Grant Thornton UK (GT) has consolidated its position as the
auditor of the most UK Alternative Investment Market (AIM)-listed
clients, according to business data provider Hemscott. The mid-tier
firm gained 17 AIM clients in the first quarter of 2008 and now has
a total of 232.

KPMG Europe came in second with a total of 189 clients, BDO Stoy
Hayward had 140 and Deloitte UK had 136. Of the top five AIM
auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers UK (PwC) dropped the most clients,
shedding six to 132.

Despite the mid-tier dominating the numbers game, the Big Four
still serve most of the largest AIM-listed clients. KPMG have 22
FTSE AIM 100 clients Deloitte serve 15, PwC have 14 followed by
Ernst & Young UK with 12. GT picked up four of the top 100 and
now serve nine.

Concentration at the top

GT head of external professional affairs Steve Maslin told the
International Accounting Bulletin that the mid-tier firm
is making inroads into the 100 largest AIM-listed companies.

“I think you would have to say that if that trend just continued at
that pace, there would still be a concentration in five years time
and probably ten years time. So in terms of us delivering on our
challenging financial targets and growth plans, we’re pleased,” he
said.

“However, it is still a very small inroad into the concentration
issue and I do think the markets are going to have to continue to
up their game in taking actions to speed up the pace of that
trend.”

GT’s AIM market audit growth has been mirrored in the FTSE. Maslin
observed: “On the FTSE 250, which is probably the thing we’re
monitoring, in the last 18 months we’ve gone up from one to six
[clients]. So, you might argue it’s still relatively small, but we
see that as a really encouraging and healthy trend.”

The mid-tier firm has also provided non-audit services to one in
four of the full list FTSE 100 in the past 18 months.

“An integral part of our aggressive business plans over the next
few years is to take our AIM leadership and take that out into the
full list and be seen to be the leading firm of companies of round
about £500 million in market capitalisation,” Maslin said.