Accounting Firm vs CPA Firm: What’s the Difference?

accounting firm

Full-service accounting firms often have access to more sophisticated tools and software than smaller businesses, which can further improve accuracy and efficiency. The merger will allow BDO to expand its operations in both Pittsburgh and Florida. Ultimately, the firm specializes in audit, tax, and advisory services but has much more to offer its clients. This creates the complication that smaller firms have no way to compete well enough to make it into the top end of the market.

  • An accounting firm is a group of accounting professionals that provides clients with financial management services.
  • Therefore, you should try and canvas colleges for recruiting opportunities as well as visiting firms to inquire about becoming a volunteer or intern.
  • Websites, social media, and various other online presences are a great way to establish credibility in the market.
  • In addition, to online tools, the firm also offers in-person classes, seminars, and symposiums that may also offer CPE’s.
  • Success here starts with your firm doing some strategic planning around the product and service offering you currently provide and looking for new opportunities to augment it.

However, they may still be required to adhere to certain standards, such as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) or international financial reporting standards (IFRS). In 2021, PwC reported annual revenue of $45.1 billion, the second highest amount for Big Four firms but only up 2% (in its local currency) from the year prior. Revenue in the United States remained flat, though PwC is currently investing $12 billion to add 100,000 new jobs over the next five years to strengthen its global presence. We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.

Starting an Accounting Firm: A Step-by-Step Guide

In many cases, each member firm practices in a single country, and is structured to comply with the regulatory environment in that country. Websites, social media, and various other online presences are a great way to establish credibility in the market. While the circumstances of what your incorporation looks like will depend on your approach, it is considered a best practice to become incorporated right off the bat due to the legal protections it provides. No doubt you have plenty of questions about how to set up a new firm and get off to a great start.

Many accountants have experience and skills that make them particularly well-suited to business niches. Tax software vendor Canopy describes the importance to accounting firms of establishing a personal relationship with small business owners. Accountants and other professionals are increasingly choosing to work independently rather than as employees.

Step 7: Fund your Business

The company was indicted for obstruction of justice for shredding documents related to the audit of Enron. The resulting conviction, although later overturned, doomed Arthur Andersen, because most clients dropped the firm, and the company was not allowed to take on new clients while they were under investigation. None of the “firms” within the Big Four is actually a single firm; rather, they are professional services networks. Each network has established a global entity to co-ordinate the activities of the network. An accounting firm can do almost everything a CPA firm can do with one exception – audits and assurance services.

In the aftermath of the collapse, the company was found guilty of criminal charges relating to its business practices. This is a good thing because having your certification will help you get job opportunities and promotions that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Also all three colleges will give you access to the best CPA review courses, so you can properly prepare for the CPA exam. Once you’ve identified your ideal position in the accounting world, the next step is to get your education. In addition, to online tools, the firm also offers in-person classes, seminars, and symposiums that may also offer CPE’s. Although they have continued to grow over the years and remain in the big 4, this jump was a welcome reprieve from previous years slow growth rates and lower revenues.


This is a very difficult four-part test, with additional school credits, and real world experience required. Like Deloitte, PwC has maintained a steady growth in revenue over the past 10 years. In fact, PwC’s gross numbers are challenging Deloitte for the top spot. The difference is that their program is online, free, and available to the public. Those who are looking to earn CPE credits (Continuing Professional Education) can do so on the PwC Open University website.

  • Your location and your goals will determine cost in several ways, including whether you want to start a traditional brick and mortar firm or are looking to create a virtual office environment.
  • Depth, expertise and value to clients across a multitude of traditional and untraditional services.
  • With an hourly fee, this means having to take on more clients to maintain (and hopefully increase) your profits.
  • Accountants provide tremendous value to businesses, individuals, and families, which is why it’s a $120 billion industry in the US alone.
  • When determining a fee structure, many accountants call other firms and ask for quotes.
  • Advisory services are a relatively new professional role provided by some accounting firms, but they are quickly becoming essential.

Sure, you could try to do some of the work yourself, but you’ll be taking time away from your core competencies, tasks, and goals. By leaving the accounting work to the professionals, you can focus on what you do best. To start a remote accounting firm, you will need to set up a virtual office with the necessary hardware, software, and communication tools to manage client accounts remotely. This may include cloud-based accounting software, document management systems, video conferencing platforms, and secure file sharing tools.


Moore Stephens UK is headquartered in London and holds the tenth spot on the top 20 list of firms. They are headquartered in London and hold more than 550 offices in over 100 countries. Competition among these firms intensified, Independent Contractor Agreement for Accountants and Bookkeepers and the Big Eight became the Big Six in 1989. In that year, Ernst & Whinney merged with Arthur Young to form Ernst & Young in June, and Deloitte, Haskins & Sells merged with Touche Ross to form Deloitte & Touche in August.

accounting firm