Small vs. Large Accounting Firms: Which One to Hire?

Posted by Mary Milorrie Campos
Mar 07, 2024
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Working with an accounting firm gives chief financial officers (CFOs) an added capacity to handle the finance and accounting needs of their organization. The question is, which one should you hire: a small accounting firm or a large accounting firm?

In this article, let’s explore the differences between the two in terms of their service offerings, service quality, client relationships, and pricing. 

An image depicting the dilemma of choosing between small accounting firms vs large accounting firms.

As a CFO, hiring more accountants can ease your growing regulatory responsibilities.  

However, as the one in charge of overseeing cost controls in your organization, you know better than anyone that hiring another in-house accountant can increase your department’s overhead costs. And even if you have the necessary budget, finding qualified talents can be your next challenge amid the ongoing decline of professional accountants. 

Working with accounting firms can resolve these concerns.  

However, the quality and cost of service you can receive still vary on which type of firm you choose to work with.  

So how should you choose an accounting firm, especially when you’re torn between large and small accounting firms?  


A quick comparison between small accounting firms vs large accounting firms

Firm Size 

Best For 

Service quality 

Client Relationships 


Small accounting firms 

- Private companies (CFOs)  

- Sole traders 

- Small business owners 

- Startups 

- Family businesses 

- Entrepreneurs 

- Not-for-profits 

Service quality differs per firm. Some can provide you with high-quality customized services while others may fall behind your expectations. 

Personal, easier to build rapport. Small firms have fewer clients, the reason they value each client they work with. The atmosphere is also more relaxed. 

Low to medium 

Large accounting firms 

- Multinational corporations 

- Large companies 

- Large banks 

- High net-worth individuals 

Usually high, especially with the Big 4, due to the high standards they uphold. 

Relationships tend to be more transactional than personal because they’re also working with tons of other clients. Employees normally work in a high-pressure environment. 


Below is a more detailed comparison between small accounting firms vs the Big 4. 


Small accounting firms

Small accounting firms are local and regional firms with a few employees. Their usual clients are businesses that are also near their size which include: 

  • private companies,  
  • small businesses, 
  • sole traders, 
  • not-for-profits, 
  • startups,  
  • entrepreneurs, and  
  • family businesses. 

You can classify them between two major categories, full-service firms and specialty firms.  

Full-service firms offer all types of accounting and bookkeeping services. Specialty firms, meanwhile, have at least one specialized service. The common examples are bookkeeping firms, tax firms, and audit firms. 

Here's what you can expect from small accounting firms in terms of service quality, types of services, client relationships, and costs.


Service quality

The service quality differs per firm. Some firms, though small, can provide excellent accounting support at par with the ones you can avail of from a large firm. Other firms, on the other hand, may fall behind your expectations. 

To guarantee excellent service, make sure to perform due diligence on your shortlisted firms. Always do your research to minimize risks. 


Customized and scalable services

One of the main benefits of working with a small firm is you can get customized services based on your specific needs. Rather than choosing a package that’s closest to your needs, you can select which service and number of hours will work best for you. This can save you more because you only pay for the services you use. 

They’re also more flexible and scalable. You can easily upgrade or downgrade your account without going through a lengthy process.  

However, there can be limitations in availing of another service, especially if the firm you chose to work with doesn’t specialize in that particular area. 


Client relationships 

Another advantage of working with a smaller firm is its friendly atmosphere.  

Because they have fewer employees and cater to a smaller client base, small firms are more invested in building genuine relationships with their clients. 

Maintaining close communication with a small firm is also easier and more personal.


Service costs

The cost of accounting services in small accounting firms is lower than that of a large firm. For a more accurate price quote, it’s best to contact your prospective firm. 

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in higher cost savings, you can opt for an offshore option instead. 



Large accounting firms 

Large CPA firms are composed of the Big 4 and other well-known national and international entities. Their typical clients include multinational corporations, large companies, large banks, and high-net-worth individuals. Here's what you can expect by working with large accounting firms.


Service quality

Given their long years of experience, they have more expertise and resources than their smaller counterparts. They’re also the top choice of the top certified public accountants (CPAs), thanks to the quality of training, experience, and compensation they provide. You have a higher chance of receiving the best advice and service if you choose to work with a large firm. 


Service costs

However, their services also come with a high price tag. Working with them may not be a feasible option if you have a limited budget. 


Client relationships

Client relationships at large accounting firms tend to be more transactional than personal.  

Despite having thousands of employees, they also have a huge pool of clients. They may not be able to adapt themselves to your specific needs.  

If you prefer receiving personalized accounting support — or you want to work closely with your accountant — working with big firms may not be an ideal option. 


Work with D&V Philippines

Is working with large accounting firms not an option for you? Work with D&V Philippines instead.  

Part of our onboarding process is a discovery call where we have an extensive discussion about your business needs and expectations, your processes, and how we can streamline your accounting using cloud technology.  

We also provide our accountants with a work-life balance because we believe they can provide the best client experience if they are happy at work. 

If you wish to learn more about our accounting and financial services, contact our team today or download our Premium Solutions whitepaper. 

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This article was first published on 22 November 2021 and updated on 7 March 2024 for relevancy and comprehensiveness. Edited by: Mary Milorrie Campos 


Our Outsourcing: How to Make it Work guide explores how you can utilize accounting and finance outsourcing to drive growth to your business and add value to your processes.