Today, we released our annual Vault Accounting 50, a ranking of the best accounting firms to work for. This year, the results were based on a survey of 8,600 accountants, and there were several key developments in the rankings.
While PwC maintained its stranglehold atop the rankings, taking the No. 1 spot again this year, fellow Big 4 firm Deloitte closed the gap between No. 1 and No. 2, inching closer to the top spot. And KPMG jumped one spot to No. 4, knocking Chicago-based Grant Thornton back to No. 5. In addition, Seattle-headquartered Moss Adams leaped three spots to No. 8, moving back into the top 10.
Here are the 10 Best Accounting Firms to Work For according to Vault’s 2017 Accounting Survey:
Accountants at peer firms told us this year that PwC is “the gold standard,” “the best brand of the Big 4,” and “a great place to start your career—with lots of training.” Meanwhile, PwC insiders raved about the “tremendous support and very helpful advice from senior managers and partners,” “the incredibly helpful coaching system,” “the great company culture that’s built around very smart and motivated people,” “the endless learning opportunities,” the ability to “work with large clients on complex issues and get a ton of responsibility at an early age,” and the “flexible hours and ability to work from home.”
PwC’s ranking atop the Accounting 50 means it’s still widely considered the best accounting firm to work for. In fact, this was the fifth straight year that PwC took the top spot in the Accounting 50. PwC also again ranked No. 1 in our Prestige Rankings.
However, Deloitte, the No. 2 firm in the Accounting 50 and the No. 2 firm in our Prestige Rankings, is gaining ground. This year, in the Accounting 50, there was only a 2 percent score differential separating PwC and Deloitte, while last year that gap was 4 percent. And in the Prestige Rankings, there was just a 1.4 percent score differential this year separating the two, versus a 3 percent difference last year. This means that PwC and Deloitte are just about neck and neck when it comes to offering the best place for young accountants to begin their careers.
This year, accountants at peer firms told us that Deloitte is a “very strong global firm with smart, good people,” and it has “spectacular perks and a spectacular reputation.” Here’s one Deloitte insider talking about the career development opportunities at the firm (Deloitte again ranked No. 1 in the Formal Training category): “Deloitte ensures that its professionals are developed through formal and informal training programs, client opportunities, and leadership roles. Deloitte’s partners are very supportive of any learning and development programs or initiatives. Managers are good about finding the right opportunities for staff and seniors, and they try to give the professionals diverse career experiences to build their knowledge base.”
Also impressive was KPMG’s rise to No. 4 this year. Last year, KPMG fell one place to No. 5, but this year the firm regained its place among the top four. Helping it rise a spot, KPMG ranked No. 2 in Formal Training, only trailing Deloitte, and KPMG ranked better than all other Big 4 firms in Promotion Policies. Here’s a KPMG insider speaking about the firm’s excellent career development opportunities: “KPMG provides a great foundation for your career. From giving you the opportunity to lead an engagement early on to letting you be hands-on when it comes to complex areas of accounting, KPMG does a great job in developing new hires and employees at all levels. Everyone in my office is super friendly and supportive and willing to help and explain things whenever necessary.”
In another major move in the rankings, Moss Adams rose three spots to No. 8. Moss Adams put up strong showings in the Benefits category (ranking No. 1 overall) and the Compensation category (No. 3). According to one Moss Adams professional, “The overall compensation package is very generous: free public transportation, free food and drink, great health benefits, 401(k) match, maternity and paternity leave, and the list continues.”
Even though the Big 4 firms ranked highly in the Formal Training category, the mid-sized firms were the big winners in our other Quality of Life Rankings. Michigan-based Plante Moran ranked No. 1 in 11 categories, including Culture, Overall Satisfaction, Informal Training, Business Outlook, and Firm Leadership. Meanwhile, New York City-based Friedman ranked No. 1 in Hours, Work/Life Balance, and Relationships with Supervisors. And San Francisco-based BPM ranked No. 1 in Overall Diversity, Minority Diversity, and LGBT Diversity.
As we say farewell to our spring interns and plan for our summer interns, I think back to the time when I was in their shoes. Nearing the end of college and in the process of figuring out my career path, I had no idea I would one day be a partner in an accounting firm; I never imagined that as a long-term goal.
For many of today’s law students, firm culture, location, and practice area remain the most important factors in deciding where to apply. Recently, students have discovered that evaluating these factors — and making the right choice for their legal career — is easier when opting to apply directly to firms for summer positions.