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Biggest hitters take home half of RIBA practices’ £1.58bn income

Large UK practices took home half of the £1.58 billion earned by RIBA Chartered Practices last year

Companies employing 50 or more staff won the lion’s share of architectural services despite accounting for just three per cent of firms – according to RIBA’s benchmarking survey of chartered practices.

The survey also revealed 36 per cent of big studios’ income was drawn from overseas work, compared to 20 per cent for all chartered practices. It also showed around 40 per cent of architects were employed by large practices.

One-off houses accounted for 9 per cent of the profession’s fees with residential bringing in 25 per cent of income followed by education (15 per cent), mixed use (13 per cent) and offices (11 per cent).

At least half of the profession’s work was won by direct approach without a competition, according to the survey, with 21 jobs landed through straight fee bids.

However across the board, 62 per cent of the practices signed up to the institute’s chartered practice scheme admitted to having no business plan – and a further 13 per cent said they only planned one year in advance.

Women made up 30 per cent of chartered practices’ overall workforce, accounting for 76 per cent of non-fee earning roles and a quarter of fee earning positions.  

The survey also showed women comprised 40 per cent of architectural assistants but only 12 per cent of equity partners or shareholder directors.

RIBA president Angela Brady said: ‘One key element exposed in these latest results is the acute split in business management, profitability and specialisms of between large and small practices on how to make the most of their own position in the market place. 

She added: ‘What is clear is that if growth is on the agenda for a practice, then simply being a great designer, or a good project runner, is unlikely to be enough. Practices must identify a clear proposition to its target audiences with client-focused leadership and efficient business management – as well as great design.’

She continued: ‘The RIBA is committed to tailored support and guiding for practices of every size. One element that I remain hugely concerned about is the gender inequality that continues to pervade the profession, with a massive drop-off in equal representation as seniority rises.  We need to do much more as a galvanised profession to erase this as an issue.’

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