The global accounting services market continued to grow, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.7%, from $460.2 billion to $574.4 billion. Despite a brief slowdown during the initial phases of the Covid-19 pandemic in March, April and May 2020, the sector proved resilient and even saw its sales increase by 10% in June 2020 compared with the previous year. This ability to adapt during the crisis could be partly attributed to the transition to teleworking and the high demand for accounting services to manage government aid, short-time working arrangements and other financial complexities generated by the pandemic.

The French accounting market is also showing robust growth, with a 19.7% increase in revenues for accounting firms. However, legislative changes, such as the PACTE law, have introduced both challenges by raising audit thresholds and opportunities by broadening the range of services accountants can offer. The sector continues to be shaped by technological advances, changing regulations and strategic mergers and acquisitions aimed at service diversification and territorial expansion

Demand dynamics in the French public accounting market

Demand for chartered accountancy services in France has experienced robust and steady growth over the past few years, marked by an increase in sales of around 20%, from €15-20 billion to over €20 billion. This growth trajectory reflects a landscape where increasingly complex regulatory requirements, such as the introduction of the prélèvement à la source (withholding tax), the VAT anti-fraud law, among others, are driving companies to seek expert advice to navigate these changes. In addition, the PACTE law, while shaking up the sector with higher thresholds for statutory audits, has potentially reduced revenue streams from auditing; nevertheless, it has also broadened the scope of services accountants can offer, potentially offsetting any loss of income.

Accounting firms operate in a competitive environment, vying for market share based on their specialization and geographical presence. The sector is segmented into large firms such as KPMG and Deloitte, groups such as In Extenso, associations such as CER France, and numerous independent firms. This landscape is in a state of flux, with firms diversifying their competencies, merging or acquiring consulting and asset management entities to strengthen their market position. Key client figures show that a significant number - around 71% - of companies and more than half of associations use the services of chartered accountants.

Small businesses, particularly those with fewer than 50 employees, mainly outsource their accounting needs because of the limited resources available to maintain an in-house accounting department. The increase in business start-ups, with a notable peak in micro-entrepreneurs of around 73% and an increase in sole proprietorships of around 62%, represents a substantial opportunity for chartered accountants to capture a new client base. However, this positive trend is slightly mitigated by the decline in business failures, which means that fewer companies in difficulty require professional accounting assistance.

Finally, technological innovations are redefining customer expectations and the nature of competition in the sector. The march towards automation and the profound implications of artificial intelligence on traditional accounting tasks herald a future where adaptation and investment in technological capabilities are essential to the growth and sustainability of this profession

The French public accounting market boasts a diverse range of firms, each bringing a unique set of services, expertise and geographical presence. Here, we take a closer look at the main entities that have had a significant impact on the sector.

  • KPMG: KPMG is one of the large firms that has established a formidable presence in the market. It is one of the "Big Four" and offers a wide range of services beyond traditional accounting, including consulting services.
  • Deloitte: Another member of the Big Four, Deloitte is renowned for its extensive service offering, encompassing auditing, consulting, financial advisory and risk management. Its global presence and innovative approach make it a top choice for companies of all sizes.
  • EY (Ernst & Young): EY is a global leader in insurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Strongly committed to building a better world of work, the company draws on its global network to deliver high-quality services.
  • PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers): PwC is synonymous with trust and quality in the industry. Its expertise in auditing and assurance, consulting and tax services has earned it a large and loyal client base.
  • Mazars: An international, integrated and independent organization, Mazars specializes in audit, accounting, tax, legal and advisory services. It prides itself on providing personalized services to a wide range of clients, from SMEs to large corporations.
  • Fiducial: A major player in the market, Fiducial offers a unique solution for small businesses, providing not only accounting and tax services, but also legal, financial and human resources services.
  • Cerfrance: A cooperative network, Cerfrance brings together a wide range of skills to support its customers in accounting, legal, tax and environmental matters. Its associative nature gives it a strong regional presence and a commitment to supporting local businesses.
  • ATH, France Défi, Eurus, Fidunion, Walter France: These are groups of independent companies that have come together to pool their resources. They offer the strength of a large company with the personalized approach of smaller operations. These alliances enable them to cover larger geographical areas and offer a wide range of specialized services.

Each of these players brings its own strengths to the table, whether it's the broad reach and extensive service portfolios of the Big Four, or the regional approach of law firms

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  • Last update : 05/03/2024
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Presentation

The chartered accountant is an accounting professional whose profession is governed by the Ordre des experts-comptables. They keep the accounts of commercial and civil enterprises, as well as non-profit associations. To avoid conflicts of interest, the chartered accountant may not be an employee of any of the structures he or she supports. In France, the profession is regulated by Ordinance no. 45-2138 of September 19, 1945, and Decree no. 2012-432 of March 30, 2012. Chartered accountants' missions are subject to a monopoly, and all firms must be registered with the Order in order to practice.

In France, the sector is experiencing significant and steady growth. It is estimated that sales of accounting services will increase by 34.5% between 2015 and 2023. A number of factors are contributing to the sector's growth, not least the changing regulatory framework with the arrival of the prélèvement à la source (withholding tax) in 2019, the introduction of the VAT anti-fraud law, and so on. Customers want support in understanding these changing regulations.

However, the Pacte law, has shaken up the sector by raising statutory audit thresholds and resulting in a loss of potential revenue for firms' statutory audit activities. Other measures, aimed at broadening the scope of expertise of chartered accountants could, however, counterbalance the raising of thresholds.

Chartered accountants are often in competition with each other, depending on their specialization and location. There are large firms (EY, Deloitte, KPMG, etc.), groups (In Extenso), associations (CER France) and independent firms. Today, we are witnessing a transformation of the profession, with several reforms concerning the clientele of audit and chartered accountancy firms in particular. As a result, players are seeking to diversify their range of skills by teaming up with players in the consulting and wealth management sectors.

1.2 The global accounting services market

The profession of chartered accountant is governed by standards specific to each country (***) in Canada. At the very least, you need to be familiar with the legislation in force in the country where you intend to work.

Despite the development of IFRS standards, the profession of chartered accountant is still relatively ...

1.3 A growing French market

NAF code **.**z covers companies engaged in accounting activities. These activities come under the heading of chartered accountancy and are carried out by chartered accountancy firms. This NAF code includes the following activities:

recording commercial transactions for companies or others ; drawing up or auditing financial accounts; examining accounts and certifying their ...

1.4 The upheaval brought about by the PACTE Act

The Pacte Act of May **, **** has led to upheaval in the public accounting sector, and more specifically in the statutory auditing business in France, due to increases in audit thresholds. Prior to this law, compulsory audit thresholds in France were much lower than in the rest of Europe. SARLs exceeding two ...

1.5 The impact of Covid-19 on public accounting activities

The accounting business was not particularly affected by the Covid-** crisis, and proved to be highly resilient.

Thus, we note a slight slowdown compared with **** in March, April and May ****, with a difference in sales that reached **.*% less in April **** compared with ****. However, June saw a notable catch-up, with sales up ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 The main clients of chartered accountants

Chartered accountants' main clients are associations and businesses. According to the Ordre des experts-comptables, **% of companies and **% of associations will use a chartered accountant in ****.

Rate of recourse to a chartered accountant by structure size France, ****, in percent Source: ****

Companies with between * and ** employees are the most likely to use a ...

2.2 Demand drivers

On the business side, the number of start-ups and insolvencies is a key factor in the growth of the chartered accountancy business.

Since ****, the number of businesses has been rising steadily in France. In ****, **% more microentrepreneurs are starting up than in ****. Sole proprietorships, meanwhile, saw their number of start-ups rise by ...

2.3 Regulatory changes encourage the use of chartered accountants

Regulatory changes are creating a favorable environment for chartered accountants. Indeed, when laws and obligations change, companies are more likely to call on accounting professionals to support them.

For example, when the withholding tax was introduced, a large number of business owners turned to a chartered accountant to help them prepare ...

2.4 Reasons for calling in a chartered accountant

The main reasons for using the services of a chartered accountant are to certify accounts (***). In contrast, only **% of those surveyed use a chartered accountant for business start-ups, and entrepreneurs are not the majority of firms' clients.

**% of those surveyed also use a firm to help manage administrative complexity.

Main ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Value chain

Every year, the accounting profession publishes a ranking of public accounting and statutory audit firms. This ranking only takes into account firms registered with the Ordre des experts-comptables (***) and the Compagnie nationale des commissaires aux comptes.

The top * operators in France in terms of sales are KPMG, EY, Cerfrance, PwC and ...

3.2 The French accounting industry

According to the Conseil Supérieur de l'Ordre des Experts-Comptables, there are **,*** chartered accountants in France today, of whom **,*** are men and *,*** are women. They are supported by more than ***,*** associates, and *,*** trainee chartered accountants.

The accountancy sector is not limited to the profession of chartered accountant, and relies on a ...

3.3 The chartered accountant diploma drives workforce growth

The chartered accountant diploma is an essential prerequisite for practicing the profession. It is relatively uncertain, but every year more than *,*** new chartered accountants join the sector.

In ****, *,*** people graduated from the DEC, a record since ****. The profession of chartered accountant therefore remains as attractive as ever, and the sector owes ...

3.4 Main mergers and acquisitions since 2023

Source: ****

Many of the mergers and acquisitions carried out by chartered accountancy firms are aimed at developing their areas of expertise, and in particularinter-professional relations with asset management. Indeed, industry players are seeking to diversify their range of skills to better serve their customers and be less dependent on chartered accountancy. ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 Services offered by accounting firms

Firm offerings can be broken down into three types of service:[***]

Public accounting in the strict sense; Consulting; Auditing.

Within the scope ofpublic accounting, firms offer services in bookkeeping and auditing, presentation of annual accounts, preparation and monitoring of management indicators, and taxation. They also prepare pay slips, social security returns, ...

4.2 Prices for expertise services

Fees for chartered accountancy services vary not only according to the size of the client, but also according to the region of France in which the service takes place, and the type of service provider.

The accountant's fees must reflect the value of the service rendered, but the amount is not ...

4.3 The development of digital tools

Many accounting firms are beginning their digital transformation by offering IT tools to their clients. Digital technology is becoming a major asset for automating processes, and Covid-** is set to accelerate this transition.

According to Cegid, (***), by ****, **% of firms had already launched their digital transformation strategy. However, only *% of firms had ...

4.4 Supply at risk of shrinking due to recruitment difficulties

Proportion of difficult hires among accounting employees France, ****, in Source: ****

The increasing proportion of difficult hires among accounting employees in France, rising from **% in **** to **% in ****, indicates growing recruitment challenges for this sector. This trend can be attributed to the growing complexity of accounting standards, regulatory changes and increased demand for ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Regulations governing the profession of chartered accountant

Ordinance no. **-**** of September **, ****, establishing the Order of Chartered Accountants and regulating the title and profession of Chartered Accountant, defines the legal rules governing the practice of this profession.

This decree has several effects, including

the creation of the Ordre des Experts-Comptables; the definition of the profession of chartered accountant ...

5.2 New regulations

Loi Pacte ****

The Loi Pacte has raised statutory audit thresholds, inducing a loss of business for chartered accountants. Indeed, many companies are no longer obliged to appoint a statutory auditor and will therefore no longer call on their services. Companies exceeding two of the following three thresholds must now appoint a ...

5.3 The collective agreement for chartered accountants

The collective bargaining agreement for chartered accountants defines a number of rules that firms must follow as a minimum. For example, the minimum salaries according to the employee's hierarchical coefficient are as follows:

Source: ****

If the employer fails to comply with these minimum wages, the employee has * years in which to ...

List of charts

  • Trends in the global accounting services market
  • Sales trends in accounting activities
  • Accounting companies and employees (NAF 69.20Z)
  • Number of DEC graduates
  • Accounting sales index
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Latest news

Baker Tilly is recruiting 300 people this year - 29/02/2024
  • Baker Tilly hired 300 new employees last year, and plans to hire as many in 2024.
  • Baker Tilly aims to reach 2,300 employees in its network of 60 offices in France.
  • Baker Tilly strengthened its CSR division in 2023 with the acquisition of software publisher Act21.
  • The company completed four external growth operations last year.
  • By 2023, Baker Tilly's sales had risen by 17% to €188 million
  • The company aims to double its sales to 400 million euros by 2030.
  • Public accounting now accounts for only 50% of the company's business, with auditing and consulting accounting for the remainder.
Accountancy: CAP 21 joins RSM - 22/02/2024
  • - The RSM Group is the world's sixth-largest audit, accounting and consulting network, present in 120 countries.
  • - CAP 21, which recently joined RSM, employs 17 people - including five chartered accountants and an asset manager - and supports around 300 executives.
  • - CAP 21 has sales of €2 million.
  • - CAP 21 is based near Strasbourg, Germany.
  • - RSM France has sales of 155 million euros and 1,350 employees.
EY receives bill for cancelled spin-off: $600 million - 12/02/2024
  • Demerger project aborted. The preparation of this operation cost 600 million dollars.
  • The audit and consulting firm employs 312,000 people worldwide
  • EY's global operational activities generated $6.4 billion in commissions from nationals national member companies in 2023, or around 13% of the $49.4 billion in revenues generated last year by the firm's various entities.
Gard-based accounting firm Altex acquires Apicap - 23/01/2024
  • financial group Altex has acquired Paris-based Apicap at the end of 2023 for 3 million euros.
  • Apicap employs 20 people and manages assets worth 400 million euros.
  • The Altex group comprises around ten accounting firms, employing 150 professionals.
  • Altex has made three acquisitions of firms in the Paris region over the past three years, and a fourth is currently under negotiation.
  • The group also holds stakes in around ten regional SMEs.
  • Altex, founded ten years ago, achieved sales of €66 million in 2023, up 30% year-on-year
For KPMG, hourly billing of consultants is no longer relevant - 16/01/2024
  • KPMG has invested 5 billion euros in tool development and training in the field of big data and AI worldwide over the past five years.
  • KPMG France's overall sales grew by 7% in 2023, to €1.47 billion.
  • KPMG's consulting business grew by 14% to 482 million euros.
  • KPMG's support services for mid-sized companies increased by 12.9%.
  • KPMG expects the value of audit mandates to double over the next three years.
  • KPMG's recruitment rate maintains the same annual pace of over 7%, with 2,700 new hires by 2023.
Accountancy: Sadec Akelys acquires Burgundy firm Corgeco - 04/01/2024
  • Sadec Akelys has acquired the Corgeco accounting firm.
  • Corgeco has four sites in Chalon-sur-Saône, Le Creusot, Autun and Montceau-les-Mines.
  • Corgeco employs 40 people.
  • Sadec Akelys now has 560 employees at 28 sites in France.
  • Corgeco's sales total 3.2 million euros.
  • Sadec Akelys was founded in 1976 and has its administrative office in Troyes.
  • Sadec Akelys also acquired Bordeaux-based Audecco in 2021.
  • Sadec Akelys has sales of 46 million euros.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Deloitte France
EY Ernst & Young France
Mazars Forvis Groupe
Fiducial France
ATH Association Technique Armonisation
France Defi
Fidunion (PrimeGlobal)
PwC Audit
KPMG Expertise et Conseil

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