Median A/E firm operating profit margins on net revenue (before incentive/bonus payments and taxes) have been on a steady rise in recent years, reaching a six-year high of 14.3% this year, according to business consulting firm PSMJ Resources’ 2015 A/E Financial Performance Benchmark Survey Report.
After posting all-time highs in 2007 and remaining stable in 2008, profit margins started to decline significantly beginning in 2009, due to the severe downturn in the economy. But, median profit margins on net revenue have been on the upswing in the past three years, hitting 11.4% and 13.0% in the 2013 and 2014 surveys, respectively—which, along with the 2015 data, supports the notion that backlogs are filling back up.
“It is certainly encouraging to see profit margins trending upward. But, there is another side to this coin. Just because the median has reached 14.3%, that doesn’t mean it should be an acceptable profit margin at all for an A/E firm,” says Frank A. Stasiowski, FAIA, Founder and CEO of PSMJ Resources. “There are plenty of A/E firms that can and do deliver profit margins far higher than this. These are the firm leaders who are able to really think differently—about project delivery, about marketing strategy, about value. Deliver a higher value and you can command higher fees…and yield higher profits.”
With data from 328 A/E firms across the United States and Canada, the 2015 PSMJ A/E Financial Performance Benchmark Survey Report is the go-to industry resource for firms wanting to increase cash flow, lower overhead, and improve overall financial results. Now in its 35th edition, the comprehensive report provides the most valuable research and insight available for making critical decisions that impact the success of a firm.