Public accounting firms

A CPA Firm with a Chief Creative Designer? A Conversation with Adrian Simmons

Ed. note: This is another interview in our series of discussions with accountants-turned-entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs who run a business in or around the accounting profession. Whether it's an transforming an accounting firm, opening a coffee shop, or developing a mobile app, we're talking to entrepreneurs who know accounting. If you want to suggest someone for […]

Dewey Think an Accounting Firm Could Go Bankrupt?

Michael Cohn over at Accounting Today wonders if an accounting firm could suffer the same fate as recently departed global law firm Dewey & Leboeuf. It's a question worth asking since the entity structures for both accounting and law firms are similar and mergers are common in both industries. But really, it's not as likely (although not […]

Vault Accounting 50: The Not Quite Top 25 (2013)

Since we've sufficiently gave attention to the top 25 firms in this year's Vault Accounting 50, as well as those firms whom you all think are the bee knees, we know will present the firms that are a merger or two or three away (or the endorsement of another golfer that will pose in body […]

Vault’s Accounting 50: The Not Quite Top 25

Earlier we sprung this year’s Vault Accounting 50 on you, with the surprising news that Grant Thornton had come out of nowhere to take the ultimate bragging rights. While all of the usual suspects managed to make into the Top 25 (many of them just barely), there are plenty of familiar names in the 26-50. Sure no one gives a damn but Vault went to the trouble putting this thing together and there’s some good people over there, so we’ll play ball.

26 (27) J.H. Cohn
27 (26) Plante & Moran
28 (30) Crowe Horwath
29 (29) Clifton Gunderson
30 (35) LarsonAllen


31 (31) BKD
32 (13) Reznick Group
33 (36) Anchin, Block & Anchin
34 (32) WeiserMazars
35 (19) ParenteBearde
36 (39) Wipfli
37 (42) Citrin Cooperman
38 (38) UHY Advisors
39 (43) Margolin, Winer & Evens
40 (45) Blackman Kallick
41 (37) Novogradac & Company
42 (NR) RubinBrown
43 (NR) Schonbraun McCann Group
44 (9) Kaufman, Rossin & Co.
45 (NR) Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain
46 (50) Frank Rimerman & Co. (tie)
46 (NR) Habif, Arogeti & Wynne (tie)
47 (NR) Burr Pilger Mayer
48 (NR) Horne
49 (NR) Suby, Von Haden & Associates
49 (NR) Ehrhardt Keefe Steiner & Hottman
50 (46) Aronson & Company

Two notables that we’ll mention: 1) Reznick Group’s drop from 13 to 32 could be due to the respondents’ reaction to the tricks pulled during our Coolest Accounting Firm competition; 2) as for Kaufman, Rossin & Co., well, the firm is out of Florida. That should explain it.

Accounting Firms Rankings 2012: Vault Accounting 50 [Vault, Earlier]

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]

Corporate Tax Jockey Wants Some Details on Life in Public Accounting

Welcome to the Rock-Chalk-Deadhawk edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a young tax accountant working for a Fortune 100 company wants to jump over to public accounting and wants to know what expect (other than the long hours, of course).

Looking for some average to above-average career advice that doesn’t come from your breathlessly judgmental friends? Wondering if a co-worker or client is annoyed with you but can’t seem to pick up any hints? Short on family time and need some solutions? =”mailto:advice@goingconcern.com”>advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll make you “Parent of the Year” in no time.

Turning back to tax trouble du jour:

Dear Going Concern,

I am interested in hearing your thoughts about how to make the move from the private tax world and into a public accounting firm. I just completed a Macc degree and have spent nearly one year working in the tax department of a Fortune 100 company. During the college recruiting frenzy I had an opportunity with a regional firm but opted for the large company instead because I felt it would provide more opportunity. After working on the private side for awhile I have realized that I want to pursue an opportunity in public accounting.

As I research firms to determine what they are looking for in an experienced hire I frequently see “1-2 years public accounting experience”, “MST and/or JD/LLM”, and “CPA or enrolled agent”. These qualifications have prompted me to contact you in order to receive your uncensored comments and answers to the following questions:

• Are a lot of Tax Senior positions filled by law school graduates?

• What is the difference between 1-2 years in public tax compared to 1-2 years at a Fortune 100 corporate tax department?

Dear Tax MAcc,

You kept it simple, so much so that we can barely find an angle to mock anything that you wrote. With that, I’m guessing you’re not working at GE (aka “best tax law firm“) otherwise you wouldn’t have tapped out your inquiry.

As a general rule, I’d say that the answer is no. It may depend on your definition of “a lot” and also what tax group you’re referring to but most of the SAs in tax practices are accountants with law school grads sprinkled in here and there. A public accounting firm is a choice of last resort for most (if not all) law school grads but in these desperate times they may be more common than in years past. Public accounting firms advertising for a JD/LLM simply don’t want to narrow their candidates to the MSTs/CPAs/EAs out there as anyone with a JD/LLM is clearly qualified to perform several aspects of the job.

Secondly, the main difference between 1-2 years working in public accounting versus 1-2 years at F100 tax department will be the diversity of tax issues as it relates to various clients and transactions. The tax department of a Fortune 100 company works for one client and should be well staffed with competent professionals that know the tax issues inside and out with very few surprises (unless you run your tax department like WFT). During the first two years in a public accounting firm your superiors will throw everything they can at you, including new clients and all the work they don’t want to do. This smorgasbord of clients will pose different issues and transactions that wouldn’t necessarily see at your Fortune 100 company.

Anyone made the jump from private to public? Give our hero some of your thoughts. I’m going to try and get my ears to quit bleeding.

Vault’s Best Accounting Firms To Work For (Continued): Cube Farms, Selectivity, Tolerance for Stupid Questions

This morning we rolled a few more Vault rankings that gave you an idea of why they could be decent place to hold down a job.

Round two involves more categories for the bestest of the best, kicking off with your office digs:

Offices (don’t need a key for the john, “nap” rooms, The Onion and porn aren’t blocked)
1. Marcum
2. Kaufman, Rossin & Co.
3. Elliott Davis
5. Deloitte
7. Rothstein Kass
8. PwC
16. Moss Adams


Satisfaction (with relative lack of sexual harrassment? This seems unfinished.)
1. Armanino McKenna – San Ramon, CA
2. Berdon – NYC
3. CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann – Cleveland, OH
5. Deloitte
13. Moss Adams
15. PwC
17. Rothstein Kass

Selectivity (ratio of hotties?)
1. PwC
2. Dixon Hughes – High Point, NC
3. Marcum
5. Deloitte
13. Rothstein Kass
14. Moss Adams

Formal Training (aka watching PowerPoint presentations to be followed up by heavy drinking)
1. Kaufman, Rossin & Co.
2. Marcum
3. Elliott Davis
10. Rothstein Kass
14. Deloitte
16. PwC
20. Moss Adams

Informal Training (aka your direct superior rolling their eyes at you before answering your question)
1. Marcum
2. PwC
3. Kaufman, Rossin & Co.
5. Deloitte
12. Rothstein Kass
15. Moss Adams

Vault Accounting 50: Firms #11-#20 (2011)

Jumping back into the Vault Rankings after going over the Top 10 last week, we bring you the firms that are on the cusp of greatness or merely experiencing the best it will ever be.

The most interesting thing about 11-20 is that lack of a “major” firm. If you want to make the argument that CBIZ is a major firm, we suggest you talk them into dropping the “CBIZ” and simply embrace Mayer Hoffman McCann. We shouldn’t have to explain it further than that.

Of course, if you’ve got any news, gossip or anything relatively interesting about any of these firms, email us at tips@goingconcern.com. As for the firms, here theblockquote>11. WithumSmith+Brown, PC – Princeton, NJ
12. Berdon LLP – New York, NY
13. Reznick Group, P.C. – Bethesda, MD
14. Eide Bailly LLP – Fargo, ND
15. Goodman & Company, LLP – Virginia Beach, VA
16. CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C. – Cleveland, OH
17. Armanino McKenna – San Ramon, CA
18. SS&G Financial Services, Inc. – Cleveland, OH
19. ParenteBeard LLC – Philadelphia, PA
20. Schenck Business Solutions – Appleton, WI


And some of the buzz from Vault’s, err, vault:

WithumSmith+Brown, PC – “The people at WS+B are great to work with”— “familial” “culture that’s second to none”; “Not all partners respect scheduling requirements and quality of life”

Berdon LLP – “Reputable”; “Older crowd, not very hip”

Reznick Group, P.C. – “Alot of Big Four alumni”; “Flashy”

Eide Bailly LLP – “Extremely qualified”; “A widely unrecognized name”

Goodman & Company, LLP – “Relaxed culture”; “A mess”

CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C. – “Flexibility and autonomy”; “Change is resisted”

Armanino McKenna – “Upward mobility without waiting for partners to retire”; “Never heard of this firm”

SS&G Financial Services, Inc. – “Personable, friendly environment”

ParenteBeard LLC – “Smart, aggressive”; “Arrogant”

Schenck Business Solutions – “Solid, have only heard positive things”; “Low-ball service provider”; “Macho”

News at these firms fly beneath our radar for the most part but we did not ParenteBearde’s merger last year and Armanino McKenna’s CFO survey from this summer that showed some signs of life in the job Bay Area job market.

Earlier:
Vault’s New Accounting 50 Ranking Has Plenty of Surprises

Vault Accounting 50 Rankings: Digging Into The Top 10

Kicking off our series of posts on the Vault Accounting 50 is the Top 10 firms. While we’ve got two very familiar names at the top, the rest of the top ten you may not be familiar with.

Feel free to comment on any of the firms in the top ten and their appropriateness or lack thereof or whatever else strikes you.

Plus If you’ve got any news, gossip or other information (compensation, cost-saving ingenuity and so on) for any of these firms that is fit for this here site, do get in touch with us at tips@goingconcern.com.

Now before we get to the highlights and lowlights on each, let’s refresh op ten:

1. Deloitte – New York, NY
2. PricewaterhouseCoopers – New York, NY
3. Rothstein Kass – Roseland, NJ
4. Marcum – Melville, NY
5. Dixon Hughes – High Point, NC
6. Moss Adams – Seattle, WA
7. Elliott Davis – Greenville, SC
8. Friedman – New York, NY
9. Kaufman, Rossin & Company – Miami, FL
10. Cherry, Bekaert & Holland – Richmond, VA


Here’s some of the buzz (and maybe a comment from us) from Vault’s profiles on the top ten:

Deloitte – “Earning potential as a partner is huge” but “Long path to partner” (that includes working “a lot of hours and weekends”)

PricewaterhouseCoopers – “The dean of public accounting” but “Pompous; GPA’s their only concern—they don’t consider experience or ambition”

Rothstein Kass – “Underdogs; competitors, hard workers” that are “Understaffed and undertrained”

Marcum – “Close to the Big Four—and growing in size daily”; “Works you to death; will spit you out if they don’t think you’re top talent”

Dixon Hughes – “Plenty of opportunities to advance”; “Headaches of rapid growth yet still limited by regional size”

Moss Adams – “Well-run, great firm”; “Could do better with its overall minority recruiting efforts” (Barry Salzberg might be willing to help!)

Elliott Davis – “Good, smaller firm”; “Lacks technical expertise”

Friedman – “Easy going atmosphere”; “Heavy pressure” (Jekkyl and Hyde?)

Kaufman, Rossin & Company – “Great working environment”; “Works with a lot of hedge funds; boys’ club”

Cherry, Bekaert & Holland – “Very reputable; Southern powerhouse”; “Work product is subpar”

And a sample of stories around these parts on the Top 10:

Deloitte associates attempting hip-hop

• A PwC partner in Houston that might make you think twice about attending happy hours

• Pre-Labor layoffs at Rothstein Kass

• Consider hitting the books before interviewing at Marcum

Moss Adams picked up Grant Thornton’s Albuquerque office

Kaufman, Rossin settled their lawsuit over their role in missing the Petters Ponzi Scheme for a shade under $10 mil.

The Second Tier of Vault’s Accounting 50 Has More Familiar Names

As promised, we’re presenting the second half of Vault’s Accounting 50, which has a lot of familiar names at the top of the second tier.

26. Plante & Moran, PLLC – Southfield, MI
27. J.H. Cohn LLP – Roseland, NJ
28. Eisner LLP – New York, NY
29. Clifton Gunderson LLP – Peoria, IL
30. Crowe Horwath LLP – Oak Brook Terrace, IL

31. BKD, LLP – Springfield, MO
32. Weiser LLP – New York, NY
33. Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP – Madison, WI
34. Amper Politziner & Mattia, LLP – Edison, NJ
35. LarsonAllen LLP – Minneapolis, MN
36. Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP – New York, NY
37. Novogradac & Company LLP – San Francisco, CA
38. UHY Advisors, Inc. – Chicago, IL
39. Wipfli LLP – Milwaukee, WI
40. Beers + Cutler PLLC – Vienna, VA
41. Marks Paneth & Shron LLP – New York, NY
42. Citrin Cooperman & Company, LLP – New York, NY
43. Margolin, Winer & Evens LLP – Garden City, NY
44. Stonefield Josephson, Inc. – Los Angeles, CA
45. Blackman Kallick – Chicago, IL
46. Aronson & Company – Rockville, MD
47. Schneider Downs & Co., Inc. – Pittsburgh, PA
48. Burr Pilger Mayer, Inc. – San Francisco, CA
49. Watkins, Meegan, Drury & Company, L.L.C. – Bethesda, MD
50. Frank Rimerman & Co. LLP – Palo Alto, CA

As we said this morning, we’ll dig into some of the particulars on all these firms in a series of posts and point out any past stories we’ve done in these here pages for additional color. For now, feel free to comment on the second tier.

Earlier:
Vault’s New Accounting 50 Ranking Has Plenty of Surprises

Vault’s New Accounting 50 Ranking Has Plenty of Surprises

This year our friends and Vault took a different approach to this year’s ranking for accounting firms. Rather than focus primarily on prestige of a given firm, many working in the industry voiced other aspects of their firms that were more important.

Vault Finance Editor Derek Loosvelt said in a press release, “In the past, our primary accounting ranking was based solely on prestige, but when we asked accounting professionals what the most important determining factor was when choosing an employer, they told us, overwhelmingly, that firm culture was most important.” How important??

“In fact, 36 percent of all accounting professionals we surveyed told us that firm culture was most important, while only 11 percent cited prestige as most important. Vault created its new ranking with this feedback in mind.”

But don’t fret, prestige whores – Vault’s prestige rankings will be out next week and we’ll bring those rankings to you, as well as their Quality of Life rankings. But for now, let’s get to the pecking order for the inaugural Best Firms to Work For ranking. We’ll bring you the top 25 for now and present the next 25 in a separate post. Plus, we’ll dig into the gory details in future posts. But that’s enough talk for now:

1. Deloitte – New York, NY
2. PricewaterhouseCoopers – New York, NY
3. Rothstein Kass – Roseland, NJ

4. Marcum – Melville, NY
5. Dixon Hughes – High Point, NC
6. Moss Adams – Seattle, WA
7. Elliott Davis – Greenville, SC
8. Friedman – New York, NY
9. Kaufman, Rossin & Company – Miami, FL
10. Cherry, Bekaert & Holland – Richmond, VA
11. WithumSmith+Brown, PC – Princeton, NJ
12. Berdon LLP – New York, NY
13. Reznick Group, P.C. – Bethesda, DC
14. Eide Bailly LLP – Fargo, ND
15. Goodman & Company, LLP – Virginia Beach, VA
16. CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C. – Cleveland, OH
17. Armanino McKenna – San Ramon, CA
18. SS&G Financial Services, Inc. – Cleveland, OH
19. ParenteBeard LLC – Philadelphia, PA
20. Schenck Business Solutions – Appleton, WI
21. Ernst & Young LLP – New York, NY
22. KPMG LLP – New York, NY
23. Grant Thornton LLP – Chicago, IL
24. BDO Seidman LLP – Chicago, IL
25. McGladrey & Pullen LLP/RSM McGladrey Inc. – Bloomington, MN

So the biggest surprise, from where we stand is Rothstein Kass lofty position in the top three. Not because we don’t suspect that they are a fine firm but it was simply unexpected. In fact, the top ten is full of surprises. Of the top ten in the list above, only Deloitte and PwC appear in the top ten in Inside Public Accounting’s Top 100. The obvious message here is – Bigger is not necessarily better.

And that particular premise is most obvious as we see two Big 4 firms – E&Y and KPMG – and three other mega firms – GT, BDO and McGladrey – rounding out the top twenty-five.

There are lots of familiar names in the top twenty-five so feel free to comment on any of them and where they fall on the pecking order.

Accounting Firms Rankings 2011: Vault Accounting 50 [Vault]
The New Vault Accounting 50 [In The Black/Vault]

Inside Public Accounting’s Top 100 Firms List Has Few Surprises

Inside Public Accounting put out their annual ranking of accounting firms this month and like the Accounting Today list, it is based on revenues so it barely causes a stir.

Not that we don’t appreciate the distraction in the middle of August but the list doesn’t have any surprises and is nearly identical to AT’s. Nevertheless, we’ll present the top 25 firms here for your dissecting enjoyment (previous ranking in brackets):

1. Deloitte [1]
2. Ernst & Young [2]
3. PricewaterhouseCoopers [3]
4. KPMG [4]
5. McGladrey [5] (who is still calling this firm “RSM McGladrey” and “McGladrey & Pullen”? They had cake and punch for crissakes.)


6. Grant Thornton [6]
7. Mayer Hoffman & McCann/CBIZ [8]
8. BDO [7]
9. Crowe Horwath [9]
10. BKD [10]
11. Moss Adams [11]
12. Plante & Moran [12]
13. Clifton Gunderson [14]
14. Baker Tilly Virchow Krause [17]
15. Marcum [20]
16. J.H. Cohn [15]
17. UHY Advisors [16]
18. LarsonAllen [19]
19. Reznick Group [13]
20. Dixon Hughes [18]
21. ParenteBeard [35/36]
22. Rothstein Kass [21]
23. Eide Bailly [22]
24. Eisner [23]
25. WeiserMazars [24]

So then. The top 5 is a snoozer, per usual. You can see that the the firms that experienced a merger or acquisition in the past year are the ones that jumped the most (e.g. BTVK, ParenteBeard, Marcum) with the exception of WeiserMazars, a merger that was an international play as opposed to a domestic one. And since rumored mergers don’t count you don’t see the Eisner Amper effect here. Reznick Group experienced the most significant drop which can’t be explained at this point but we’d love to hear theories.

Full Report [PDF]