The number of audit firms registered with the
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has
halved in a decade and the trend is not set to change, it emerged
during an ICAEW general annual meeting held in London this
week.

The institute’s chief executive, Michael Izza,
said the number of firms offering audit services is declining.
Firms registered with the institute dropped from about 9,000 in
1999 to 4,526 in 2007, and down to 3,865 in the past year.

“The number is going to go down even further.
The reason being is quite a large element of those firms has
between one and five audits and you have to ask how long that is
sustainable,” Izza said.

Despite the drop in firms, the number of ICAEW
members has increased to 138,000 and income has grown by £6m to
£82.4m.

During the meeting members voted in favour of
an amendment that would allow the ICAEW to regulate alternative
practices that offer different services, including legal.

Members also voted in favour of an increase in
fees for 2013 and the reappointment of Grant Thornton as
auditor.

Izza and ICAEW president Clive Parritt said
the institute delivered a strong performance in 2011 in spite of
difficult economic conditions.

“But we still can’t see light at the end of
the tunnel and we had to work very hard just to stand still,” Izza
said.