Vault.com has ranked Grant Thornton as the top accounting firm to work for in the employment site’s second annual rankings.

Vault surveyed over 2,300 accounting professionals last spring to assess accounting firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on prestige, firm culture, overall satisfaction, compensation, hours and business outlook.  Grant Thornton took the top spot away from Deloitte, which ranked No. 1 last year, the company said Tuesday.

As a result of the respondent votes, the 10 best accounting firms to work for are:

1.    Grant Thornton
2.    PricewaterhouseCoopers               
3.    Deloitte     
4.    Rothstein, Kass & Company        
5.    Dixon Hughes Goodman                                                  
6.    Moss Adams                                 
7.    WithumSmith+Brown
8.    Friedman               
9.    Marcum                             
10.    EisnerAmper

“Grant Thornton unseating Deloitte as the No. 1 firm underscores the rise of the firms beyond the Big Four,” said Vault’s senior finance editor Derek Loosvelt in a statement. “Although the Big Four still reign when it comes to prestige, they no longer rank on top when it comes to important workplace issues such as culture, hours, and manager/junior relations. Grant Thornton, the most prestigious of the firms outside of the Big Four, ranked ahead of firms like Deloitte and PwC in most of these areas, which led it to be voted the best firm to work for.”

Grant Thornton received high marks from both inside and outside the firm. Survey respondents outside the firm praised Grant Thornton for being a “well positioned, growing firm,” “committed to excellence.”
They added that the firm is “technologically advanced,” “knowledgeable” and a “major player,” with a “quality reputation.” 

Grant Thornton insiders said they were extremely satisfied working for the firm. One employee noted, “My job is both mentally and socially stimulating and challenges me to my limits. I’m almost never doing the same thing from one day, week, or month to the next. There are periods of time when I have to work very hard, putting in long hours, but these times are balanced out with other periods of down time.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers ranked No. 2, a position it held last year when it was defeated by Deloitte. This year, accounting insiders referred to PwC as “top of the class,” a “solid brand” and “probably the most competent firm out there.” PwC was recommended for its “exceptional expertise and people management,” and for being “high-class, friendly and stable.” 

And while it did not grab the top spot this year, employees at the firm see big things ahead.  “PwC has a fantastic business outlook,” said one employee. “Unlike all of the other Big Four, PwC forewent lay-offs during the economic downturn which means we are staffed and ready to build market share as the economy bounces back. In addition, we have made a significant number of new hires, which have been fuelling growth and providing invaluable service to our clients.”

Rounding out the Top 3 was Deloitte, last year’s winner.  Despite slipping two spots to No. 3, Deloitte remains a prestigious firm, with insiders calling it “one of the strongest of the Big Four,” a “global leader” and a “power house.” Respondents highlighted the firm’s ability to “hire students with the best GPA,” and applauded their “prestigious client base” and “good employee programs.”

As for the firm’s insiders, one noted, “Deloitte takes very good care of its number one asset: its people. This is seen through our benefits and compensation packages, other subsidies and sabbatical/leave options. Deloitte has given me both the flexibility and opportunity that I look for, and I don't regret a single day that I've worked for the firm.” Another insider believes the firm will only get stronger in the future, stating, “Our firm is in a good position to expand. Morale is high, and we are putting ourselves in a position to bring in more business.”

Vault plans to follow up with the release of its Accounting Prestige Rankings on Wednesday, followed by the unveiling of its Accounting Quality of Life Rankings.

For more information, see the entire Vault Accounting 50 Rankings for 2012.

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