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Vault’ s Careers Blog is Moving

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An announcement: after almost a year on WordPress, we’re discontinuing Vault’s Careers Blog on WordPress. But don’t worry: you’ll still be able to get your fill of career information and advice on Vault.com–where our blogs are going from strength to strength.

Our full blog lineup on Vault.com is as follows:

Vault’s Careers Blog
Vault’s Law Blog
Consult THIS: Consulting Careers, News and Views
In Good Company: Vault’s CSR blog
In the Black: Vault’s Finance Careers Blog
Admit One: Vault’s MBA, Law School and College Blog
Insider Career Advice from SixFigureStart
Innovate with Influence: Global High Tech

Thanks for reading us on WordPress.

We hope to see you over on Vault.com soon!

–The Vault Editorial Team

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Unveiling the Top-25 Most Prestigious IT Consulting Firms

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As explained last week, our primary IT consulting ranking this year is a composite score that takes into account both quality of life rankings (as determined by a firm’s own consultants’ votes) and prestige rankings (or, outsiders’ rankings of consulting firms other than their own). Both sides of the equation are critical to choosing an ideal employer. But when selecting an employer, a good first impression of the company is to gauge how outsiders view its reputation in the industry. This is why the Vault prestige ranking is such an integral tool for job seekers.

Respondents to this year’s Vault IT Consulting Survey were asked to rate each consulting firm in the survey on a scale from 1 to 10 based on prestige, with 10 being the most prestigious. Consultants were unable to rate their own firm, and they were asked to rate only those firms with which they were familiar. Vault collected the survey results and averaged the score for each firm. The firms were then ranked, with the highest score being No. 1, down to No. 25. Remember that Vault’s top-25 most prestigious IT consulting firms are chosen by practicing consultants at top consulting firms. Vault does not choose or influence these rankings. The rankings measure perceived prestige (as determined by consulting professionals) and not revenue, size or lifestyle.

All in all, our prestige list provides a comprehensive roadmap of who’s who in the IT consulting industry—ranging from big tech consulting shops to smaller, niche firms, and spanning a vast swath of expertise. Without further ado, check out this year’s top-25 most prestigious IT consulting firms!

Oh, and stay tuned next Tuesday for our release of specific practice area rankings!

Written by A.A. Somebody

October 20, 2010 at 10:25 am

Where the Women Aren’t: The Banking C-Suite

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October is Carl Paladino National Diversity Month, so we decided to go back to the data we collected in our most recent Banking Survey and see if we couldn’t find a few fitting pieces to offer up in honor of these holy 31 days.

First, what we found, unsurprisingly, is a marked lack of women in the banking workplace. Somewhat surprising, though, was that this lack of women increases as you go up the banking org chart. That is, as you’ll see in the graphic below, of those bankers surveyed, 26 percent identified themselves as women. But of those surveyed who hold executive positions, only 11 percent identified themselves as women. The takeaway here is that females are still underrepresented at the top financial firms, and are severely underrepresented in the higher ranks at the top financial firms.

Vault.com 2010 banking diversity gender

Second we found (again unsurprisingly) that the ethnic group that accounts for most (almost three quarters) of the entire banking industry is none other than the white male. However, interestingly, we found that the white male is far better represented in the banking industry than it is in the general population—almost 10 percent greater as you can see in the graphic below. In addition, Asians, the second largest ethnic group in banking, are also far better represented in the industry than they are in the wider U.S. population—about three times greater, in fact. On the other side of this diversity story, Hispanic individuals and African-Americans are severely underrepresented in the banking industry versus their representation in the wider population.

 

Vault.com ethnic diversity of finance industry 2010

Third, we found a large lack of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individuals in banking. Given that banking is perhaps one of, if not the most politically conservative industries in the United States, this might not come as that much of a surprise, but still, you would think that the lack might not be as significant as the pie chart below indicates: just 1 percent of the more than 2,200 bankers surveyed had identified themselves as an openly GLBT individual. Which begs the question: are GLBT individuals not welcome into the banking industry, not interested in the industry, or both?

Vault.com 2010 banking diversity GLBT

–Posted by Derek Loosvelt, In The Black

The Vault IT Consulting 25 is Here!

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This year, we’ve taken our consulting rankings a step further. Instead of simply listing out the top firms based on perceived prestige in the industry, we’ve gone out and asked consultants what matters most to them in choosing an employer. What they told us was that prestige alone is not a determining factor. Rather, the single most important issue when choosing a consulting firm is company culture (43 percent claimed that culture was most important!), followed by practice strength (14 percent), prestige (11 percent) and compensation (6 percent), among a few other options. We’ve taken this feedback and created a new Vault IT Consulting 25, showcasing the firms that are best to work for. This ranking was compiled using a weighted formula that reflects the issues job seekers care most about. (See below).

Don’t worry, we’ll still be releasing the all-important prestige rankings (check in next Tuesday for the big reveal!), and they do play a big role in the overall Vault IT Consulting 25 rankings. After all, a prestigious firm name puts a sheen on any resume, in addition to affording consultants access to a high caliber of clients and projects. That said, we believe that quality of life issues are at the core of a company’s appeal to job seekers. Let’s face it: In this post-recession era of recovery and growth, it’s a job seeker’s market, and job seekers are looking for a workplace that offers both prestige and an appealing lifestyle. Here’s the formula we used to compile this year’s rankings:

• 25 percent firm culture

• 25 percent work/life balance

• 20 percent compensation

• 20 percent prestige

• 5 percent overall business outlook

• 5 percent transparency

The scores for the first five categories are derived directly from the survey results; all categories except prestige are based on a firm’s own consultants’ feedback about their quality of life, whereas the prestige ranking is based on the perception of outside consultants. (Respondents were not allowed to rank their own firm in the prestige category.) The “transparency” category awards a 5 percent bonus to firms that distributed the survey to their consultants. Firms that did not distribute the survey internally received no points in this category. It is our view that, with increasing expectations of transparency and a free market for information, a company’s willingness to encourage employees to share their experiences externally correlates with a work culture where open feedback and self-criticism are valued—attributes that thousands of job seekers tell us are top priorities in searching for a new employer.

Stay tuned next week for the long-awaited prestige rankings!

The Vault IT Consulting 25 is here!

leave a comment »


This year, we’ve taken our consulting rankings a step further. Instead of simply listing out the top firms based on perceived prestige in the industry, we’ve gone out and asked consultants what matters most to them in choosing an employer. What they told us was that prestige alone is not a determining factor. Rather, the single most important issue when choosing a consulting firm is company culture (43 percent claimed that culture was most important!), followed by practice strength (14 percent), prestige (11 percent) and compensation (6 percent), among a few other options. We’ve taken this feedback and created a new Vault IT Consulting 25, showcasing the firms that are best to work for. This ranking was compiled using a weighted formula that reflects the issues job seekers care most about. (See below).

Don’t worry, we’ll still be releasing the all-important prestige rankings (check in next Tuesday for the big reveal!), and they do play a big role in the overall Vault IT Consulting 25 rankings. After all, a prestigious firm name puts a sheen on any resume, in addition to affording consultants access to a high caliber of clients and projects. That said, we believe that quality of life issues are at the core of a company’s appeal to job seekers. Let’s face it: In this post-recession era of recovery and growth, it’s a job seeker’s market, and job seekers are looking for a workplace that offers both prestige and an appealing lifestyle. Here’s the formula we used to compile this year’s rankings:

• 25 percent firm culture

• 25 percent work/life balance

• 20 percent compensation

• 20 percent prestige

• 5 percent overall business outlook

• 5 percent transparency

The scores for the first five categories are derived directly from the survey results; all categories except prestige are based on a firm’s own consultants’ feedback about their quality of life, whereas the prestige ranking is based on the perception of outside consultants. (Respondents were not allowed to rank their own firm in the prestige category.) The “transparency” category awards a 5 percent bonus to firms that distributed the survey to their consultants. Firms that did not distribute the survey internally received no points in this category. It is our view that, with increasing expectations of transparency and a free market for information, a company’s willingness to encourage employees to share their experiences externally correlates with a work culture where open feedback and self-criticism are valued—attributes that thousands of job seekers tell us are top priorities in searching for a new employer.

Stay tuned next week for the long-awaited prestige rankings!

The 50 Most Prestigious Accounting Firms

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For nearly a decade, Vault has been ranking accounting firms in terms of prestige. This year, in our annual Accounting Survey, conducted from April through June, over 2,200 accounting professionals were asked to assess their peer firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on prestige—they were unable to rate their own firm, and were asked to rate only firms with which they were familiar. And for the second straight year, industry insiders named PricewaterhouseCoopers the most prestigious accounting firm in North America. In fact, the top five spots were unchanged from last year’s rankings.

With a score of 8.408, PwC outdistanced fellow Big Four firms Ernst & Young (the No. 2 firm in prestige, with a score of 8.278), Deloitte (No. 3, 8.222) and KPMG (No. 4, 7.732). The highest ranking non-Big Four firm was again Grant Thornton, which took the No. 5 spot with a score of 6.817.

According to surveyed professionals outside PwC, the firm is the “best company of the Big Four in terms of benefits and employee morale.” It’s also “well respected,” has a “favorable public perception” and a “great culture,” and “offers many opportunities” for its staff.  Meanwhile, Ernst & Young, the No. 2 firm for the second year in a row, is said to be the “industry leader,” have “the best talent” and possess a “hardworking,” “intelligent,” “classy” staff.

The big mover this year among the top 10 was BDO Seidman (“a good mid-tier firm, growing in size and market share”), which leaped three spots from No. 9 to No. 6.  Further down the rankings, Clifton Gunderson (a “solid regional”) made a strong move, jumping seven places from No. 19 to No. 12; and Reznick Group (“the ‘fun accountants,’ as opposed to the stereotypical nerdy accountants”) climbed six places from No. 22 to No. 16.

Other significant climbs were made by Dixon Hughes (“big down South”), which rose four spots to No. 21; Novogradac (“a large competitor in the real estate auditing business”), which jumped four places to No. 25; and CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman (“a large, solid firm”), which moved up three spots to No. 23.

The biggest drop in the top 25 came from LarsonAllen (“good firm but lacks work/life balance”), which fell eight places to No. 22.  Other significant falls came from Amper Politziner & Mattia (“a strong competitor” with a “poor working environment”), which slid seven spots to No. 20; and Cherry Bekaert & Holland (“known in the Southeast, yet not considered a competitive firm”), which fell four places to No. 19.

Check out the complete 2011 Vault Accounting Prestige Rankings.

–Posted by Derek Loosvelt, In the Black

The New Vault Accounting 50

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Vault Accounting 50 logoFor nearly the past decade, Vault has released rankings of the top accounting firms in North America, helping students and experienced professionals make more informed career decisions.

When Vault initially began ranking accounting firms, we only ranked firms in terms of prestige—that is, in terms of a firm’s reputation as perceived by professionals at other accounting firms. Later, Vault increased its rankings offerings to include “quality of life categories,” such as firm culture, compensation, hours, management treatment, diversity, training and business outlook, among others. In these categories, firms were rated by their own professionals, as opposed to those at other companies.

In the past, Vault’s main accounting ranking—the ranking featured most prominently on Vault.com and in our annual Guide to the Top 50 Accounting Firms—was our prestige ranking. This year, though, that has changed.

After asking accounting professionals what matters most to them when choosing an employer, they told us, overwhelmingly, that firm culture, as opposed to prestige, is the most important determining factor. In fact, 36 percent of all accounting professionals we surveyed told us that firm culture was most important, while only 11 percent cited prestige as most important. The other top factors cited by survey respondents were: lifestyle/work-balance (14 percent), location (13 percent), compensation (5 percent) and training opportunities (also 5 percent).

As a result, Vault has taken this feedback and created a new Vault Accounting 50, showcasing the firms that are the Best to Work For—a ranking compiled using the following weighted formula that reflects the issues job seekers care about most:

40 percent prestige
20 percent firm culture
10 overall satisfaction
10 compensation
10 hours
10 business outlook

This new Best to Work For ranking will replace the prestige ranking as the featured ranking on Vault.com and in the Vault Guide to the Top 50 Accounting Firms.

This doesn’t mean, however, that we are doing away with the prestige ranking. We still believe prestige to be a very important measure of a firm’s attractiveness to employees, thus the reason prestige makes up 40 percent of our new Best to Work For ranking. In addition, the prestige rankings will still appear prominently on our web site as well as in our annual accounting Guide (and stay tuned: next week, we will unveil our accounting prestige rankings).

And so, without further ado, below are the results of the new Vault Accounting 50:

Our inaugural No. 1 Best to Work For accounting firm is New York-headquartered Deloitte. With a score of 7.538, Deloitte edged out fellow Big Four accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which placed No. 2 with a score of 7.410. Rounding out the top five were Rothstein Kass (6.469) at No. 3, Marcum (6.410) at No. 4 and Dixon Hughes (6.267) at No. 5.

Why Deloitte was No. 1

The battle between Deloitte and PwC was a fierce one: Deloitte handily beat PwC in the areas of overall satisfaction, hours and compensation, but PwC edged out Deloitte in prestige, culture and business outlook. What ultimately made the difference between No. 1 and No. 2 was the margin by which Deloitte topped PricewaterhouseCoopers in the categories in which it bested its rival. Deloitte scored more than one-half point higher than PwC in satisfaction, hours and compensation; meanwhile, PwC scored less than two-tenths of a point higher than Deloitte in prestige, firm culture and business outlook.

Almost unanimously, professionals outside Deloitte say it’s a “very prestigious,” “top of the line” accounting firm filled with “good people” who have a “strong reputation for excellence.” Insiders at the firm are equally as complimentary, and many point to Deloitte’s commitment to training as its best asset. “I believe this is one of the greatest perks about Deloitte,” says one firm insider. “We have amazing training opportunities. We’re even building Deloitte University, which will be the only facility of its type among the big firms.”

Deloitte staff also like that they’re “constantly exposed to different things and learn something new every day,” and believe that manager/staff relations are extremely cordial. “Most managers and senior professionals treat junior staff and consultants very well,” notes one Deloitte insider. “I’ve never felt like I couldn’t have candid conversations with the partners, and I feel that I have a very strong relationship with my staff.”

There is one thing, though, that outsiders and insiders alike don’t rave about when speaking of Deloitte: the hours. That is, the firm is said to “overwork its employees,” and working there is thought to be a “grind.”  Insiders aren’t all that surprised that hours are long. “I know that the long hours come with the job,” says one Deloitte staff member, but “working long hours all the time gets old. Sometimes it’s hard to take time off.”

Overall, Deloitte insiders are rather pleased with their jobs. Speaking about her satisfaction, one staff member says, “I’ve transferred positions within the firm, which was, essentially, taking on a new job. I’ve enjoyed the transfer, and I’m definitely satisfied with the firm’s ability to grow with my career.”

No. 2 PwC

Regarding PwC’s firm culture, one insider says, “The firm adheres to a work-hard, play-hard mentality. My office is a close-knit group and enjoys spending time together during non-work hours. On the job we have an open-door policy where ideas and thoughts are freely shared. Our partner has made it clear that anyone can reach out to him regarding anything.”

No. 3 Rothstein Kass

Here’s one RK insider on his overall job satisfaction: “The people within the firm make it an easy place to come to on a daily basis. For the most part, everyone gets along very well, and most people enjoy spending time with other employees outside of the work environment. Although public accounting can be stressful at times, the people here make all the difference.”

No. 4 Marcum

An insider on comp: “Marcum pays at the higher end of the pay scale. Compensation is extremely competitive.”

No. 5 Dixon Hughes

One of the firm’s accountants on Dixon Hughes’ business outlook: “We’re in a unique position as a regional firm. We’re big enough and talented enough to compete with Big Four firms for clients, but are also small enough to compete with some of the regional firms for clients. Our business outlook is good, and we’re looking forward to the things to come.”

Check out the rest of the firms ranked in the Vault Accounting 50.

–Posted by Derek Loosvelt, In the Black