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Tuesday, Jul 16, 2024

Accounting Firms on Hiring Binge for 2nd Straight Year

Orange County’s largest accounting firms are continuing their hiring spree, with most of the county’s top companies adding to their headcount in 2022.

The 48 largest firms on the Business Journal’s annual list of accounting firms reported an 11% increase in local hires to 6,676 employees. Last year, they reported a 9.6% rise after posting a 1% drop in 2020.

Altogether, 39 firms on the list reported increases, including 22 by more than 10%. A year ago, 20 firms reported double-digit growth.

Only one firm reported a reduction in staff while eight reported no change. A year ago, seven firms reported a headcount reduction and two years ago, 13 did so.

OC employee growth was lower than companywide growth of 16% to 1.5 million.

The list includes firms with at least 10 area employees and ranks them by local headcount.

Omega Breakout 

The clear breakout this year is Irvine-based Omega Accounting Solutions Inc., whose number of employees more than tripled to 187. It went from unranked a year ago to cracking the top 10 at No. 9.

Omega’s growth exploded when it pivoted to a new federal program called the Employee Retention Credit program or ERC, which provides a refundable tax credit up to $26,000 per employee for businesses that continued to pay employees while shut down due to COVID-19.

“For us it’s a gold rush,” Omega founder and Chief Executive Jay Woods told the Business Journal in March.

“It’s a little bit like the Wild West.”

About two years ago, Omega employed 24 and operated out of a 3,000-square-foot office in Laguna Niguel; it now has a 51,000-square-foot space in Irvine that it subleases from Broadcom Inc. at the FivePoint Gateway office complex.

Woods is expecting sales to grow from $80 million last year to $250 million this year, with headcount expanding to 300 by the end of this year.

Omega is now the largest accounting firm with headquarters in Orange County, followed by No. 10 CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, which grew its headcount 12% to 185.

The Andersen Story
Another fast grower was San Francisco-based Andersen, whose Costa Mesa office grew by 53% to 98.

The company’s grown by merging with other firms like Irvine-based Rickmeyer & Associates and Newport Beach-based Vertical Advisors.

Andersen works with ultra-wealthy families and first- or second-generation entrepreneurs, according to Chad Thiel, managing director of Andersen’s Orange County office.

“We view Orange County as a phenomenal marketplace for what we do,” Thiel said.

Andersen is the successor to the former accounting giant Arthur Andersen, which went out of business in 2002 because of fraudulent practices involving Enron. The firm’s current partners acquired the rights to the name.

“Andersen is synonymous with best in class and quality,” Thiel said. “As we grow our new firm, it’s built around those core values.”

Deloitte Remains No. 1

Eight of the 10 largest firms reported increases.

The Costa Mesa office of Deloitte once again topped the list with 1,097 employees, a 12% jump; a year ago, it increased headcount by 15%.

Deloitte OC Managing Partner Marshall Solomon has previously told the Business Journal that the local growth is a reflection of the company’s national growth; its companywide headcount rose 20% to 415,000.

Locally, it’s been growing in sectors like life sciences, technology and real estate.

No. 4 PwC, also known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, in Irvine jumped 18% to 489 employees. It’s the second straight year of double-digit growth; last year, it reported a 12% increase.

It’s right behind No. 3 KPMG LLP, which reported the same employee count at 498.

Irvine again was the favorite local base for the accounting firms with 30 offices, including nine of the 10 largest firms, followed by Costa Mesa with five.

The list shows the number of partners in OC increased 6.4% to 700; a year ago, the increase was 5.3%.

The number of certified public accountants rose 9% to 2,014.

Executives at several firms are reporting a shortage of qualified candidates.

“This matter is top of mind for the profession,” said Chris Vanover, president of Irvine-based AuditClub, which is offering fractional access to accountants (see story, page 22).

“Each year fewer accountants enter the profession while more CPAs near retirement,” he said.

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