The RIBA has found that many UK practices rely too heavily on a single sector, or even a single client, putting them at risk should work in that sector suddenly dry up. These statistics are among the findings of the RIBA's annual Business Benchmarking Survey, the only mandatory survey of all chartered practices in the UK.
The benchmarking survey estimates that a maximum of 40% of a practice's income can safely come from a single sector, but it found that 60% of practices with 20-50 staff and 54% of practices with over 50 staff failed to meet this rule of thumb. Furthermore the survey found that 90% of practices with fewer than 20 staff relied on just a single client for over 40% of their income.
Read on after the break for more results of the RIBA Business Benchmarking Survey
The report's author Caroline Cole pointed to the sudden drop in commercial work in the early 1990s as an example of why this problem is relevant, when "big practices that were purely reliant on the commercial sector had to reduce from hundreds to tens of staff." She added "if you put all your eggs in one basket you are potentially looking for trouble."
The survey also found that almost two thirds of practices do not have a business plan, which may explain why so many unthinkingly put themselves at risk by relying on only one sector.
Other findings in the survey:
- Women in architecture are under-represented at the top level; while half of architectural assistants are women, only 13% of directors are.
- An average salary for a mid-level architect is £34,000.
- There is no correlation between the amount of work won by a practice and the practice's profitability, as winning work usually requires a larger amount of unpaid work.
- 20% of practices are currently working overseas, with the Middle-East the most profitable region.
Story via BD Online