Intro – AdvisoryHQ News’s Selection Methodology for Accounting Firms

Traditional selection methodologies used for ranking accounting firms are normally focused on total annual fee income, firm size, number of partners, and fees generated by the accounting firm.

To generate a more reflective ranking, AdvisoryHQ went beyond fees, firm size, total earners, and total revenue. We developed the below breakthrough “Accounting Firm Selection Methodology” that is based on the quality of services provided by the firm and not how much the partners make or bring in. 

Note: AdvisoryHQ reviews and ranks accounting companies only. We do not rank/review accounting professionals. 

AdvisoryHQ’s Objective Approach

Unlike other ranking companies that require a fee from the firms being reviewed, AdvisoryHQ does not charge anyone for the accounting firm rankings and reviews that we publish. 

Accounting companies do not even realize they are being reviewed until after our reviews have been completed and published to the public. Consumers, organizations, accountancies, and financial advisors appreciate the objective structure utilized by AdvisoryHQ. 

Here is a comment from Nathan Kubik (CIMA®, CPWA®), a Principal at Carnick & Kubik, a top rated wealth management firm: 

“It’s exciting to see a completely independent ranking company! Seems like most ranking companies now require a fee to be on their review list, which to me, makes their rankings worthless. I appreciate AdvisoryHQ’s objective review!

Here is a media release from Sunrise Advisors regarding AdvisoryHQ:

“We feel privileged to be a part of this elite group of firms ranked by AdvisoryHQ, it makes it even more meaningful that advisory firms were not able to influence AdvisoryHQ’s rankings in any way. We weren’t even aware of our consideration by AdvisoryHQ until we were notified of our selection. With too many rankings or reviews based on a single metric (like firm size) or coming as a result of ‘pay-to-play’ advertising swaps, AdvisoryHQ’s process is importantly unbiased, objective, and consumer-centric”.

Selecting Top Accounting Firms - AdvisoryHQ’s Objective Approach

Image source: Big Stock

AdvisoryHQ’s Value Proposition

Studies from American Lifestyles, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, and other consumer trends show that the average consumers goes online to search and review accounting firms before deciding on which accountancy to use.

Specifically, American Lifestyles Magazine, which publishes annual trends in consumerism reported that consumers not only use the Internet to stay connected with family and friends, but 69% of them seek out reviews and opinions on services before deciding to use a company. 

Finding a top-notch accounting firm in the U.S., U.K., Canada or Australia can be a daunting undertaking, especially when a consumer is unfamiliar with the accounting services landscape. AdvisoryHQ is committed to simplifying the research that consumers conduct before choosing an accounting company or accountant. 

We concentrate on conducting detailed reviews and publishing these reviews for free for anyone seeking a top-performing accounting firm.

Selection Methodology for Identifying and Finalizing Lists of Top Ranking Accountancies

Step 1: Develop a Comprehensive List

Using publicly available sources, AdvisoryHQ identifies a wide range of chartered accountancies and accounting firms that are providing services in a designated area, city, state, country or geographical location.

Step 2: Apply Initial Threshold Filters

After developing a comprehensive list of accounting firms, AdvisoryHQ then applies the initial methodology filters below to narrow down the list of accounting firms. 

Initial Filters:

  • Resource Availability
  • Customized Services
  • Experience Level
  • Transparency
  • Value-Added Services
  • Scale of Services
  • Staying Relevant
  • Quality of the Accounting Firm’s Website
  • Open Door Policy

Resource Availability

An accountancy firm’s greatest asset is its dedicated team of accountants, auditors, tax planners, and business support specialists.

One of the first dimensions we review as part of our methodology selection is the number of “available” accountants and business support professionals.

A company with an adequate amount of staff (per total client base) will have the necessary bandwidth to provide the right level of accounting support to its clients.

Customized Services

The level and scale of flexibility in providing customized accounting services is another criterion used in our analytical logic. We favor accountancy firms that provide services that are tailored toward each client’s unique circumstances.

Experience Level

In addition to the number of available accounting resources, we also considered the combined experience level of the accounting team, including years of experience, industry certifications, and leading roles within the accounting field of expertise.

An accounting team with a broad level of expertise and extensive years of experience will have the appropriate skillset to deal with a wide range of client accounting, tax, audit, and other accounting related issues.


Our selection methodology favors firms whose fees are completely transparent. Before beginning any work, your accounting firm should be able to disclose their fee structure to you, this way there are no surprises or hidden fees.

Value-Added Services

The cheapest service available may not always be the most efficient or the best option available. As part of our selection methodology, we focus on accounting firms that do a lot more than just taking care of the numbers.

We favor accountants that have a well-defined approach for providing value-added services. An example of a value-added mentality involves a firm that works alongside its clients as an integral part of each client’s business team, rather than just being a “numbers” cruncher and earning a fee.

Scale of Services

Our selection methodology favors firms that provide a full range of accountancy, audit, tax, booking, corporate, and business support services. A broad level of expertise is highly essential in supporting clients throughout every stage of the client’s personal, business and organizational growth.

Staying Relevant

The relationship with an accounting, tax, and business advisor normally ends up being a long-term relationship. As such, it is essential to seek firms that are constantly improving their services and business practices and staying up-to-date on industry requirements and standards.

Our selection logic is designed to favor such types of accountancy, as well as firms whose strategy includes staying up-to-date with sector-specific rules and regulations.

Quality of the Accounting Firm’s Website

Consumers like to review an accounting firm’s website in detail before contacting that company.

A poorly developed website or a site that does not provide an adequate amount of essential information is, sometimes, a telling sign of the low-level type of service that a client might end up receiving.

As such, we considered the ease of use, graphical design, functionality level, and level of informational details on a firm’s website as part of our methodology.

Open Door Policy

We also favored accounting firms that emphasized an open door policy. An open door policy encourages clients to ask questions and get to know the accounting team and staff.

Such accounting firms will actively encourage you to contact them throughout the year before you make major accounting decisions or whenever you have accounting needs.

Step 3: Deep Dive Assessment 

After trimming down our initial list using our initial methodology filters, we then conduct a deep dive assessment of the remaining accounting firms to select our final list of top accounting companies.

Step 4: Generating the Final List of Top Accountants

Based on the results of our assessment, we then select the individuals and entities that make it into our list of the top accounting firms. After publishing our reviews to the public, we then notify the accounting firms of their selection and ranking.

As mentioned above, accounting firms  do not even realize they are being reviewed until after our reviews have been completed and published. This is to ensure an absolute level of objectivity in our reviews.

Scale of AdvisoryHQ’s Methodology Selection Factors

Please note that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of possible factors, filters, and selection criteria that can be applied to any ranking and rating selection across any industry. It is nearly impossible for any ranking or review company to accommodate all possible selection filters when developing a selection methodology. The selection filters outlined above are the only selection filters that we currently accommodate. 

AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.