Grant Thornton Tops Vault’s Accounting 50 (2012)

Yes my friends, the Purple Rose of Chicago’s focus on all things dynamic and pinstripe hating was enough to catapult the firm to the #1 spot on Vault’s Accounting 50. Varnton’s rise “an upset of sorts” but I’ll go ahead and say this is more worthy of “shocker” status. This is like “Dewey Defeats Truman.” It’s the Miracle on Ice. Hell, it’s like when Brad Pitt finds Gwenyth Paltrow’s head at the end of Se7en (what do you MEAN you haven’t seen it?).

Don’t get me wrong, Grant Thornton is a fine firm. Sure, purple isn’t my favorite but the people there seem nice and very capable but HONESTLY this was not expected. When he hears the news, Stephen Chipman will probably start running through halls of the Chicago office sans pants trousers rallying everyone down to the nearest pub (pictures, please). Anyway, let’s get to the Top 25 (previous year in parenthesis), shall we?

1 (23) Grant Thornton
2 (2) PwC
3 (1) Deloitte
4 (3) Rothstein Kass
5 (5) Dixon Hughes Goodman


6 (6) Moss Adams
7 (11) WithumSmith + Brown
8 (8) Friedman
9 (4) Marcum
10 (28) EisnerAmper
11 (14) Eide Bailly
12 (18) SS&G Financial Services
13 (12) Berdon
14 (7) Elliott Davis
15 (NR) Rehmann
16 (33) Baker Tilly Virchow Krause
17 (17) Armanino McKenna
18 (16) CBIZ/Mayer Hoffman McCann
19 (41) Marks Paneth & Shron
20 (20) Schenck
21 (10) Cherry, Bekaert & Holland
22 (21) Ernst & Young
23 (22) KPMG
24 (25) McGladrey
25 (24) BDO

As for how GT orchestrated this epic upset, here’s Vault’s Derek Loosvelt:

Although the Big Four firms PwC and Deloitte both significantly outscored Grant Thornton (the perennial fifth largest accounting firm in the country) in terms of prestige, Grant Thornton handily beat PwC and Deloitte in nearly every quality of life category. In other words, while the two Big Four firms’ names still carry much more weight than Grant Thornton’s in the marketplace, insiders are much more pleased with their day to day work lives at the non-Big Four GT than their peers are at PwC and Deloitte. In fact, non-Big Four firms ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in all but three quality of life categories (these rankings will be released over the next couple of days). Although Grant Thornton did not top any single category, it consistently placed ahead of PwC and Deloitte. Particular tough categories for the Big Four firms were hours and overall satisfaction.

So there are a couple of stories here: 1) Holy shit – Grant Thornton?! and 2) prestige seems to carry less and less weight in favor of quality of life for those looking to choose a public accounting firm as their employer. We’ll be covering the Vault list and the firms therein with more posts but until then, feel free to comment on the Top 25 and what you make of GT as the new #1.

50 Most Prestigious Accounting Firms [Vault]
Vault’s New Accounting 50 Ranking Has Plenty of Surprises [GC]

Yes my friends, the Purple Rose of Chicago’s focus on all things dynamic and pinstripe hating was enough to catapult the firm to the #1 spot on Vault’s Accounting 50. Vault called Grant Thornton’s rise “an upset of sorts” but I’ll go ahead and say this is more worthy of “shocker” status. This is like “Dewey Defeats Truman.” It’s the Miracle on Ice. Hell, it’s like when Brad Pitt finds Gwenyth Paltrow’s head at the end of Se7en (what do you MEAN you haven’t seen it?).

Don’t get me wrong, Grant Thornton is a fine firm. Sure, purple isn’t my favorite but the people there seem nice and very capable but HONESTLY this was not expected. When he hears the news, Stephen Chipman will probably start running through halls of the Chicago office sans pants trousers rallying everyone down to the nearest pub (pictures, please). Anyway, let’s get to the Top 25 (previous year in parenthesis), shall we?

1 (23) Grant Thornton
2 (2) PwC
3 (1) Deloitte
4 (3) Rothstein Kass
5 (5) Dixon Hughes Goodman


6 (6) Moss Adams
7 (11) WithumSmith + Brown
8 (8) Friedman
9 (4) Marcum
10 (28) EisnerAmper
11 (14) Eide Bailly
12 (18) SS&G Financial Services
13 (12) Berdon
14 (7) Elliott Davis
15 (NR) Rehmann
16 (33) Baker Tilly Virchow Krause
17 (17) Armanino McKenna
18 (16) CBIZ/Mayer Hoffman McCann
19 (41) Marks Paneth & Shron
20 (20) Schenck
21 (10) Cherry, Bekaert & Holland
22 (21) Ernst & Young
23 (22) KPMG
24 (25) McGladrey
25 (24) BDO

As for how GT orchestrated this epic upset, here’s Vault’s Derek Loosvelt:

Although the Big Four firms PwC and Deloitte both significantly outscored Grant Thornton (the perennial fifth largest accounting firm in the country) in terms of prestige, Grant Thornton handily beat PwC and Deloitte in nearly every quality of life category. In other words, while the two Big Four firms’ names still carry much more weight than Grant Thornton’s in the marketplace, insiders are much more pleased with their day to day work lives at the non-Big Four GT than their peers are at PwC and Deloitte. In fact, non-Big Four firms ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in all but three quality of life categories (these rankings will be released over the next couple of days). Although Grant Thornton did not top any single category, it consistently placed ahead of PwC and Deloitte. Particular tough categories for the Big Four firms were hours and overall satisfaction.

So there are a couple of stories here: 1) Holy shit – Grant Thornton?! and 2) prestige seems to carry less and less weight in favor of quality of life for those looking to choose a public accounting firm as their employer. We’ll be covering the Vault list and the firms therein with more posts but until then, feel free to comment on the Top 25 and what you make of GT as the new #1.

50 Most Prestigious Accounting Firms [Vault]
Vault’s New Accounting 50 Ranking Has Plenty of Surprises [GC]

Related articles

Vault 50: Big 4 Among the Most Prestigious Consulting Firms (2020)

While you guys were wasting billable hours yesterday still debating which fast-food restaurant has the best fried chicken sandwich, we posted an article about the latest Vault Consulting 50 rankings and how the Big 4 did pretty well. If you missed it because you were trying to hunt down a Popeyes fried chicken sandwich, all […]