It’s business as usual for the AJ100 - let’s hope that means recovery is just around the corner, says Christine Murray
More from: In pictures: The AJ100 Awards 2013
Every year we ask the biggest practices in Britain to complete a comprehensive survey covering everything from the level of architecture fees to the number of women they employ.
In exchange for filling out the survey, practices that make the top 100 are entered into the AJ100 awards and rankings, and are invited to a number of free exclusive events, from the popular AJ100 Breakfast Club briefings at Claridge’s in London, to annual luncheons in Glasgow and Manchester.
Last year, guests to these intimate events had the opportunity to mingle with the AJ editorial team and meet a number of high-profile speakers, from Daniel Moylan, aviation adviser to London Mayor Boris Johnson, who spoke about the plethora of London airport proposals, to Richard Mawdsley, development manager at Peel, who discussed opportunities at the £4.5 billion Wirral Waters scheme in Liverpool.
With the results of the survey, AJ special projects editor Emily Booth, working with Bruce Tether, professor of Innovation Management and Strategy at Manchester Business School, have created this year’s report, providing an in-depth snapshot of the profession over the past year.
Every member of the AJ team has pitched in to write the bumper print issue, website and iPad editions. Although its production is a challenge for this busy weekly, it is worth it: the mix of qualitative and quantitative data allows us to represent change over time and paint an evolving picture of life for the nearly 26,000 people employed by the AJ100 in the UK.
This year’s story is, as Tether puts it in his report (see pages 124-145), ‘one of little change, at least on aggregate, while beneath the surface there is more turbulence in terms of individual firms faring better or worse.’
From salaries to fees, there is very little change - which suggests we are bumping along the bottom of the current depressed trading cycle.
Some of the more pronounced moves up and down the AJ100 rankings are due more to a change in how we ranked the number of architects employed, than any significant shift.
For the first time, we’ve focused on ARB-registered architects in the UK, as we feel this is a more quantifiable snapshot of UK working architects. Our special thanks go to Rob Guy for his help with this.
Whether you work for a big firm or small, you can use the information in this report to benchmark your practice. Compare your pay to the AJ100 salary guide (page 128), compare your fees with the AJ100 fee scale (page 126) or calculate your fee income per architecture staff by taking your total architecture fees divided by total architecture staff (see pages 136‑137) - the median figure you are aiming for is about £80,000 fee income per head, although at Foster + Partners architecture staff bring in £171,000 per head.
Received wisdom is that before a turn in the economy (towards either decline or growth), there is usually a levelling. Our fingers are crossed that the stasis represented by this year’s AJ100 report means we are on the cusp of growth.
Certainly the AJ100 practices think so: looking ahead, there are fewer pessimists (down 16 per cent) and more optimists (up 13 per cent) among the top 100 than there were three years ago.
And the news that fewer AJ100 practices are lowering fees (down 7 per cent), lowering costs (down 8 per cent) and accepting lower margins (down 6 per cent) is certainly welcome.
Congratulations to all AJ100 award winners and members. Your continued success pays tribute to a vibrant and resilient profession.