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by Derek Loosvelt | April 15, 2021


Today, we release our annual Accounting 50, a ranking of the best accounting firms to work for. The ranking is based on a survey of approximately 11,400 accounting professionals, who were asked to rate their firms in several workplace categories, including business outlook, compensation, culture, hours, training, overall satisfaction, and work/life balance. They were also asked to rate firms other than their own in terms of prestige. The Accounting 50 is compiled using a weighted formula based on these internal and external rankings.

Here are the top 10 firms in the new Vault Accounting 50:

1. PwC
2. Deloitte
5. Plante Moran
6. RSM
7. Baker Tilly
8. Moss Adams
9. CohnReznick

No. 1 PwC Is “Everyone’s Dream Job”

PwC ranks No. 1 in the Accounting 50 for the ninth straight year. Accountants at peer firms tell us that the Big 4 firm is “prestigious” and “powerful”—a position with PwC is “everyone’s dream job.” PwC also ranks No. 1 in our Prestige Rankings, No. 1 in all three Practice Area Rankings (Audit & Assurance, Tax, and Forensic Accounting), No. 1 in Formal Training, No. 2 in Informal Training, and No. 2 in Overall Diversity, Racial & Ethnic Diversity, and LGBTQ+ Diversity.

This year, PwC insiders tell us that they very much appreciate working alongside “brilliant, dedicated, hardworking people” in a “great, collaborative culture.” They also appreciate the “schedule flexibility,” “continuous learning and growth opportunities,” and “interesting, challenging, high-quality work." 

No. 2 Deloitte Is Filled with “Diligent, Hardworking, Smart” Professionals

Accountants at peer firms tell us that Deloitte—which ranks No. 2 in the Accounting 50, No. 2 in Prestige, and No. 2 in all three Practice Areas—is the “best of the best,” the “gold standard for big clients,” and filled with “diligent, hardworking, smart” professionals. Meanwhile, Deloitte staff members rave about the “wonderful and supportive people,” the “amazing culture,” “working with the best clients in a variety of industries,” and being “continually challenged to learn and grow.”

No. 3 KPMG Offers “Endless Development Opportunities”

KPMG again ranks No. 3 in the Accounting 50 and No. 4 in Prestige. This year, peer accountants tell us that KPMG is “very prestigious” and a “great firm” with a “friendly culture.” KPMG insiders rave about their “best and brightest colleagues,” “world-class clients,” “flexibility of hours,” and “endless development opportunities.”

No. 12 Schellman Is Best for Quality of Life and Diversity

In its second year in our rankings, Florida-based Schellman & Co., which ranks No. 12 in the Accounting 50, is the big winner in our Quality of Life Rankings. Schellman ranks No. 1 in Benefits, Business Outlook, Compensation, ESG Initiatives, Culture, Firm Leadership, Hours, Internal Mobility, Promotion Policies, Relationships with Supervisors, and Overall Satisfaction. It also sweeps our Diversity Rankings, ranking No. 1 in Overall Diversity, Diversity for Women, Racial & Ethnic Diversity, and LGBTQ+ Diversity.

Schellman insiders tell us that the firm has a “very family-friendly and family-oriented culture,” with “quality people.” Among the best aspects of working for the firm are the “great compensation and benefits,” “challenging work,” and “great clients.”

Accountants Comment on Their Firms’ Responses to Covid-19 and the BLM Movement

In a year of unprecedented change, we added two open-ended questions to our Accounting Survey: one asking accounting professionals to comment on their firms’ responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, and another asking professionals to comment on their firms’ responses to the anti-racist protests and Black Lives Matter movement. Our new profiles of accounting firms that took our survey include direct quotes about these firms' responses to these issues.

Also, among our survey findings, 62 percent of accounting professionals told us they’ve found remote work to be more effective than they previously thought (before the pandemic), and 76 percent of professionals hope to work remotely more often post-pandemic than they did pre-pandemic.

In addition, on a scale of 1 to 10, from not important at all to extremely important, when we asked professionals to rate the importance of their firms publicly supporting diversity and inclusion, 48 percent rated the importance a 10 out of 10. Not surprisingly, many people of color, as well as women, nonbinary individuals, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities rated the importance highly. And even though the highest ratings came from more recent graduates, accounting firm partners also gave relatively high ratings, suggesting that firm management recognizes the importance of this issue as well.

Quality of Life, Diversity, and Practice Area Rankings Winners

Benefits: Schellman & Co.

Business Outlook: Schellman & Co.

Client Interaction: Plante Moran

Compensation: Schellman & Co.

CSR Initiatives: Schellman & Co.        

Culture: Schellman & Co.

Diversity (Overall): Schellman & Co.

Diversity (Racial & Ethnic): Schellman & Co.

Diversity (Women): Schellman & Co.

Diversity (LGBTQ+): Schellman & Co.

Firm Leadership: Schellman & Co.

Formal Training: PwC

Hiring Process: PwC

Hours: Schellman & Co.

Informal Training: Frank, Rimerman + Co.

Internal Mobility: Schellman & Co.

Practice Area (Audit & Assurance): PwC

Practice Area (Forensic Accounting: PwC

Practice Area (Tax): PwC

Promotion Policies: Schellman & Co.

Relationships with Supervisors: Schellman & Co.

Satisfaction: Schellman & Co.

Travel Requirements: Brown Smith Wallace

Vacation Policies: Plante Moran

Wellness: Aprio

Work/Life Balance: Brown Smith Wallace/Plante Moran (tie)

View the entire Accounting 50 Ranking, Accounting Prestige Ranking, Accounting Quality of Life Rankings, Accounting Diversity Rankings, and Accounting Practice Area Rankings.