by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).

The publication Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession, now in its 15th year, collected UK-related data on accountancy body membership, regulatory activities, audit and audit firms.  The number of registered audit firms with the UK recognised supervisory bodies (RSBs) was 6,010 at the end of December 2016, a 17% decrease since December 2012. Member numbers holding audit qualifications have also dropped from 140,135 in 2014 to 129,509 in 2016.

Yet in contrast the publication revealed that total audit fee income for Public Interest Entities (PIEs) has grown, but not for the Big Four who have seen a decreased growth in audit fee income and non-audit work compared to other firms. Student numbers in 2016 have also increased to 576,000 worldwide, a 2.9% increase, and surprisingly more of them are choosing audit.

The RSBs include the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) and Association of International Accountants (AIA).

The publication can be found here.