Mix of Old and New Comprise 2014 Vault Accounting 50

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By Jason Bramwell

Vault.com released on April 15 its 2014 Vault Accounting 50, a ranking of the fifty best accounting firms to work for in North America. While the Big Four firms were well represented at the top of the rankings for the second straight year, two firms that were not in the top ten in Vault's 2013 ratings – BDO USA LLP and McGladrey LLP – were listed fifth and seventh, respectively, for 2014.
 
"Our ability to care for clients' needs begins with our ability to care for our employees' needs," Katie Lamkin, national human resources leader for McGladrey, says in a written statement. "We understand the importance of providing employees with a workplace where they want to build their careers. We are pleased that the 2014 Vault Accounting 50 survey results verify that our efforts are helping our employees provide clients with the exceptional service they need to achieve success."
 
Also, seven firms – including Burr Pilger Mayer Inc., Cohen & Co., and Hein & Associates – that were not rated in the 2013 Vault Accounting 50 cracked the top fifty in 2014. 
 
Curtis Burr, CEO of Burr Pilger Mayer in San Francisco, told AccountingWEB that he was unaware that Vault ranked his firm forty-fifth for 2014.
 
"The Bay Area has changed remarkably; we're competing with firms that weren't here five years ago," he adds. "So the area is much more competitive, and we've done a very good job of being a sustainable, competitive firm during that time."
 
Randy Myeroff, CEO of Cleveland-based Cohen & Co., which was ranked thirty-seventh, says his firm has worked very hard in recent years to attract talent and clients. 
 
"We have great clients because of the great people who work here," Myeroff told AccountingWEB. "We compete all day long; it's our culture. But we never lose focus on what's important in life – families, employees, and relationships. Things are really good for us right now, and we're thrilled to be listed in the Vault Accounting 50. It's fantastic."
 
Denver-based Hein & Associates, which was ranked forty-seventh, has created a culture that its employees can be proud of and have fun working in, according to Managing Partner Brian Mandell-Rice.
 
"We focus on great client service, open communication, the continuous growth of our people, and strong camaraderie. Overall, we think it's a pretty great place to be," he told AccountingWEB.
 
The rankings are a result of Vault's annual accounting survey, which was conducted earlier this year. The survey asked more than 7,900 accountants of all levels to assess their peer accounting firms on a scale of one to ten based on prestige. Survey respondents were unable to rate their own employers and were asked to rate only firms with which they were familiar.
 
Accountants were also asked to rate their own firm in various quality of life categories, such as:
  • Compensation
  • Diversity
  • Firm culture
  • Hours
  • Overall satisfaction
  • Training
  • Work/life balance
  • Benefits
  • Leadership
  • Green initiatives
  • Internal mobility
  • Philanthropy
"We are thrilled to be ranked among the most prestigious firms in the profession. This award demonstrated our commitment to provide outstanding career paths for our employees," Hang Bower, executive director of human resources at BDO USA, says in a written statement. "The Vault rankings are especially gratifying as [they use] employee surveys as a key component of the evaluation process."
 
Vault used a weighted formula that combined a firm's prestige and quality of life ratings, which created an overall "best-to-work-for" ranking.
 
For the first time, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) was ranked first in the 2014 Vault Accounting 50. The New York–based Big Four firm was also ranked the most prestigious firm for the fifth straight year. 
 
"PwC has long been known as the most prestigious accounting firm to work for, but it has also been known as a grueling place to work," Derek Loosvelt, Vault's senior finance editor, says in a written statement. "However, in recent years, the firm has put a lot of effort toward improving the quality of life of its employees, and this year's rankings prove that PwC's workplace initiatives have been working. The firm significantly outranked its Big Four peers in a majority of Vault's quality of life categories – and even outranked many of its midsized competitors, which historically have been known as very congenial places to work."
 
The other Big Four firms – Deloitte LLP, Ernst & Young LLP, and KPMG LLP – were ranked second, fourth, and sixth, respectively.
 
First-place winners in the Vault accounting quality of life rankings include: 
  • Rothstein Kass – work/life balance, firm culture, overall satisfaction, benefits, internal mobility, hours, supervisor relationships, leadership, informal training, green initiatives
  • Berdon LLP – compensation, diversity for individuals with disabilities, diversity for minorities 
  • WithumSmith+Brown PC – promotion policy, philanthropy
  • Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP – travel requirements, diversity for women 
  • Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP – client interaction, hiring process
  • PwC – business outlook, formal training, diversity for LGBT, diversity for veterans, overall diversity

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