Market research: Professional services benchmark and accountancy profession statistics

I regularly scan the media for information relevant to professional services benchmarks and market updates. I share some of my findings to support marketers who are conducting PESTLE, competitor and commercial analyses. Here is a professional services benchmark from Unit4 and some data on the accountancy profession.

Professional Services – A benchmark for 2023

An interesting report commissioned by Unit4 (the SaaS ERP provider) looks at trends in the professional services market (PSM) across Europe and the US. Selected highlights include:

  • Growth in contract size: Architecture & engineering firms (49%) and management consultancies (48%) are the most confident about an increase in average contract value of at least 5%
  • Priority to launch new products and services: More than half of architecture and engineering firms (56%) and 49% of financial services firms view the launch of new offerings as a primary driver for growth in 2023. In contrast, the top priority for all professional services organizations in the UK is selling more to existing customers (52%)
  • Headcount expansion: Management consultancies and IT services firms are the most aggressive with 32% and 29% respectively expecting to grow their headcount by more than 5% in the coming year. In the UK across all professional services sectors, 23% said they expect strong or very strong growth in workforce expansion
  • Management consultants struggle with workforce attrition: The problem is most acute in the management consulting sector, where 16% of firms reported attrition of more than 30% in their most recent fiscal year

Unit4 | Professional services benchmark study for 2023 for the fill report or 8 out of 10 professional services firms expect growth in 2023 ( for a summary article

Trends in the Accountancy Profession

The FRC (Financial Reporting Council) 20th edition collates information from six accountancy bodies in the UK and includes Republic of Ireland figures.

  • Membership of accountancy bodies continues to grow – Seven bodies have 390,000 members in the UK and over 590,000 worldwide. 2.1% growth in UK and 2.8% worldwide
  • 162,00 students in UK and Republic of Ireland and 597,000 worldwide. This is low growth – .3% in UK and 1.6% worldwide
  • The number of audit firms continues to decline (4,745 from 5,007 in December 2020)
  • Consistent annual increase in income from all members for ICAEW
  • ACCA had the highest income of all bodies at £233m in 2021

FRC Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession_August 2022)

Impact of AI on market research

A Marketing Week article considers AI has the power to change B2B market research forever (

It provides an example of how ChatGPT supported a B2B brand positioning with 32 answers why buyers might purchase a CRM. And then used ChatGPT to design a survey.

Another example looks at DBAs (Distinctive Brand Assets) or brand codes according to Professor Ritson. They used the Dall-E system to generate a Guiness ad for the LinkedIn mobile app – and the images produced showed it had three distinctive assets (harp, font and B&W colour combination).

The authors (heads of research and development at the B2B Institute (a think tank at LinkedIn) argue that AI will expand the market for marketers and market researchers. Everyone needs to understand their customers at scale.