How Much Does An Accountant Cost? The Big 4 Comparison

published on 21 April 2023

How much should you pay for your next accounting talent? If you are leading an accounting firm you have probably encountered some problems finding skilled candidates and are now wondering how much should you raise your offer.

With competition for skilled accountants increasing, it's crucial to have a solid understanding of the current state of the industry and what the future may hold for accounting professionals. That's why we're taking a closer look at the accounting salaries offered by the Big 4 firms, the standard benchmark for accounting positions.

So, let's dive into the world of accounting salaries and explore strategies for finding and retaining the best accounting professionals for your firm.

The Rise Of Accounting Salaries In The U.S.

The accounting industry in the United States is experiencing a surge in salaries and bonuses as companies and firms struggle to recruit and retain Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). With record turnover and staff shortages, some roles have seen salary offers increase by as much as 25% in recent months. However, while increasing pay has helped to address some of the recruitment challenges, industry experts suggest that it may not be enough to alleviate the national shortage of accountants.

Despite the challenges, finance and accounting professionals remain in high demand, with Randstad USA reporting that they continue to dominate the labor market. Roles such as financial analysts, staff accountants, accounting managers, controllers, and payroll coordinators/clerks are particularly sought after. However, firms are grappling with a range of issues that impact their operations, including increased regulation and global complexity, shifting workforces, and growing demand for value-added services.

The Big 4 in the Accounting Industry

The Big 4 in the Accounting Industry
The Big 4 in the Accounting Industry

When it comes to accounting salaries, the Big 4 firms - Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG - are often used as a benchmark for comparison. These four firms are the largest professional services firms in the world, offering a wide range of services including audit, tax, advisory, and consulting services.

Deloitte, PwC, and EY are based primarily in London, while KPMG's headquarters is located in Amsterdam. Combined, the Big Four employed almost 1.5 million people worldwide in 2022

These companies are also known for offering attractive salaries and benefits packages to their employees, often setting the standard for compensation in the accounting industry. They have a significant impact on the industry as a whole, attracting top accounting talent and setting the tone for compensation in the field. We will try to analyze their offerings to gain insights into the current state of accounting salaries and trends in the industry as a whole.

Look for potential candidates. 
Look for potential candidates. 

How much should you pay to stay competitive?

In the face of these challenges, companies and firms are finding innovative ways to attract and retain top talent. Increasing salaries and bonuses seem to be the better strategy as the war for talent in the accounting industry shows no signs of abating, but with a focus on innovation and adaptability, firms can continue to thrive.

Let’s see how much The Big 4 is paying to:

  • Financial Analysts
  • Senior Accountants
  • Tax Analysts
  • Tax Managers

#1 Financial Analyst:

Financial analysts focus on financial data analysis for investment decisions. They may work for banks, investment firms, or other financial institutions.


#2 Tax Analyst:

Tax analysts prepare tax returns and ensure compliance with tax laws. They may work for accounting firms, corporations, or government agencies.


#3 Senior Accountant:

Senior accountants are responsible for managing financial records, preparing financial statements, and overseeing the accounting department. They may also be responsible for managing a team of accountants and ensuring compliance with accounting regulations. This is why they are typically required more seniority or experience than financial analysts.


#4 Tax Manager:

A tax manager is responsible for managing the tax department, overseeing the preparation of tax returns, and ensuring compliance with tax laws and regulations. This is one of the most skilled and senior positions in accounting firms.


South American Alternative for Lower-Cost Positions

While increasing salaries and bonuses can be a strategy to meet staffing demand, accounting firms still face challenges in filling their positions, despite offering competitive compensation packages that include training, flexible working arrangements, and technology tools to support their workforce.

So, what can you do to expand your pool of candidates and lower hiring costs? Hiring remotely is one of the best ways to achieve this. By doing so, you can not only save money on office expenses but also access a wider range of candidates from around the world.

Many accounting professionals in South America and Europe are offering their services remotely at fees well below the US average. This presents an opportunity for firms to access a more competitive pricing model while also gaining access to a wider range of professionals.


Final Thoughts

As the hiring market becomes increasingly competitive, it's important to explore innovative ways to fill open positions. From creating a positive company culture and offering competitive salaries and benefits to implementing innovative hiring practices. Remote and offshore hiring can help your accounting firm to tap into a larger pool of talent from all over the world, without the limitations of geography from countries with lower labor costs, which can help save expenses while still maintaining a high level of talent.

Remember, finding the right people is just the first step - it's equally important to provide ongoing training, support, and development opportunities to help your employees reach their full potential and contribute to your company's success.

Look for potential candidates. 
Look for potential candidates. 

Kevin Mitchell, CPA

Senior Manager and CPA with over 20 years of experience in accounting and financial services, specializing in risk management and regulatory compliance. Skilled in managing audits and leading teams to deliver exceptional services. Proud father of two.

🔗 Kevin Mitchell | LinkedIn


2023 finance and accounting salary guide for employers. (n.d.). 2023 Finance & Accounting | Randstad USA.

Big Four: employee numbers 2022 | Statista. (n.d.). Statista.

Salaries and fees:

I. (2022, September 28). Accounting and Finance Salaries Increasing, Says Report. CPA Practice Advisor.

Maurer, M. (2023, April 20). Accountants’ Salaries Are Rising, but It May Not Add Up to More Accountants  WSJ.

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