INSIDE Public Accounting Releases the 20th Annual Top 100 Firms List…

INSIDE Public Accounting is pleased to present the 20th annual report on the nation’s Top 100 accounting firms. IPA’s independent rankings are among the longest-running, most accurate and up-to-date of the nation’s largest accounting firms.

Strategy drives tactics. Tactics drive headlines. The headline this year focuses on the ability of the IPA Top 100 to move, pivot, change and adapt. Throughout the country, strategic discussions took place among owners to figure out how to react to the challenging economy and how to best position their firms for success once a recovery begins.

“TIGHTEN THE BELT!” was the battle cry for most. But beyond that, strategies were as varied as the firms that pursued them.

How do we preserve partner compensation? Scale back or get rid of unproductive owners, as 16% reported. How do we shore up the bottom line? Reduce staff, as 60% reported, or close some offices, as 18% reported. How do we demonstrate leadership and protect the staff? Require partners to take pay cuts while keeping staff pay neutral, as 35% reported. How do we remain independent and grow? Merge in smaller firms, as 20% reported. How do we compete at the highest levels? Re-brand with an international presence, as New York City-based WeiserMazars did, or create a merger of equals, as Reading, Pa.-based Beard Miller Company and Philadelphia-based Parente Randolph did. Merge with larger Top 100 firms, as both Vienna, Va.-based Beers + Cutler, and Boston-based Caturano and Company did. News on the street is there are more Top 100 mergers in the works.

As a group, the IPA Top 100 had come to expect double-digit growth in revenue and income for most of this (past) decade. Now, regardless if you are on the East Coast, West Coast or in the center of the country, flat is good. Maintaining revenue, income and compensation was the target during the past year. Average equity partner compensation for these firms drifted downward to a still-respectable $537,253. Thirty-five (35) firms reported a drop in equity partner compensation this past year.

Most are very optimistic about the future. After belt-tightening, thinning out less productive staff and partners, and making the proper integration of systems and processes from mergers over the past few years, firms are poised for a quick recovery. Having learned the hard lessons of the Great Recession, IPA Top 100 firms are better prepared for the future and are eagerly awaiting the turnaround to a stronger world economy.

The full list will be in the mail today! Thank you to all survey participants for assisting us in this endeavor. Over 380 firms participated this year, and in September, IPA will unveil the first annual ranking of the “Beyond the IPA Top 100”, those key firms ranking from 101-200.