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Is a Small Firm or a Large Firm Right for Me?

Have you given any thought to whether you want to work with a large or a small accounting firm?

There is actually a huge difference in how both are run and what type of interaction you have. Neither is necessarily better overall, but depending on what you value, you may want to look for one specific option.

Think of it like a bank. Many people prefer large banks because they know they will have 24/7 call centers for customer service and easy access to online banking. Some prefer small banks where you know the name of the branch manager and can swing by on the way home from the market. No one is wrong, but you have to know what you prefer.

So, what exactly is a large vs small firm? Accounting firms can have one accountant all the way up to hundreds of thousands. I consider smaller firms to be less than 15-20 employees. That is probably not the industry definition, but that is the point where you start to see a change in how the firm is run.

Large firms offer fantastic resources, competitive salaries for top talent, and many levels of review on deliverables. However, I have heard stories from business owners that these large firms also tend to make clients feel lost in the shuffle, do not respond as timely to emails or do not offer much proactive communication.

Conversely, small firms often offer more personal and direct service, which many small business clients prefer as they are growing. Chances are the person you are speaking with on a discovery meeting actually in the accountant working on your account. With the right processes and systems in place, small firms can operate efficiently, but when they are busy, they may have less people to rely on.

In summary, more accountants can mean more knowledge and resources, but it can also mean more risk. Of course, these observations are general notes based on feedback we have received from clients and business owners.

What we recommend is listing on paper the things you value in an accountant. For example:

  • Communication

  • Accessibility

  • Responsiveness

  • Tax Knowledge

  • Speed

  • Quality

  • Location

  • Digital Adoption

Make a list and grade different firms on your top priorities. This will help bring clarity as to what size firm makes sense for you.


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