Grant Thornton UK has cited a recent
merger, the recession and natural attrition as the root causes of a
17 percent partner decline in the 2008/09 financial year. The firm
revealed its partnership dropped from 286 to 237 partners.

Grant Thornton chief executive Scott
Barnes told the International Accounting
was “nothing unusual” about the contracting partnership. He said
one of the reasons was the firm’s merger with Robson Rhodes in

“If you look at all the mergers that take
place between the big accounting firms there is usually a
rationalisation programme after a year or two, so part of it is to
do with that,” Barnes explained.

The firm had about 20 partners retire in 2009,
although quickly replaced them with 15 new additions. A couple of
the partners that retired will remain at the firm as consultants
while some have become directors, Barnes said.

Another cause Barnes cited was the recession,
with some partners departing to go to other organisations and other
partners being asked to leave. Barnes said the mid-tier firm is
still on the lookout for new partners and in the past month
admitted two more.

Grant Thornton said the drop is not a sign of
troubled times and the firm is not looking to make any significant
cuts over the next year.

“We have been through that process of looking
at the business to make sure that we are in good shape for the
future,” Barnes said. “We are very confident of the future and are
forecasting quite a significant rise in our profitability this
year. I think the economy will improve and even if times continue
to be tough over the next 12 months we are still expecting our
profits to rise”.

Last month, UK mid-tier rival BDO Stoy Hayward
announced 10 percent of the partners from its UK business would
leave the firm.