Companies in this industry provide services such as auditing, bookkeeping, payroll processing, and tax return preparation. Major companies include the "Big Four" accounting firms: Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which all have international operations; other leading companies include US-based Automatic Data Processing (ADP), Paychex, and H&R Block.
Demand for accounting services depends on new business formations, the increasing complexity of corporate business, and personal income. The profitability of individual firms depends on the right mix of services and effective marketing. Large firms have advantages in providing wider ranges of services to large corporate clients and having the resources to serve customers with many locations. Small firms can compete effectively by specializing and providing superior service. The US industry is fragmented: the 50 largest US companies account for just less than 50% of revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
Payroll services account for 25% of US industry revenue; tax preparation and auditing each account for about for 20%. Tax planning and consulting, bookkeeping, general accounting, and billing services each account for about 5%. Other services include management consulting, financial statement review, and services related to computerized accounting systems services. Some accountants have branched into accounting-related information technology consulting, business consulting, and personal financial planning. Small business owners often rely heavily on their accounting firms for advice.