Today, as U.S. taxpayers scramble to file their 1040s, we release our 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 9,000 accounting professionals. The survey, administered this past winter, asked accountants of all levels to assess their peer firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on prestige. We also asked accountants to rate their own firms in numerous "quality of life" categories: culture, compensation, benefits, training, work/life balance, work hours, diversity, and many others.
To calculate the Accounting 50, we use a weighted formula that combines a firm's prestige score with several quality of life scores to create an overall "best to work for" ranking. We also compile separate rankings in Prestige, Quality of Life, Diversity, and Practice Area.
This year, perhaps just as interesting as which firms moved up and which moved down the rankings (and there were some surprises), was the fact that workplace category scores went way up this year nearly across the board, signifying that life as an accounting professional is getting a lot better.
In fact, the Big Four accounting firms saw their raw scores rise in every single workplace category this year. In addition, non-Big Four firms saw score improvements this year versus last in all but five workplace categories (and the drops in scores in these categories were small: less than 1/10 of a point).
As for how Big Four scores fared versus those of non-Big Four firms, this year the Big Four scored 10% higher in formal training, 7% higher in informal training, 10% higher in overall diversity, and 13% higher in minority diversity. However, the Big Four scored 10% lower in work hours vs. non-Big Four firms and 5% lower in work/life balance. In all other workplace categories, the Big Four and non-Big Four firms put up nearly identical scores.
In any case, without further ado, here are this year’s biggest winners: the top 10 firms of the 2017 Vault Accounting 50.
Charlotte, N.C.-headquartered Dixon Hughes has a "strong regional presence," say accountants at competitor firms. It also has a "strong culture," "great people," and offers "a great learning experience." Meanwhile, Dixon Hughes staff rave about the "good work/life balance," "flexible work arrangements," and "generous health benefits." They also say, "People here are genuinely great to be around. They're some of the nicest people you'll ever meet." Prestige Ranking: #15. Key Quality of Life Ranking: #5 in Work/Life Balance.
Chicago-based Baker Tilly is considered to be a “highly technical, good Midwestern firm,” according to accountants outside the firm. Baker Tilly insiders, meanwhile, call their coworkers "wonderful to work with," and say the best things about working for the firm are the "growth, learning, and advancement opportunities," "work/life balance," and "schedule flexibility." Prestige Ranking: #9. Key Quality of Life Ranking: #4 in Benefits.
Chicago-headquartered RSM (formerly McGladrey) is a "pretty prestigious," "competent international firm," according to peer accountants. As for RSM's staff, they say the best aspects of working for the firm are "the culture and people," "the constant opportunities to learn and grow," and the fact that "partners recognize high performance and acknowledge valuable employees." Prestige Ranking: #7. Key Quality of Life Ranking: #11 in Formal Training.
Michigan-based Plante Moran, which placed No. 1 in more workplace categories than any other firm for the second straight year, is considered by peer accountants to be a "strong leader" with "good people" and a "good reputation." Plante Moran insiders, meanwhile, rave about the firm's culture and "incredible" people, saying that "everyone genuinely cares about the firm, the clients, and each other." In addition, the firm "does an excellent job promoting work/life balance." Prestige Ranking: #13. Key Quality of Life Ranking: #1 in Culture.
Chicago-based BDO USA is a "large firm with a national presence" known for its "high caliber professionalism," according to its peers. The firm's staff say they're treated to "great employee benefits and competitive compensation." BDO accountants also say their firm is filled with "great people," has a "culture of putting people first," and offers a good "work/life balance" as well as "schedule flexibility." Prestige Ranking: #6. Key Quality of Life Ranking: #10 in Benefits.
Although it slipped one place to No. 5 this year, KPMG is still considered to be a "great," "very prestigious" firm with a "large international presence." This Big Four firm's insiders rave about "the great people and family-like culture," "incredible opportunities for professional growth and advancement," "extensive formal training," and "challenging work." KPMG staff also say their firm is a "great place to work for women"; it "takes diversity and corporate social responsibility very seriously." Prestige Ranking: #4. Key Quality of Life Ranking:#2 in Formal Training.
Leaping over KPMG into the top four of the Accounting 50 this year, Chicago-based Grant Thornton is considered to be a "great firm" with a "great culture" and a "large international presence." Insiders love that although it's big company, GT "has the culture of a small firm." Staff also appreciate the "schedule flexibility and significant push to foster work/life balance," "working with great people and great clients," and "the many opportunities to move up in the firm." Prestige Ranking: #5. Key Quality of Life Ranking: #1 in Promotion Policies.
NYC-based EY is known by peer accountants to be a "very prestigious" firm with "great people," "lots of perks," and "good salaries." As for EY's staff, they say the best parts about working at the firm are "the outstanding culture," "challenging and enjoyable work," and "incredible exposure to well known clients and high performing executives." Prestige Ranking: #3. Key Quality of Life Ranking: #3 in Client Interaction.
Rising one notch in the Accounting 50 this year, New York-based Deloitte is considered by its peers to be a "great firm" with an "ambitious" staff; some even say it's "the best accounting firm reputation-wise." As for Deloitte's insiders, they appreciate "working with highly motivated and competent people," "a culture focused on teaching and teamwork," and "rapid learning and growth opportunities." Prestige Ranking: #2. Key Quality of Life Ranking: #1 in Formal Training.
New York-headquartered PwC took the top spot in the Accounting 50 for the fourth straight year. It also ranked No. 1 in Prestige for an impressive eighth year in a row. So it's no surprise that accountants at competitor firms call PwC "the best of the best." Meanwhile, PwC insiders rave about the "challenging and rewarding work with high profile clients," and their "talented," "helpful," "highly intelligent" coworkers "who care about one another." PwC staff also love the "great training, learning, and promotion opportunities," "six weeks of paid paternity leave," "great healthcare and retirement benefits," "significant salary increases each year," "ability to work from home," and "amount of vacation and holidays." Prestige Ranking: #1. Key Quality of Life Ranking: #1 in Benefits.