50 Best Accounting Firms for 2021

Published: Apr 14, 2020

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Today, we release our annual Accounting 50, a ranking of the best accounting firms to work for. This year, the rankings are based on a survey of more than 10,000 accounting professionals, who were asked to rate their own firms in various workplace categories such as culture, compensation, hours, and work/life balance. They were also asked to rate their peer firms in terms of prestige. The Accounting 50 is compiled using a weighted formula based on these internal and external ratings.

The Top 10 firms in the 2021 Vault Accounting 50 are: 

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

No. 1 PwC is the “clear-cut global leader in knowledge and technology”

For the eighth year in a row, PwC ranks as the No. 1 firm in the Accounting 50. It also ranks No. 1 in Prestige, No 1. in all three Practice Areas (Audit & Assurance, Tax, and Forensic Accounting), and No. 2 in three Diversity Categories: Overall Diversity, Minority Diversity, and LGBTQ Diversity.

Accountants at peer firms tell us that PwC is the “most prestigious Big 4,” “innovative and impressive,” and the “clear-cut global leader in knowledge and technology.” Meanwhile, PwC insiders very much appreciate “working with very intelligent, ambitious, talented coworkers—the caliber of people at PwC is unsurpassed in the industry.” They also rave about the schedule flexibility and work/life balance, and told us they get to work with “great clients” and are treated to “a lot of training and growth opportunities.” At PwC, "you work with the best companies in the world.”

No. 2 Deloitte is an “established, excellent, trustworthy Firm”

Deloitte again ranks No. 2 in both the Accounting 50 and Prestige, and takes the No. 2 spot in the all-important Formal Training category. This year, accountants at peer firms tell us that Deloitte is the “global leader in audit and consulting,” “established and improving,” and an “excellent, trustworthy firm.” Meanwhile, Deloitte staff members rave about the “great culture and talented, brilliant people”— “there are so many opportunities to learn from some of the best in the industry.” They also praise the “work schedule flexibility” and “growth opportunities”—staff are “exposed to the largest and most complex clients, markets, and issues.”

No. 3 KPMG is a “great place to start a career”

As for KPMG, which ranks No. 3 in the Accounting 50 and No. 4 in Prestige, peers tell us it’s a “prestigious and exceptional firm,” “a great place to start a career,” and “reinventing itself.” KPMG insiders rave about the “amazing culture and exceptionally intelligent and motivated people.” They also praise the “flexibility outside of busy season,” and say the “learning, training, and growth opportunities are unbeatable,” underscoring the firm’s No. 1 ranking in Formal Training.

No. 4 BDO USA is an "elite mid-sized firm" with "great partners"

BDO USA rises one place in the Accounting 50 this year to take the No. 4 spot. Peer accountants tell us that BDO is an “elite mid-sized firm,” with “great partners” and “almost Big 4 prestige.” Meanwhile, BDO insiders say the firm has a “great culture and great people,” who are “very supportive of each other and want to see each other succeed.” In addition, BDO staff rave about the “schedule flexibility,” and “training, learning, and advancement opportunities.”

No. 5 Plante & Moran and No.11 Schellman are best for Quality of Life

Michigan-based Plante Moran jumps three places to take the No. 5 spot in the Accounting 50, thanks to its strong showing in the Quality of Life Rankings. The firm ranks No. 1 in Business Outlook, Hours, Travel Requirements, Vacation Policies, and Work/Life Balance, and No. 2 in Benefits, Client Interaction, Culture, Informal Training, Promotion Policies, and Overall Satisfaction. Peer accountants say Plante Moran is a “very good technical firm,” with a “great culture.” The firm’s staff tell us that Plante Moran has an “amazing culture and great coworkers”— “everyone is willing to help you out.”

A newcomer to our survey and rankings this year, Florida-based Schellman & Co., which ranks No. 11 in the Accounting 50, is another big winner in our Quality of Life Rankings. Schellman ranks No. 1 in Benefits, Client Interaction, Compensation, Culture, Firm Leadership, Hiring Process, Internal Mobility, Relationships with Supervisors, and Overall Satisfaction, and No. 2 in Business Outlook and CSR Initiatives. It also sweeps the Diversity Rankings, ranking No. 1 in Overall Diversity, Female Diversity, Minority Diversity, and LGBTQ Diversity. Schellman insiders tell us that the firm has a “team-oriented culture,” with “smart, motivated, friendly coworkers.” Among the best aspects of working for the firm are the “compensation and benefits,” and “training and client engagement opportunities.”

The new Vault Accounting 50 Rankings, Accounting Prestige Rankings, Accounting Quality of Life Rankings, Accounting Diversity Rankings, and Accounting Practice Area Rankings are now all live.