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by Derek Loosvelt | September 29, 2011


In Vault’s latest Accounting Survey, administered this past spring to more than 2,300 accounting professionals, in addition to prestige, insiders were asked to rank their own firms in a variety of quality of life categories, including compensation, hours, firm culture, overall job satisfaction, diversity, and business outlook.

And this year, unlike last year, when one firm dominated the rankings, several firms shared the wealth at the top.

Elliot Davis, based in Greenville, S.C., took the top spot in four categories (manager relations, formal training, informal training, and office space). Princeton, N.J.-headquartered WithumSmith+Brown topped three categories (overall satisfaction, firm culture, and business outlook). Big Four firm Deloitte also ranked No. 1 in three categories (diversity with respect to minorities, diversity with respect to GLBT individuals, and overall diversity). Cleveland’s SS&G was the top-ranked firm in two categories (compensation and diversity with respect to women). And taking home one top ranking each were PricewaterhouseCoopers (selectivity), Armanino McKenna (hours), and Rothstein Kass (green practices).

Below are the top-ranked firms in each quality of life category (along with a quote from one their professionals):

Overall satisfaction: WithumSmith+Brown (“I’ve been with four CPA Firms, and the culture, caring, and professionalism at Withum is by far the best of the bunch. It truly is a great place to work.”)

Firm culture: WithumSmith+Brown (“The firm really believes in creating a solid work environment for the employees. It’s more of a laid-back atmosphere while still remaining professional and focused. I believe this helps create efficient and effective work.”)

Hours: Armanino McKenna (“Armanino is very flexible regarding hours. As long as you get your work done, you can take personal time as needed. Some days I leave early to be with my family and make up the time on the weekend or by working a bit longer another day.”)

Manager Relations: Elliott Davis (“The relationship between management and juniors is great. That’s the aspect I love the most about Elliott Davis. Our shareholders will stop by our offices and joke around all the time. They never seem to show their power and push anyone around.”)

Formal Training: Elliott Davis (“We constantly look to improve our technical and professional careers. We have scheduled training for different levels. We provide in house and external training. We try to cover topics that are pertinent to our profession. We have formal coaching and mentoring programs to help develop our people.”)

Informal Training: Elliott Davis (“People are always willing to sit down and show or explain how to do something.”)

Office Space: Elliott Davis (“Very nice first-class office space in a very prominent and convenient area of Charleston.”)

Compensation: SS&G Financial Services (“I am compensated very well for what I do.”)

Selectivity: PricewaterhouseCoopers (“In my opinion, the interview and callback process is very effective. The HR departments keep candidates updated on interview dates and times, and any changes on those. They are with you through the entire process and keep you informed of any updates on the interview results. The ideal candidate my firm is seeking is a responsible, straight-forward, hard working, and outgoing individual.”

Green initiatives: Rothstein, Kass & Company (“The firm is striving to develop more environmentally friendly policies and is implementing new initiatives fairly often, such as recycling drives for different materials like magazines, batteries, and electronic devices. Often the firm couples these initiatives with contests that offer prizes to the winner.”)

Overall business outlook: WithumSmith+Brown (“Company morale is high, as employees are excited to work for the firm and passionate about their work. Reports from management concerning competition seem to be positive, and the company is constantly gaining new clients.”)

Overall diversity: Deloitte (“Deloitte fosters an extremely diverse community with many internal groups, outreach programs, as well as other types of support.”)

Diversity—Women: SS&G Financial Services (“About one-third of the director group is women, which is amazing compared to where I've worked in the past and other firms I know about. Everyone is treated equally here.”

Diversity—Minorities: Deloitte (“Deloitte seems to definitely go out of its way to hire a diverse mix of employees, including women and minorities. Additionally, promotion is not affected by race or gender. And they offer great benefits when it comes to maternity leave.”)

Diversity—GLBT: Deloitte (“I’m a gay employee, and everyone I’ve dealt with has been completely accepting. The environment today at Deloitte is what we dreamed of 15 to 20 years ago.”)

View the Complete 2012 Accounting Quality of Life and Diversity Rankings.


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