A whopping 82% of all businesses are failing because of inadequate or negative cash flow management. These alarming stats prove that the need for accounting solutions in today’s rapidly changing market is undeniable. Finding the right firm, however, is just as time-consuming and stressful as correcting your amateur accounting mistakes at the end of the year. To put an end to these woes, we’ve ranked the leading accounting firms using a custom-developed evaluation methodology. Scroll down to discover the best players in the field, along with actionable tips for hiring the right one for your business.
To source the best options for you, we developed a manual evaluation methodology that involves examining the companies from every aspect. We researched both technical, and social issues, including expertise, certifications, specialized industry knowledge, the scope of services as well as client satisfaction and company culture. We further tracked the success of each firm and examined the value of the money they provide.
As you can see below, we dig deeper and evaluate each firm in detail to ensure that you get a curated list of 2020’s absolute best companies.
To keep up with the rapidly changing marketplace, accounting firms offer a spectrum of services that range from merely maintaining business records accurately to providing industry-specialized financial strategies.
Considering both the general and specific accounting needs of businesses, we made sure to source agencies that offer not only traditional accounting support but can navigate clients through challenges and opportunities.
As the old saying goes, taxes are one of life’s few certainties. Preparing your tax, however, may be costing you more in the long run due to the complexity of the process, possible mistakes, missed deadlines, and financial penalties.
Accounting companies can bear some of your tax burden throughout the year, preparing you physically, mentally, and financially for what’s to come. In addition to drafting state and federal tax returns, accountants prepare year-end business documents, such as IRS owner K-1, employee W-2, and 1099-Misc forms. If you don’t want to deal with any stage of the tax process on your own, you can authorize a certified accountant to represent your business interests regarding notices, information requests, or audits from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Tax planning should save your business as much money as possible. Some basic strategies include lowering your AGI (adjusted gross income), taking advantage of tax credits, and leveraging tax deductions. Accounting agencies may also help you estimate your tax and set aside part of your income for payments each month, as well as make sure you are keeping up with the country’s tax regulations, requirements, and deadlines.
We presented ourselves as clients to examine the tax planning capabilities of each firm on this list. We further verified the effectiveness of their services by reading reviews from past and present customers. We made sure to include companies that go beyond compliance and can develop proactive tax strategies. All of the accounting firms ranked on this list are up to date with the latest tax laws and regulations. Additionally, they can spot opportunities to reduce your tax liability as your business grows, allowing you to retain higher profits.
Handling bookkeeping and payroll by yourself takes valuable time that you could use to focus on higher priority tasks. In both cases, you need to be aware of current rules and regulations, provide error-free data, manage timely paycheck delivery, resolve issues, etc. Hiring a full or part-time bookkeeper and payroll person might seem like a good idea until you calculate the costs and investment of training to prepare the person for the role.
Bookkeeping firms, therefore, might be your best bet, especially if you are a small business owner. Having a skilled team take over recording, storing, and retrieving financial transactions as well as process payroll records will free up time in your schedule.
We sourced companies that offer software solutions, including implementation and optimization, in handling the entire bookkeeping and payroll processes quickly, effectively, and accurately. Their services cover billing records, tax reporting, bank reconciliations, general ledger, payroll processing at regular intervals, and preparation of financial statements.
Accounting firms should be able to look at previous years' revenues, financial records, and growth patterns to determine the value of your company, and provide accurate reports. Knowing how much your business is worth comes in handy in the case of selling, merging, seeking additional investors, or applying for a loan.
We checked each company that provides valuation services, verifying whether they are in line with the best industry practices to ensure their internal value tactics and procedures are consistent with the most recent pronouncements. Next, we examined the scope and accuracy of their valuation strategies. We gave a higher ranking to companies that offer deep valuation expertise in various industries.
When investors, banks, and other financial institutions make decisions, you want to make sure you give them the most accurate information about your business. Financial statements audited by respected accounting companies give investors and lenders the confidence to support you.
We, therefore, gave higher rankings to firms that offer a wide range of auditing services, from simple preparations and audits of financial statements to employee benefit plan audits, internal audits, public company audits, international audits, and more.
Next, we checked reviews and contacted the past clients of these accounting agencies to determine their expertise and quality of service. Most importantly, we examined whether their auditing services meet the industry’s highest technical and ethical standards, as well as comply with financial reporting regulations. Each company on our list uses a nationally implemented audit methodology to present an accurate picture of the financial position of the business.
Similar to New Year’s resolutions, financial goals are easier said than done. Having a realistic financial strategy can help you bridge the gap between what you desire and what you can accomplish in reality. Accounting firms that offer consulting services can build actionable financial plans by identifying your business’ strengths and weaknesses.
We examined the firms’ scope of consulting services and the depth of expertise, including industry knowledge. From identifying potential risks to introducing ways to drive higher ROI, these agencies can create personalized and flexible solutions to amplify your performance. We researched whether the consulting services have helped past clients overcome challenges and create additional value to shortlist the companies capable of guiding businesses towards success.
Accounting firms are one of the best sources to turn to for business advice since they understand the area you operate in and your overall financial position. They can use this knowledge to develop personalized long-term strategies that focus on stabilization and growth while keeping you up to date with the latest changes in the business and regulatory environment.
These professionals offer strategic solutions to help you boost your bottom line, integrate sustainable changes, maximize the use of technology, strengthen finance operations, trim costs, identify your insurance needs and make better financial decisions. If you want to optimize your overall performance and ROI, this list will help you find the top accounting companies with expertise in management consulting.
We perform a detailed examination of the company’s reputation to make sure your finances are in good hands. We start by checking whether the outfit meets the industry’s ethical standards and if it follows the latest regulations. We also go through reviews and reliable accounting sources to determine the level of customer satisfaction. After verifying the authenticity of the reviews, we take notice of any areas of excellence.
We also track the virtual presence of each company, including websites, social media accounts, and trusted business directories, to ensure their depth of expertise and identify any issues that the firm failed to address.
Lastly, we tap into a network of reliable business sources to discover which companies come highly referred by peers and clients. We made sure to include only the best accounting firms that were never involved in accounting scandals and frauds.
Certifications are one of the critical factors in our ranking. They bring an extra level of credibility, and expertise, since the individual that holds them has undergone rigorous training, passed examinations, met statutory and licensing requirements, and gained relevant experience. That’s why we check whether the accounting and bookkeeping companies have certified accountants. If not, we check whether they are considering certifications in the future.
There are many accounting certifications out there that can bring added value to the firm. Some of the most popular include Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Financial Analysis (CFA), and Chartered Global Management Accountant(CGMA), and Enrolled Agent (EA).
Note that you might not need a certified accountant for every aspect of your business. Still, only CPAs, EAs and tax attorneys are authorized to sign tax returns and represent taxpayers before the IRS for audits and other matters.
Before you entrust your finances to a firm, you need to know how much it will cost you. Most of the leading accounting service companies charge by the hour with average rates ranging from $50 to $250. Some firms charge on a monthly retainer allowing you to know the costs in advance.
It’s best to discuss fees with different accountants before making a final decision. Don’t base your choice solely on the price since a firm that charges higher rates is likely to provide better expertise and service than a novice that would cost less.
We are looking for firms that fall within the industry standards and provide the best value for your accounting money. We didn’t choose the cheapest or the priciest companies, but the most cost-effective.
Now that you have the top firms laid out in front of you along with a detailed explanation of our evaluation methodology, you might be wondering which one is the best for your business.
Take a look at these actionable tips that will lead you to the right choice.
First things first, define the services you need from an accountant. For instance, if you’re after basic bookkeeping and accounting support, it makes little sense to pay CPAs’ steep hourly rates. If you, however, require specialized services such as financial and management consulting, financial statement preparation and audits, risk management, and valuation, it’s better to hire a well-versed company with a team of certified experts. Shortlist the top accounting firms based on your unique needs.
Having defined the services you need, think about how much you are willing to spend on them. A reasonable budget range is one of the most efficient ways to narrow down your potential choices, scrapping the outfits whose services would cost more than what you’re comfortable with.
You’ll most likely see or talk with your accountant quite often. This means that a cultural alignment between you and the company you are hiring is a must. Opt for accounting companies that offer a personalized approach, seamless communication, and enjoyable collaboration. Also, be sure that the people you are meeting are the ones that will be handling your business. Some agencies split or pass the work to others, which might not result in a satisfactory experience.
One of the key things to consider when hiring an accounting professional is their industry expertise. We have included the industry focus in our accounting firms ranking to help you quickly shortlist the companies that excel in your area of operation. We, however, strongly advise asking each potential outfit about their current clients and their experience in your field.
Ideally, you want to find a firm that is familiar with your industry or individual situation, as this means they will have the experience to provide strategies and solutions that work. For instance, an accountant that understands your industry will be familiar with what you can claim on you tax return. In this case, they can come up with a strategy that will maximize your savings.
Before making the final choice, consider whether you want a local accounting firm that you could visit personally, or if you are open to hiring a firm in any location as long as it provides the services you need. With all the advantages of the digital age, you no longer have to limit your choices to local outfits.
That said, for small businesses with a locally-oriented target audience, someone located in the community they serve will most likely give better advice than a global company on the other side of the world. Since each state has different tax requirements and regulations, accounting firms within your borders might be the best option. Depending on your needs and position, decide whether proximity is more important than expertise.