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Last week we released our new Accounting 50, a ranking of the best accounting firms to work for. The rankings were based on our annual Accounting Survey, the most recent of which surveyed more than 8,800 accounting professionals, asking them about life at their firms (they were asked to rate their firms in categories like hours, work/life balance, compensation, training, and more). Of those surveyed, approximately half (around 4,000) work for one of the Big 4 professional services firms (Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC). And when we asked accounting professionals at these firms to tell us which are the best benefits their firms offer, these are the five offerings that were rated the highest.
1. Vacation time
It's perhaps fitting that vacation time was rated the best benefit by Big 4 professionals, seeing as how professionals at these firms work a lot of hours, especially during tax season, which is typically defined as the four months prior to the mid-April tax-filing deadline. Big 4 firms obviously know they're working their staff hard, and so do a good job of offering plenty of vacation time for their hardworking (some would say "overworked") staff. Most young Big 4 professionals start out with five weeks of paid time off, which is well above the average for entry-level employees nationwide.
Here's a Deloitte insider talking about the firm's PTO offerings: “Deloitte makes a great effort to show support of well-being and vacation time. We receive a well-being subsidy to encourage a healthy lifestyle. We also receive a significant amount of vacation time, plenty more than an average entry-level corporate job."
2. Flexible hours
The ability to get your work done where you want and when you want is extremely important to those working at the Big 4. Hundreds of Big 4 professionals stressed this point when answering various questions in our survey. These days, given that a significant amount of work can easily be completed remotely, Big 4 firms are increasingly allowing their employees to take advantage of this benefit. And employees are extremely appreciative, especially those with family commitments.
Here's a PwC staffer on the flex-time benefit: "Busy season is busy, and a lot of hours are spent working. However, once busy season is over, the work/life balance is awesome. The firm is very flexible about working from home and offers other perks that compensate for the long hours during busy season.”
3. Casual dress policy
Perhaps somewhat surprising, the ability to not have to sport a suit and tie all day, every day, was ranked very highly by Big 4 professionals. This could be the result of professionals placing an importance on being comfortable while putting in 12-hour days during tax season. Whatever the case might be, accountants, it seems, aren't as buttoned up as you might think.
Here's a PwC insider on dressing down: "Casual dress at the office is great. I just wish it carried over to the client site."
4. 401(k) matching
Big 4 accountants are very appreciative of their firms' policies when it comes to helping them build wealth. And there's perhaps nothing that helps build an employee's wealth more than a healthy 401(k) match. While some firms, both big and small, might not think employees care one way or another about this benefit, Big 4 firms understand its importance. And Big 4 employees certainly understand it (and take notice of it) as well.
Here's a KPMG insider on this offering: “KPMG offers competitive salaries, great benefits, and a number of perks. What stands out most to me is that the firm matches employees' 401(k) contributions and also provides pension benefits."
5. Maternity/paternity leave policy
It's well known that the Big 4 offer some of the most generous maternity and paternity leave policies in the United States. And so, while the U.S. in general still has a long way to go to compete with many countries in Western and Eastern Europe when it comes to maternity and paternity leave policies, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better industry to join in the U.S. than public accounting, if spending time with your newborn or newly adopted children is among the most important employee benefits to you.
Here's a KPMG staffer speaking about this benefit at the firm: “The best perk is the maternity/paternity leave policy—full pay after childbirth during the leave period compared to reduced pay in the past."
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