EY partners split £368m as Big Four report looms

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The Independent Online

Partners at EY took home £651,000 in 2012-13, despite what the firm's UK leader described as the "distraction" of a regulatory inquiry into the Big Four bean-counters.

Steve Varley, the chairman and managing partner for the UK and Ireland, told The Independent that he was "looking forward to the Competition Commission review coming to an end".

The inquiry's chairwoman Laura Carstensen is preparing her final report with a series of tough measures to break the stranglehold that EY, Deloitte, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers have on the listed audit market. These include forcing FTSE 350 companies to put the audit role out to bids every five years, which Ms Carstensen believes will give greater opportunities for mid-tier accountants like Grant Thornton and BDO to win lucrative work.

However, the investigation has dragged on for two years, which Mr Varley said had been a "distraction for myself and the partners who have been interviewed and taken up quite a lot of resources, including internal and external lawyers".

He added that a second inquiry of the market, which is being conducted at European Union level, needed to be finished soon. "Stability and clarity of rules would be appreciated," added Mr Varley.

However, Mr Varley hailed results that saw partners split a £368m pot, up from £328m last year. On average, partners took home an extra £54,000, while the group's UK revenue rose 6 per cent to £1.7bn. Those 565 partners pocketed less than their equivalents at PwC and Deloitte, who typically took a £705,000 and £772,000 share of profits.

KPMG announces its results later in the year.

EY won two FTSE 100 audits from its rivals in the year, energy major BG Group and property giant Land Securities. Mr Varley said that BG was the "standout win" for any auditor over that time, and "reflects that EY is attractive to those with global ambitions".

EY took on 1,280 school leavers, undergraduates and graduates last year, with plans to hire another 55,000 people around the world.

The UK results were broken out after the firm already announced this week the biggest leap in global revenue since the onset of the financial crisis, with turnover up 7.7 per cent to $25.8bn (£16.2bn).