INSIDE Public Accounting: The National Benchmarking Report

By Kelly Platt and Mike Platt

The Platt Group / INSIDE Public Accounting
The Independent Gold Standard of Accounting Firm Benchmarking Since 1990

The annual INSIDE Public Accounting National Benchmarking Report is one of the most complete, independent, up-to-date sets of economic and management statistics available about the accounting profession.

The INSIDE Public Accounting report gives owners and managers:

  • The largest independent survey, with over 500 firms participating.
  • The longest-running, started in 1990.
  • With the highest repeat rate, at 92%, which provides the profession’s best year-on-year comparisons.

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SAMPLE: U.S. Regions at a Glance, IPA National Benchmarking Report

In this year’s report, top-line organic growth averages 6.2%, up from 4.6% last year, with increases reported across every region of the country.

At firms with more than $50 million in annual net revenue, organic topline growth averages 7.0%, up from 6.5% last year. When including mergers, these firms average 10.0% growth, up from 9.7% last year.

Revenue-per-charge-hour across all non-Big-Four firms is rising 3.3%, to an average of $168.54. The largest increase is at the firms with more than $75 million in annual net revenue, where revenue-per-charge-hour jumps 7.9% to $208.48. The $50-million- to $75-million-a-year firms are the only group that’s experiencing a drop in revenue-per-charge-hour  – down $9.48, to an average of $188.03. Firms in the Great Plains are seeing the largest increase – over $10 per hour,  or 6.6%, – to an average of $167.39.

Billing rates for equity partners are up an average of $10-per-hour, to $368. The biggest contributors to this increase come from firms in the $30-million to $50-million group, and the $5-million to $15-million category. Firms in the Great Plains are seeing the largest increases in equity partner billing rates, up $15 per hour, to an average $353  per billable hour.

Merger activity rages on, contributing an average of 2.1% to revenue growth, with more than 200 mergers reported among participating firms, and half of those coming from firms with more $50-million-a-year in revenue. But only one-third of the mergers in the category are of CPA firms, with two-thirds of firms reporting mergers with non-traditional firms or both CPA firms and non-traditional firms as acquisitions.

Net income growth is rebounding impressively, with organic profit growth averaging 8.7%, up from 5.0%. When mergers are included, net incomes average 10.1% gains, up from 5.8%. At firms above $50 million, net income growth is averaging 9.5%, continuing a years-long acceleration.



SAMPLE: Net Income as a Percentage of Net revenue, IPA National Benchmarking Report
  • Average Net Income
  • Change in Net Income
  • Change in Net Income with Effects of Mergers
  • Income as a Percentage of Net Revenue
  • Per Partner (All)
  • Per Equity Partner
  • Net Income / Realization
  • Net Income Distributed to Partners
  • Net Income Available for Reinvestment
  • Net Income Per Hour
  • Realization Percentage
    • Graph: Net Income Per Equity Partner
    • Graph: Organic Net Income Growth
  • Net Income – Fully Loaded


  • Revenue Change Organic
  • Revenue Change All
  • Revenue Per Charge Hour
  • Revenue Per Charge Hour (Charge Hour Related Revenue Only)
    • Graph: Organic Net Revenue Growth
    • Graph: All Net Revenue Growth
    • Graph: Organic Net Revenue / Net Income Growth by Revenue Bands
  • Revenue Per Equity Partner
  • Revenue Per All Partners
  • Revenue Per Professional
  • Revenue Per Employee
  • Revenue Generated from Non-Charge Hours
  • Percentage of Revenue Generated from Non-Charge Hours
    SAMPLE: Net Income per Equity Partner, IPA National Benchmarking Report
    • Graph: Net Revenue Per Equity Partner
    • Graph: Net Revenue Per Employee
    • Graph: Compounded Growth Revenue Per Employee
  • Revenue, By Practice Areas
  • Accounts Receivable / Work-in-Progress
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Offices and Facilities
  • Billing Rates
    • Graph: Average Billing Rate Multiple
  • Standard Hourly Billing Multiples
    • Graph: Average Equity Partner Billing Rates
    • Graph: Average Billing Rates by Professional Staff Level
  • Utilization


  • Charge and Work Hours, Non-Partner Staff
  • Charge and Work Hours, Equity Partners
    • Graph: Charge Hours Per Equity Partner
  • Charge and Work Hours, Non-Equity Partners
    • Graph: Percentage Reporting Revenue from Something Other Than Charge Hours
    • Graph: Partner / Staff / Entry-Level Staff Compensation


SAMPLE: Firmwide Gender Breakout, IPA National Benchmarking Report
  • Partner Compensation
  • Partner Compensation Formula Mix
  • Partner Compensation Credits
  • Partner Compensation Systems
  • Partner Work Schedules and Ownership
  • Partner Retirement
  • Partner Termination
  • Newly Admitted Partners and Partner Requirements
  • Managing Partner Data


  • Evaluations / Reviews
  • Planning
  • Strategy


  • Firm Costs as a Percentage of Net Revenue
  • Firm Capital


  • Partners
  • Professional Staff by Years of Experience / Total Firm Personnel
  • Professional Staff Licensing
  • Ratios / Professional Staff Turnover
      • Graph: Professional Staff Turnover

    SAMPLE: Professional Staff Turnover, IPA National Benchmarking Report
  • Staff Compensation
    • Graph: Average Professional Staff Compensation
    • Graph: Ratio of Equity Partner to Professional Staff Compensation
  • Recruiting / Training


  • Business Development Director
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Chief Information Officer
  • Controller
  • Firm Administrator
  • Human Resources Director
  • Information Technology Director
  • In-House Counsel
  • Marketing Staff
  • Training / Learning Director


  • Association Membership


Using data collected from the Survey & Analysis of Firms, and a rigorous scoring system, IPA scores each of the 550 participating firms against 50 financial and operational metrics.

The result is IPA’s Best of the Best, which includes 50 U.S. firms above $5 million, 10 under $5 million and five Canadian firms.

The Best of the Best firms are top performers across a range of success factors. They are well managed, profitable, efficient and growing, with a strong commitment to developing future leaders, and finding new ways to solve client problems. The 50 firms with more than $5 million in net revenue are concentrated in the Southeast (16), the Great Plains (12) and the Great Lakes (11). Six firms are in the West and five are based in the Northeast.

Bucking the merger craze, only seven of the 50 Best of the Best engaged in an acquisition in the reporting period. And they are evenly distributed across sizes: 14 are IPA 100; 13 are among the IPA 200; 12 are IPA 300 firms; 10 are among the IPA 400, and only one firm is below the IPA 400 threshold of $5.5 million this year.

Kelly Platt, Mike Platt


Kelly Platt, a managing partner of INSIDE Public Accounting and an owner in The Platt Group, has worked in the profession since 1994. She has developed a deep understanding of the inner workings of CPA firms and is a co-founder of Kelly directs all aspects of IPA’s monthly IPA newsletter.

Mike Platt, a managing partner of The Platt Group, has been working with firms since 1985 and is in charge of the annual IPA Survey and analysis of firms. Mike has assisted large local and regional firms across North America to grow and thrive. Mike brings successful ideas, approaches, and information to firms across the globe. A sought-after presenter, Mike specializes in benchmarking trends and analysis, and in partner retreat facilitation.

Sold under license by CPA Trendlines Research,, for sole individual use. Authorization to copy information, tables or graphs contained in this report is expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Platt Group / INSIDE Public Accounting. For customized reprints of tables, graphs or analysis, contact The Platt Group / INSIDE Public Accounting:  Phone: (317) 733-1920 | |

INSIDE Public Accounting: The National Benchmarking Report


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