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PwC Continues to Dominate Vault Accounting 50 (2021)

Not even a pandemic, the likes of which we’ve never seen, could stop the folks at Vault from releasing its 2021 Accounting 50 today. But if you were hoping for a firm other than PwC to take the top spot in the latest Vault ranking of the top accounting firms in the U.S., well, you’ll be disappointed. The House of Ryan was ranked No. 1 for the eighth straight year.

Can anyone name the last firm not named PwC to lead the Vault Accounting 50? That’s right, it was EY in 2013. How the mighty have fallen: EY’s all the way down at No. 29 in the 2021 ranking—the only Big 4 firm not in the top five. But I doubt Carmine Di Sibio, Kelly Grier, et al., are going to lose any sleep over it.

So, why is PwC No. 1 and EY No. 29? 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 last time EY participated in the survey was 2016; hence why the Black and Yellow’s average ranking the past three years has been 28th.

Before we get to the complete 2021 Vault Accounting 50 ranking, let’s see which firms were the biggest movers, shakers, and disappointments:

  • PwC, Deloitte, and KPMG remain in the top three spots, respectively, but Grant Thornton plummeted from No. 4 in 2020’s ranking all the way down to No. 30 in 2021’s ranking. Probably because the Purple Rose of Chicago didn’t take part in Vault’s most recent survey. GT’s laziness helped BDO USA move up one spot to No. 4. Climbing into the top five is Fortune magazine’s favorite accounting firm, Plante Moran, which moved up from No. 8 in 2020’s ranking.
  • New to the 2021 Accounting 50 are Tampa-based Schellman & Co., which magically appeared at No. 11, Aprio at No. 19, Frazier & Deeter at No. 24, and Bennett Thrasher at No. 50.
  • Firms ranked in 2020 that made the biggest gains in 2021 were Grassi & Co. (up 26 spots to No. 20) and BPM (up 26 spots to No. 22).
  • Besides Grant Thornton, firms ranked in 2020 that dropped the most spots were Marks Paneth (down seven spots to No. 27), Eide Bailly (down five spots to No. 17), and Freed Maxick (down five spots to No. 28).

It’ll be interesting to see if any of the firms in the 2021 top 50 that have laid people off, furloughed employees, or cut employee salaries during the COVID-19 pandemic will remain in the 2022 top 50. I counted 10 firms in the latest Vault ranking that we know have cut pay or staff or both within the past month.

Alright, enough with the pleasantries. Let’s get to the top 50 (previous year in parenthesis), shall we?

1. PwC (1)
2. Deloitte (2)
3. KPMG (3)
4. BDO USA (5)
5. Plante Moran (8)
6. Baker Tilly (6)
7. RSM US (7)
8. Moss Adams (9)
9. CohnReznick (11)
10. Friedman (10)
11. Schellman & Co. (NR)
12. Frank, Rimerman + Co. (14)
13 (tie). CBIZ MHM (19)
13 (tie). PKF O’Connor Davies (16)
15. Armanino (13)
16. Brown Smith Wallace (17)
17. Eide Bailly (12)
18. Withum (15)
19. Aprio (NR)
20. Grassi & Co. (46)
21. Elliott Davis (18)
22. BPM (48)
23. Mazars USA (25)
24. Frazier & Deeter (NR)
25. Sikich (21)
26. Rehmann (22)
27. Marks Paneth (20)
28. Freed Maxick (23)
29. EY (27)
30. Grant Thornton (4)
31. Crowe (28)
32. BKD (30)
33. CliftonLarsonAllen (29)
34. Dixon Hughes Goodman (31)
35. Marcum (32)
36. EisnerAmper (33)
37. Cherry Bekaert (34)
38. Wipfli (35)
39. Citrin Cooperman (36)
40. UHY Advisors (37)
41. RubinBrown (38)
42. The Siegfried Group (39)
43. Cohen & Co. (40)
44. Blumshapiro (41)
45. Carr, Riggs, & Ingram (49)
46. Anchin (43)
47. Novogradac & Co. (42)
48. Berdon (45)
49. The Bonadio Group (50)
50. Bennett Thrasher (NR)

We’ll crank out some more stuff around the Vault Accounting 50 rankings in the coming days. But for now, discuss the top 50 as you see fit.

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