The bitter cold of winter in the Northeast means it is time for us to once again survey the landscape of the profession. As you, our valued readers, bravely face the perils and opportunities of yet another tax season, we are plowing headlong into our annual Top 100 Firms survey -- already two months in the making.

In our quest to drill down into the inner workings of the nation's largest firms for the Accounting Today survey and the related Practical Accountant Regional Survey of Firms, we sent requests for data to more than 185 firms. As you can imagine, we're working with a heap of data that rivals the amount of snow that the past weekend's blizzard dumped on the tri-state area.

While I can't yet reveal here the answers to the questions that most of you really want to know - who made the list, who didn't make the list, and what was the cut off - I can tell you that mergers were a huge theme in 2004. Dozens of firms on the forthcoming list grew in leaps and bounds via acquisitions -- in some cases, multiple mergers propelled their growth. In a few cases, mergers eliminated a few firms that had made the list in the past.

I can also tell you that, combined, the members of the 2005 Top 100 accounted for more than $33 billion in revenue, a growth rate of more than 8 percent - or roughly $2.53 billion -- over the prior year (based on their revised 2003 numbers). Together, they account for more than 17,000 offices across the country. Their staff ranks, which swelled by 6 percent, grew to nearly 161,000 in fiscal 2004.

Making the case that core services are still, indeed, core, roughly 47 percent of the Top 100 Firms' revenue came from accounting and audit services, while about a third came from tax services, and management advisory services accounted for nearly 14 percent, with the balance coming from other non-core services.

The majority of firms responding to our survey said that business valuations, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, litigation support, attest services, and estate/trust/gift tax planning are hot growth areas, while manufacturing, midsized businesses, real estate, nonprofit organizations and professional services firms rank among the hottest client categories for growth.

Unfortunately, that's about all I can tell you at this point. For the full scoop, and for insights from the leaders of the Top 100, you'll have to wait until the list and all of the related features are published in the March 14 issue of Accounting Today.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access