Julia Irvine 10 Mar 2017 11:21am

The best accountancy firms to work for in the US

KPMG has beaten its Big Four rivals to become the best accountancy firm to work for in the US

It is ranked 12th in Fortune magazine’s 2017 list of the 100 best US companies to work, up 31 places from 43rd in 2016. It’s the third year running that it has been placed above the other firms.

A delighted Lynne Doughtie, KPMG US’s chairman and CEO, said, “Our commitment to creating an inclusive culture where all of our people can thrive and innovate is unwavering.

“As we celebrate our 120th anniversary this year, this ranking is a testament to how our people care for our clients, our communities and each other every day.”

The Fortune list is compiled through extensive research among employees. This year, Fortune, together with its partner, the Great Place to Work Institute, surveyed more than 250,000 employees at 257 companies about their attitudes to corporate culture, including management credibility, job satisfaction, respect, camaraderie, compensation and fairness.

According to Fortune, those surveyed at KPMG “tout the ‘constantly challenging environment’ in which staff is ‘empowered to continue learning’”. Every year they spend upwards of 50 hours in training on average, and 14,700 have official mentors.

“There could not be a better place to launch a career,” one employee is quoted as saying.

Fellow Big Four firm PwC is the next highest placed in the list at 23. According to Fortune, its employees love the firm’s “impeccable reputation” and “countless opportunities for growth, travel and leadership” experiences.

It also cites PwC’s graduate scheme – it hired more than 5,500 over the last 12 months – which includes offering them help with paying off their student loans with an annual contribution of $1,200 (£907).

"It's particularly gratifying that two-thirds of our score is based upon feedback from our own people," said PwC chief people officer Michael Fenlon.

"We have to constantly innovate, not only for our clients, but in our employee experience. Helping to pay student loans is an example of the ways in which we've worked to create innovative benefits. 

"We work hard to listen to our people, to be open, to challenge the status quo. And it's all built on trust, and developing leaders at all levels. Trusting our people to work from home at times and have flexibility.

"This year we rolled out a flexible dress policy, and, yes, that includes wearing jeans when it's appropriate."

He added that the firm was committed to innovation in learning in its teams "like a teaching hospital", and continuously developing leadership and technical expertise in a digital economy.

Third placed EY, which came in at 29th, apparently gets “rave reviews” from its employees for its “phenomenal” flexibility which enables them to “work when and where they want”. As a result they have “the freedom to enjoy life’s little things (such as attending children’s recitals) and the big ones (taking 16 weeks off for parental leave”.

EY US chairman and managing partner Stephen Howe explained that the firm’s focus on inclusiveness allowed it “to ask better questions, develop multi-faceted solutions and enable team-driven holistic outcomes”.

“Doing so helps us to deliver high quality results to our clients, as well as create a supportive work environment that allows everyone to thrive.”

Deloitte makes it into 64th place, thanks to its employees’ love of its commitment to the work/life balance. They appreciate the fact they get 42 paid days off a year, as well as access to a sabbatical programme.

Fortune quotes one employee as saying, “You can take ownership of your own time and do what works best for you. We really do, from the top down, honour having a life.”

However, one firm – the only non-Big Four one to rate a mention – beats the world’s current largest accountancy firm by 13 places. Plante Moran, ranked 14th in the top 20 biggest firms in the US, is ranked 51st.

Its management philosophy, says Fortune, is “summed up by the golden rule… ‘caring for others is the cornerstone of our culture’”.

As PM managing partner Gordon Krater explains, “Plante Moran was founded on the understanding that the most successful organisations foster and maintain business cultutes where outstanding people are developed, coached, mentored and rewarded.

“We incent our staff to not only become exceptional ‘client servers’ but to coach next generation staff and ultimately identify and prepare their successors.”

Plante Moran has appeared in the 100 best companies’ to work for list for 19 out of the 20 years it has existed. Only EY matches that record.

Deloitte has made the rankings 18 times, while comparative newcomers PwC and KPMG have been mentioned 13 and 10 times respectively.

The top three companies overall are Google (first), Wegmans Food Markets and the Boston Consulting Group. Interestingly, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft – all of whom regularly feature in the top 10 on listings – are nowhere to be seen.