The Advantages Small Accounting Firms Possess Over the ‘Big Four’ Firms

The Advantages Small Accounting Firms Possess Over the ‘Big Four’ Firms

It’s easier for small accounting firms to fear the big four firms. Who are the big four firms anyway? For those of you who don’t know, the big four firms are Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young and KPMG. These names ring a bell, don’t they? They are the biggest market leaders in the accounting industry, that even a little kid knows who they are.

While it’s evident that the big four possess a strong advantage over small accounting firms considering their global network, extensive portfolio and many employees working for them worldwide, small accounting firms still possess various advantages over the big four firms. We will explore this in detail below.

1. Small accounting firms have genuine relationships with their clients

Clients are an essential asset for any business in any industry. Clients in the accounting industry want their accountant to understand their financial situation and adequately want to build a genuine and continuous relationship with them. A bigger accounting firm will undoubtedly have more experience dealing with various clients regardless of whether they are from bigger or smaller companies. However, it’s the smaller companies that your accounting firm can easily attract by providing better and personalized services.

Since the big four have a broader range of clients worldwide, the smaller clients might deal with different people each time their file gets shared. As a result, some of these clients might not know their accountants in the big four firms. Moreover, since the turnover rate at the big four firms is high, you’ll never get to speak with an accountant that you preferred last time the next time you call.

Therefore, small accounting firms providing high-quality services and building genuine professional relationships with their clients have a more substantial chance of winning over small clients. Moreover, these clients can save a lot of time and money.

2. Flexibility

Small accounting firms have great flexibility in dealing with their clients compared to the big four firms. For example, since the big four firms need to maintain their prestigious image, they have specific strict policies and practices that every employee should follow when dealing with clients. However, small firms have the flexibility of providing a service rate and payment plan that makes both the client and the firm comfortable.

Small accounting firms have customized services based on the clients’ affordability. Therefore, if you’re a small accounting firm, you don’t have to include additional services in a package your clients don’t require. It’s, therefore, always crucial for you to understand your client’s industry, business and finances when offering them your services in a tailored and specific manner only for them.

Moreover, small businesses prefer small accounting firms as rather than meeting various people in an accounting firm that may not understand their business correctly, they want an accounting firm with an accountant that deals with a broad range of services and knowledge in one go.

Due to the genuine relationship with the client, the firm will be more than just a mere accounting firm and can provide advice on business development and other aspects to their clients.

3. Better working environment

Although the big four firms and other prestigious accounting firms have attracted many top talents due to better exposure and a higher salary, your small accounting firm can create a better working environment by hiring only high-quality employees, as stated by a U.S.-based company named allBusiness.

Some of the advantages you can offer to high-quality employees are:

  • Flexible working hours – compared to the big four, small accounting firms can provide flexible working hours for employees to have a better work-life balance and peace of mind. Due to the nature of clients and the mountain of work, it’s hard for employees at the big four firms not to get a break.
  • A friendly working environment – most big companies, have political agendas and favour their employees due to personal bias. This shouldn’t be the case with a small accounting firm with a few employees who are friendlier and warmer.
  • Hands-on experience – employees can have a better hands-on experience at a small accounting firm and an opportunity to get to know their clients well.
  • Sense of ownership in the firm – usually, being a partner at a big accounting firm makes someone feel like a small part of a giant firm. However, in small firms, it’s easier for partners to take ownership of the business, leading them to invest in the firm’s growth.

4. Ability to move around with people from other departments

Based on a blog by Accounting resume on the big four, the big four firms have expanded to such a great extent that it’s difficult for an employee to know anyone outside their department. Considering the size of the clients and the audit team, employees can get stuck with a crazy level of work for a few years. However, this isn’t the case with small accounting firms with a small number of employees as all employees are close and have a better chance of knowing each other from other departments within the firm.

5. Less pressure

Since most small accounting firms have private company clients, they are less likely to be pressured with deadlines and problems from public companies that the big four companies work with. This, therefore, encourages a better work-life balance at a small accounting firm.

6. No need to get stuck dealing with one client

Accounting resume reported that since clients in the big four are large and high profile, accountants get stuck dealing with a particular client. This depends on different accountants on whether they prefer dealing with one specific high-profile client or not. However, if an accountant likes working with various clients, working at one of the big four firms will not be wise. Subsequently, they’ll have less exposure to other clients and industries.


Being a small accounting firm isn’t scary. Although small accounting firms may feel too discouraged when comparing themselves with the big four firms, they still have great opportunities than the big four firms in terms of:

  1. Holding genuine relationships with clients.
  2. Flexibility.
  3. Better working environment.
  4. Ability to move around with people from other departments.
  5. Less pressure.
  6. Not dealing with one client but with various clients and thus better exposure.



Big 4 vs. Small Firms: Pros and Cons

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