50 Best Accounting Firms to Work For

Published: Apr 16, 2012

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Vault has been releasing rankings of the top accounting firms in North America for nearly a decade. When Vault initially began ranking accounting firms, we only ranked firms in terms of prestige—that is, in terms of a firm’s reputation as perceived by professionals at other accounting firms. Later, we increased our ranking offerings to include “quality of life” categories such as firm culture, compensation, diversity, training, hours, and job satisfaction. In these categories, firms were rated by their own professionals, as opposed to professionals at competitors.

In the past, Vault’s main accounting ranking—the ranking featured most prominently on Vault.com and in our annual Guide to the Top 50 Accounting Firms—was our prestige ranking. Two years ago, that changed. After asking accounting professionals what matters most to them when choosing an employer, they told us that, along with prestige, aspects such as culture, work/life balance, location, compensation, business outlook, and training opportunities were extremely important. As a result, we created the Vault Accounting 50, showcasing the firms deemed the Best to Work For, a ranking compiled using the following weighted formula:

40 percent prestige
20 percent firm culture
10 overall satisfaction
10 compensation
10 work/life balance
10 business outlook

This past January through March, more than 4,100 accountants took the annual Vault Accounting Survey, the results of which were used to compile our new rankings. And this year, the new No. 1 firm in the Vault Accounting 50 was New York-headquartered Ernst & Young.

With a score of 7.941, E&Y edged out Chicago-headquartered Grant Thornton (7.818), last year's No. 1 firm. Holding down the third spot for the second year in a row was New York-based Deloitte. And in fourth and fifth were PwC and KPMG, respectively.

As for why Ernst & Young took the top spot, the firm's prestige ranking rose this year versus last (from No. 3 to No. 2), and the firm outranked its fellow Big 4 firms (Deloitte, PwC, and KPMG) in firm culture, satisfaction, work/life balance, and compensation.

Meanwhile, Grant Thornton, which outranked all Big 4 firms (E&Y, Deloitte, PwC, and KPMG) in just about every quality of life category, scored far behind the Big 4 in terms of prestige, and so had to settle for second place.

See the full Vault Accounting 50 as well as the Prestige Rankings and Quality of Life Rankings.

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