Less than half of the PR sector’s top 40 met the 60 per cent employee cost threshold, which is what we recommend agencies adhere to as a healthy operating ratio.
The average spend on staff costs creeping up to 61.7 per cent. This is slightly disappointing as last year’s 60.4 per cent looked to be moving the trend back towards the pre-2011 average of sub-60 per cent.
An impressive 28 consultancies out of the top 40 have exceeded our target minimum fee income of £100,000 per head, with 16 exceeding our target of £120,000 per head.
This has resulted in an impressive average across the top 40 of £120,121 per head. The stand-out performer was Finsbury, which reported fee income of £338,881 per head.
We also compare the performance of group-owned consultancies to those that remain independent. The 25 group-owned consultancies have increased their operating margins to 14.4 per cent on average, closing the gap on the 15 independent consultancies, which have increased to 14.7 per cent.
While very similar profit margins were achieved by the two groups, the group-owned consultancies outperformed in terms of fee income per head, reporting an average of £123,353, compared to the independent consultancies’ average of £112,176. However, average staff costs per head were also higher at the group consultancies, which evened out the profit margins.
Financial PR consultancies have once again shown some stand-out headline figures, with fee income rising by 25 per cent and fee income per head increasing by 18.7 per cent to an average of £215,077. Other sub-sectors have experienced more conservative fee income increases.
Esther Carder is the head of media at Moore Kingston Smith.