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PwC Tops Vault Accounting 50 (2014)

After a couple of interesting teasers on LGBT relations and satisfaction among women, our friends at Vault have unveiled their Accounting 50 ranking today. The results will probably annoy many of you because, yes, PwC topped the three big categories in Vault's 2014 rankings — Overall Ranking, Prestige, and Diversity. 

For now, we'll do a quick overview of the top five in each of these three categories:

1. PwC (4)
2. Deloitte (3)
3. Grant Thornton (2)
4. Ernst & Young (1)
5. BDO (29)

As you know, Vault surveys only accounting professionals that work at these firms to come up with their lists. The methodology for the Overall Ranking applies a weighted formula to determine where each firm lands and it has seen a lot of shuffling over the years. It began with the 2011 list that had Deloitte on top and PwC at #2. The 2012 list saw Grant Thornton's surprise leap to #1, with PwC at #2 again. Last year, Ernst & Young's big jump to the top for 2013 (PwC was 4th). So while P. Dubs has always been hanging around the top spot, they had never topped the list and I'm sure this will make for lovely marketing materials for the rest of the year. 

1. PwC (1)
2. Ernst & Young (2)
3. Deloitte (3)
4. KPMG (4)
5. Grant Thornton (5)

The least exciting listing by far. The top seven firms are unchanged and no firm in the top twenty-five moved more than five spots either up or down in the ranking. The methodlogy for this one is simple:

[P]articipants were asked to rate companies other than their own on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most prestigious; participants were asked only to rate firms with which they were familiar, and were not permitted to rate their own (or former) employer. Vault averaged the prestige scores for each firm and ranked them in order. 

Prestige is one of those things that everyone seems to know without too much debate. People outside of PwC see that firm as the most prestigious and that's that. Maybe you'd see Deloitte and E&Y swap spots every so often but that's about it. Really, there's very little any firm can do to change their perceived level of prestige over a short period of time, so that makes this particular ranking a snoozer.

1. PwC (15)
2. Berdon (11)
3. Deloitte (10)
4. Rothstein Kass (5)
5. Grant Thornton (8)

This particular ranking is, to me, the most subjective in a long list of subjective lists, since every office at each firm will have different expectations and thus, widely different results. The methodology explains as much:

Insiders were asked to rate their firm's commitment to diversity with respect to women, minorities, LGBT individuals, military veterans, and individuals with disabilities. To determine our Best 20 Firms for Diversity, we used a formula that weights the average score in all five categories equally. Like our other quality of life rankings, the diversity rankings reflect the opinions and perceptions of insiders.

We'll continue digging through the results and share anything else interesting.

PwC Ranks No. 1 in Latest Vault Accounting 50 [Vault]