PWC Remains #1 Overall Best Accounting Firm: Vault Study

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On April 15, 2019, as taxpayers around the country scramble to file their returns, will release its annual Accounting 50, a ranking of the best accounting firms to work for.

Here are some highlights:

PwC Still on Top and Getting Better: PwC again ranked as the Best Accounting Firm to Work For, taking the No. 1 spot in the Accounting 50 for the seventh straight year. PwC also ranked No. 1 in more categories this year vs. last. In addition to topping the Accounting 50, it ranked No. 1 in Prestige, Benefits, Business Outlook, Firm Leadership, Hiring Process, Informal Training, Promotion Policies, and Minority Diversity.

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Deloitte Holding Strong in Second: Yet again, Deloitte ranked No. 2 in the Accounting 50 and No. 2 in Prestige. This year, there was less than a 4 percent score differential separating PwC and Deloitte in the Accounting 50, and just a 1.4 percent difference in their Prestige scores. Also this year, Deloitte leaped two spots to rank No. 1 in the all-important Formal Training category.

KPMG Wins Big in Diversity and CSR: KPMG again ranked No. 3 in the Accounting 50 this year, while nearly sweeping the Diversity Rankings. KPMG ranked No. 1 in Overall Diversity, Female Diversity, and LGBT Diversity. It also ranked No. 1 in CSR Initiatives.

Friedman Is Best for Quality of Life: New York City-based Friedman LLP cracked the top 10 in the Accounting 50 this year, rising three places from its No. 13 showing last year. It also ranked No. 1 in six Quality of Life categories: Culture, Hours, Relationships with Supervisors, Satisfaction, Travel Requirements, and Work/Life Balance.


New York, NY (April 15, 2019) In the latest Vault Accounting 50, a ranking of the Best Accounting Firms to Work For based on a survey of more than 8,200 accountants, PwC maintained its No. 1 ranking while also topping the Prestige Rankings and several other categories, including Benefits, Business Outlook, Informal Training, Minority Diversity, and Promotion Policies. Fellow Big 4 firm Deloitte ranked No. 2 in both the Accounting 50 and the Prestige Rankings, and took the No. 1 spot in the all-important Formal Training category. Meanwhile, KPMG ranked No. 3 in the Accounting 50, and nearly swept the Diversity Rankings, coming it at No. 1 in Overall Diversity, Female Diversity, and LGBT Diversity.

The Top 10 firms in the Vault Accounting 50 based on Vault’s annual Accounting Survey are:

  1. PwC
  2. Deloitte
  3. KPMG
  4. Grant Thornton
  5. BDO USA
  6. Baker Tilly
  7. RSM
  8. Plante Moran
  9. Moss Adams
  10. Friedman

Accounting 50 Methodology

Earlier this year, Vault asked more than 8,200 accounting professionals to rate their own firms in various Quality of Life Categories (such as Firm Culture, Hours, Compensation, and Work/Life Balance). They were also asked to rate their peer firms in terms of Prestige (accountants couldn’t rate their own firms and were asked to only rate those firms with which they were familiar). The Accounting 50 was compiled using a weighted formula based on the following: 35 percent Prestige, 20 percent Firm Culture, 10 percent Satisfaction, 10 percent Compensation, 10 percent Work/Life Balance, 5 percent Business Outlook, 5 percent Formal Training, and 5 percent Informal Training.

PWC Still On Top

Accountants at peer firms told us that PwC is the “global leader,” and has a “strong technical and audit skill set,” “many high-profile clients,” and “awesome benefits.” Meanwhile, PwC insiders very much appreciate the “excellent opportunities for professional growth,” “flexible work schedules,” and “the people and culture”—especially the ability to “work collaboratively with caring, driven, intelligent, motivated colleagues to solve important problems.”

This year, accountants at peer firms told us that Deloitte is “large and powerful,” “a great brand,” and “very prestigious.” Meanwhile, Deloitte staff members raved about the “unmatched opportunity to learn and progress,” “working with top clients on complex issues,” “the best benefits in the industry,” and working with “highly intelligent colleagues in a supportive, professional environment.”

As for KPMG, it’s also “very prestigious,” according to peer accountants, who add that KPMG offers “great international opportunities” and is filled with “good people.” Insiders at KPMG praise the “early exposure to high-ranking client contacts and complex accounting issues,” “great people and culture,” and “new experiences everyday.”

“This year, PwC solidified its position as the No. 1 accounting firm to work for,” says Derek Loosvelt, Vault’s senior finance editor. “The firm held its spot atop our Prestige Rankings and improved its standing in most of our Quality of Life Rankings. PwC rose five places in Overall Satisfaction, four places in Culture, three places in Hours, and one place in Work/Life Balance. It also rose three places in Business Outlook to take the No. 1 spot, perhaps underlining the lead PwC is taking as public accounting firms become more reliant on technology to improve their bottom lines. Recently, PwC has begun to train much of its staff in areas such as AI and data analytics. That said, it was Deloitte that took home the No. 1 ranking in Formal Training this year, leaping from the No. 3 spot last year. And Deloitte, a much larger firm than PwC when it comes to annual revenues, was a very close second in both the Accounting 50 and our Prestige Rankings.”

Big 4 Firms Best for Diversity, Mid-Sized Firms Best for Quality of Life

Big 4 firm KPMG won three out of four of our Diversity Rankings, impressively ranking No. 1 in Overall Diversity, Diversity for Women, and LGBT Diversity, while fellow Big 4 firm PwC took the top spot in Minority Diversity. Here’s what one KPMG insider told us about a new firm initiative: “KPMG has begun a ‘Day of Understanding’ campaign, where positive discussions are held about diversity. This is done in an effort to promote communication and openness, so no topic is considered taboo or off-limits. They want us to feel like a collective group and to embrace our diversity instead of hide it. It's a great campaign, and I think it's working.”

Meanwhile, New York City-based Friedman was the big winner in our Quality of Life Rankings. Friedman cracked the top 10 in the Accounting 50 this year, and ranked No. 1 in Culture, Hours, Overall Satisfaction, Relationships with Supervisors, Travel Requirements, and Work/Life Balance. Friedman insiders told us that they very much appreciate “getting Fridays off the entire summer and the option to work remotely from home.” They also told us that “people here care about your success at work and treat you with respect, not just like another number,” and that “you won’t be able to find another accounting firm that gives you a better work/life balance.”

Vault’s Accounting Quality of Life Rankings Winners:

  • Benefits: PwC
  • Business Outlook: PwC
  • Client Interaction: PFK O’Connor Davies
  • Compensation: Brown Smith Wallace
  • CSR Initiatives: KPMG
  • Culture: Friedman
  • Diversity (Overall): KPMG
  • Diversity (Minorities): PwC
  • Diversity (Women): KPMG
  • Diversity (LGBT): KPMG
  • Firm Leadership: PwC
  • Formal Training: Deloitte
  • Hiring Process: PwC
  • Hours: Friedman
  • Informal Training: PwC
  • Internal Mobility: Frank Rimerman + Co.
  • Promotion Policies: PwC
  • Relationships with Supervisors: Friedman
  • Satisfaction: Friedman
  • Travel Requirements: Friedman
  • Vacation Policies: Frank Rimerman + Co.
  • Work/Life Balance: Friedman

The Vault Accounting 50 Rankings, Accounting Prestige Rankings, and Accounting Quality of Life Rankings can be found at:

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Vault is best known for its influential rankings, ratings, and reviews on thousands of top employers and hundreds of internship programs. On, recent graduates entering the workforce and professionals considering a job or career change can research background information about companies, schools, internships, and industries. They can search for current job openings and find essential advice on resumes, interviews, networking, and more to help them launch or build their careers.

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