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by Derek Loosvelt | April 15, 2019

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Today, as taxpayers scramble to file their returns, we release our annual Accounting 50, a ranking of the best accounting firms to work for. This year, our ranking is based on a survey of more than 8,200 accountants, who were asked to rate their own firms in various quality of life categories such as culture, hours, compensation, and work/life balance. They were also asked to rate their peer firms in terms of prestige. The Accounting 50 was compiled using a weighted formula based on these internal and external ratings.

Here are the Top 10 firms in the Vault Accounting 50 based on Vault’s annual Accounting Survey: 

  1. PwC
  2. Deloitte
  3. KPMG
  4. Grant Thornton
  5. BDO USA
  6. Baker Tilly
  7. RSM
  8. Plante Moran
  9. Moss Adams
  10. Friedman

PWC still on top, Deloitte still a close second 

This year, PwC solidified its position as the No. 1 accounting firm to work for. The firm held its spot atop our Accounting 50 for the seventh year in a row. It also again ranked No. 1 in our Prestige Rankings and improved its standing in most of our Quality of Life Rankings. PwC rose five places in Overall Satisfaction, four places in Culture, three places in Hours, and one place in Work/Life Balance. It also rose three places in Business Outlook to take the No. 1 spot, perhaps underlining the lead PwC is taking as public accounting firms become more reliant on technology to improve their bottom lines. Recently, PwC has begun to train much of its staff in areas such as AI and data analytics.

That said, it was Deloitte that took home the No. 1 ranking in Formal Training this year, leaping from the No. 3 spot last year. And Deloitte, a much larger firm than PwC when it comes to annual revenues, was a very close second in both the Accounting 50 and our Prestige Rankings.

What accountants say about the top 3 firms

Accountants at peer firms tell us that PwC is the “global leader,” and has a “strong technical and audit skill set,” “many high-profile clients,” and “awesome benefits.” Meanwhile, PwC insiders very much appreciate the “excellent opportunities for professional growth,” “flexible work schedules,” and “the people and culture”—especially the ability to “work collaboratively with caring, driven, intelligent, motivated colleagues to solve important problems.” 

This year, accountants at peer firms tell us that Deloitte is “large and powerful,” “a great brand,” and “very prestigious.” Meanwhile, Deloitte staff members rave about the “unmatched opportunity to learn and progress,” “working with top clients on complex issues,” “the best benefits in the industry,” and working with “highly intelligent colleagues in a supportive, professional environment.” 

As for KPMG, it’s also “very prestigious,” according to peer accountants, who add that KPMG offers “great international opportunities” and is filled with “good people.” Insiders at KPMG praise the “early exposure to high-ranking client contacts and complex accounting issues,” “great people and culture,” and “new experiences everyday.”

Big 4 firms are best for diversity

This year, Big 4 firm KPMG wins three out of four of our Diversity Rankings, impressively ranking No. 1 in Overall Diversity, Diversity for Women, and LGBT Diversity, while fellow Big 4 firm PwC takes the top spot in Minority Diversity. Here’s what one KPMG insider tells us about a new firm initiative: “KPMG has begun a ‘Day of Understanding’ campaign, where positive discussions are held about diversity. This is done in an effort to promote communication and openness, so no topic is considered taboo or off-limits. They want us to feel like a collective group and to embrace our diversity instead of hide it. It's a great campaign, and I think it's working.” 

Mid-sized Friedman is the best for quality of life

New York City-based Friedman is the big winner in our Quality of Life Rankings. Friedman cracks the top 10 in the Accounting 50 this year, and ranks No. 1 in Culture, Hours, Overall Satisfaction, Relationships with Supervisors, Travel Requirements, and Work/Life Balance. Friedman insiders tell us that they very much appreciate “getting Fridays off the entire summer and the option to work remotely from home.” They also say that “people here care about your success at work and treat you with respect, not just like another number,” and that “you won’t be able to find another accounting firm that gives you a better work/life balance.”

The Vault Accounting 50 Rankings, Accounting Prestige Rankings, and Accounting Quality of Life Rankings can all be found here.

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