The Importance of Accounting Firm Benchmarking  

Comparing your accounting firm with others not only helps you see how you stack up against the competition but also gives you insight into what you’re doing well and where you can get better. If you want to make data-driven decisions that will actively improve your firms performance, accounting firm benchmarking is a must.

Defining Benchmarking and Its Importance

In simple terms, accounting firm benchmarking is about examining what your firm does and how well it does it—then comparing this to what the best firms do. Benchmarking allows you to scrutinize financial health, operational efficiency, service excellence and even firm culture.

Accounting firms may engage in various benchmarking methods:

  • Internal benchmarking scrutinizes differences within the firm’s departments.
  • Competitive benchmarking compares your firm’s performance with that of peers.
  • Functional benchmarking delves into specific functions across the profession.
  • Generic benchmarking gleans best practices from sectors beyond your own.

Accounting firm benchmarking can lead to better performance, efficiency gains and a better understanding of the competition. Measuring against financial, operational and strategic benchmarks paves the way for informed decisions and robust growth.

Sourcing Accounting Firm Benchmarking Data

Trying to strategize without relevant data at hand is like trying to navigate a maze with your eyes closed. Unless you know what’s really happening in the accounting sector, you’re basically taking a shot in the dark.

Reputable management of accounting practice (MAP) surveys are typically your best bet for finding robust, reliable data. The Rosenberg Survey and the IPA Practice Management Survey are two excellent resources for accounting firm benchmarking. Because both of these surveys see wide participation, you can feel confident that you’re getting an accurate picture of the accounting sector as a whole. Additionally, both surveys maintain rigorous data integrity standards.

Incorporating Benchmarking Into Strategic Planning

Collecting accounting firm benchmarking data is merely the first step in a much longer process. Don’t just leave that data sitting on a spreadsheet! Once you have the information you need, it’s time to:

  1. Analyze: Really dig into the data to see exactly where you stack up against other firms.
  2. Discuss: Bring leaders and firm partners together to have an open, honest conversation about what you’ve found.
  3. Develop: Create an action plan with specific steps to address any potential areas of improvement that benchmarking has identified.
  4. Communicate: Share what you’ve learned and what you plan on doing moving forward with all staff and relevant stakeholders (this will help ensure buy-in).
  5. Implement: Get to work on that action plan, assigning specific responsibilities to the appropriate people and setting clear expectations.
  6. Monitor: Set meetings at regular intervals to review how the plan is progressing.
  7. Adjust: Be prepared to make adjustments on the fly as you discover what’s working and what isn’t.
  8. Report: Create reports or presentations to show key stakeholders what you’ve accomplished and how your firm has improved against benchmarks.

Making Benchmarking an Ongoing Practice

To maximize value, approach benchmarking as an ongoing journey rather than a one-time event. Think of it as a regular dialogue between your firm and industry standards. You should:

  • Review benchmarks often, especially when reevaluating strategy.
  • Focus on KPIs that reflect your priorities—profitability, turnover, realization, productivity, etc.
  • Plan ahead and mark your calendar to make sure you don’t miss the cutoff date to participate in upcoming MAP surveys you’re interested in (both the IPA and Rosenberg Surveys are launching in January 2024).


To truly leverage the power of accounting firm benchmarking, it’s crucial to make it an integral part of your strategic planning. It’s about continuous improvement, strategic adjustments and, most importantly, staying informed and competitive in a dynamic market.

Additional Resources

For help strategically implementing insights gained from benchmarking

Insights into benchmarking best practices

Further details on the history of benchmarking, types of benchmarking and the advantages of benchmarking