Today, as taxpayers across the country scramble to file their returns, Vault releases its annual Accounting 50, a ranking of the best accounting firms to work for in North America.
This year, the rankings are based on a survey of more than 8,300 accounting professionals. The survey asked these accountants of all levels to assess their peer firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on prestige. Accountants were also asked to rate their own firm in various quality of life categories, including firm culture, compensation, overall satisfaction, training, diversity, hours, and work/life balance, among others. To calculate the Accounting 50 Ranking, Vault used a weighted formula that combines a firm’s prestige and several quality of life ratings, creating an overall “best to work for” ranking that we call the Accounting 50. Vault also compiled rankings in Prestige, Quality of Life, Diversity, and Practice Area.
Perhaps just as interesting as which firms topped the rankings this year was this positive trend: Quality of life is getting better for accountants. Survey respondents, on average, gave their overall satisfaction a rating of 8.07 out of 10, up 2.7 percent from last year. This upward trend was also notable in several other categories, including work hours (up 3.9 percent), work/life balance (up 2.1 percent), and compensation (up 1.8 percent).
And what was true for the industry at large was also true for the largest firms. As reported on a few weeks ago, Big 4 accountants who took Vault’s accounting survey this year rated their overall satisfaction 2.2 percent higher than they did last year. They also gave higher ratings this year in work hours (up 3.6 percent), culture (up 1.6 percent), work/life balance (up 1.5 percent), and compensation (up 1.4 percent).
And so, what follows are this year’s big winners: the top 10 firms of the 2016 Vault Accounting 50.
Insiders at this Chicago-based firm, which touts itself as a “unique alternative to the Big 4,” say the best parts about their jobs include the “opportunity to work with a variety of clients in a variety of industries,” “ability to take on greater levels of responsibility early on,” and “wonderful, friendly, helpful coworkers.” Meanwhile, accountants outside Crowe Horwath say the firm has “very impressive leadership and partners” and “very personable people.” Prestige Ranking: #8. Key Quality of Life/Diversity Ranking: #12 in Compensation.
Accountants across the industry call Seattle-based Moss Adams a “solid West Coast firm,” which is “well-respected, a well-known competitor, and doing many things right.” The firm’s insiders appreciate that you can “control your own career—your opportunity and advancement is what you make it.” They also appreciate the “reasonable hours” and “enjoy spending time with and greatly respect” their coworkers. Prestige Ranking: #9. Key QoL/Diversity Ranking: #7 in Overall Satisfaction.
This Michigan-based firm, which ranked No. 1 in six workplace categories this year, is considered by accountants across the industry to be “one of the best” outside the Big 4. It’s a “good, solid, well-respected” firm, and Plante Moran insiders say the best aspects about their jobs include the “firm culture,” “range of clients you're exposed to,” and “focus on career development.” Prestige Ranking: #12. Key QoL/Diversity Ranking: #1 in Firm Culture.
Chicago-headquartered McGladrey is a “strong firm for smaller clients” and has a “great work environment,” according to accountants outside the firm. As for the firm’s staff, they say McGladrey offers “flexible work hours,” “interesting and challenging work,” and “a great, team culture—people here are motivated, intelligent, and personable.” Prestige Ranking: #6. Key QoL/Diversity Ranking: #6 in Internal Mobility.
BDO USA is a “top,” “national company,” with more than 50 offices and 5,000 employees. Accountants at peer firms say it’s a “great place to be if you're not interested in the Big 4” due to the “the level of opportunity” that BDO offers. Meanwhile, BDO staff members note that the firm “is experiencing tremendous growth, which provides significant development opportunities.” They also say the “work is always challenging and interesting,” and BDO offices are filled with “great people.” Prestige Ranking: #7. Key QoL/Diversity Ranking: #5 in Overall Diversity.
The industry’s perennial No. 5, this Chicago-based accounting firm with more than 6,500 employees has an “excellent reputation” and is widely considered to be the “most prestigious outside the Big 4.” Grant Thornton insiders laud the “phenomenal client base,” the “schedule flexibility,” and their “eager to teach, well-rounded” colleagues. Prestige Ranking: #5. Key QoL/Diversity Ranking: #9 in Relationships with Supervisors.
This “high quality,” “reputable global” Big 4 firm that “everybody knows” offers its “intelligent, talented, friendly, down-to-earth” staff tons of “training and career advancement opportunities.” In addition, KPMG, which is headquartered in New York and has more than 90 additional offices across the country, offers its staff “challenging work” and a “diverse” client list. Prestige Ranking: #4. Key QoL/Diversity Ranking: #1 in Formal Training.
Accountants across the industry call this New York-based Big 4 firm an “industry leader” and a “great international” company. They also say Deloitte can be “friendlier and more compassionate” than the rest of the Big 4. Meanwhile, the firm’s staff members praise “the prestige and name brand associated with Deloitte,” “the professional growth and challenges offered at every level,” and the opportunity to work with “top-notch, highly talented, very intelligent people of diverse backgrounds and experiences.” Prestige Ranking: #3. Key QoL/Diversity Ranking: #3 in Formal Training.
This NYC-based Big 4 firm is known by accountants to be “highly professional” and to offer “a lot of opportunities” to its staff. Some accountants outside EY, which also ranked No. 2 last year, even call it the “the top dog in accounting.” As for its staff, they say the best parts about working at EY are the “challenging and enjoyable work,” “incredible exposure to well known clients and high performing executives,” and “opportunities to grow and learn daily—you are always increasing the value of your experiences and resume.” Prestige Ranking: #2. Key QoL/Diversity Ranking: #1 in Minority Diversity.
For the third year in a row, New York-headquartered PwC tops the Accounting 50. PwC also ranked No. 1 in Prestige—this year marked the seventh year in a row. Which is why accountants call the firm the “industry standard,” “powerful,” and “respected.” As for PwC staff, they say the firm is filled with “very smart people”—“in the accounting world, it’s the equivalent of going to Harvard.” They also laud the firm for the “frequency and thoroughness of training opportunities,” and for offering “flexible work hours” and a “team atmosphere”—PwC “does a great job of showing that you are appreciated.” Prestige Ranking: #1. Key QoL/Diversity Ranking: #1 in Overall Diversity.