Big firms' audit switches set to double, EY claims

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The Independent Online

Little more than a week after PricewaterhouseCoopers poached the FTSE 100's most lucrative audit off rival KPMG, another big four accountant today predicted the number of Britain's biggest audits being re-tendered will double this year from last.

EY, the former Ernst & Young, said 10 FTSE 100 firms are already tendering, or about to tender, their audits when only 5 did so in the whole of 2012. The accountant expects another 20 to do so in 2014.

"The trend now is that FTSE 100 companies are more likely to twist than stick," the company said. HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, has employed KPMG since 1991 and paid it £53m in fees last year. It switched to PricewaterhouseCoopers, which also audits both Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group, earlier this month.

Unilever has dumped PwC after 26 years to comply with a rule set up in the wake of questions that have emerged over why accountants gave banks a clean bill of health weeks before they were rescued by taxpayers in the 2008 financial crisis.

The Financial Reporting Council said last year that companies should consider changing their auditor at least every decade in order to end "cosy" long-term relationships.