All businesses, regardless of nature, will require someone who knows accounting or can handle the accounting function.
Therefore, it is important for every business owner to consider this function as it provides the numbers and information decision-makers need to help their companies meet their goals. Furthermore, it also helps any business to comply with taxes, laws, rules, and regulations set by any regulatory body, be it the government or any international standard-setting body.
However, not everyone can afford to hire full-time accounting personnel. Moreover, some businesses often rely on the experience and expertise of those who are already familiar with the ins and outs of how to do accounting and related matters. In this article, we will discuss how to outsource accounting and guide you to get the most out of these accounting firms that offer such services.
Table of Contents
- At a Glance: Top Accounting Firms in the Philippines
- What Are Accounting Firms?
- What Are the Services Offered by Accounting Firms?
- Why Outsource Accounting?
- How To Choose an Accounting Firm
- List of the Top Accounting Firms in the Philippines (with Rankings)
- 1. Sycip, Gorrez, Velayo & Co. (SGV) (Partner Firm of EY)
- 2. PwC Philippines – Isla Lipana & Co. (Partner Firm of PwC Global)
- 3. KPMG Philippines – R.G. Manabat & Co. (Partner Firm of KPMG Global)
- 4. Grant Thornton Philippines – Punongbayan & Arraulo (Partner Firm of Grant Thornton Global)
- 5. Deloitte Philippines – Navarro Amper & Co. (Partner Firm of Deloitte Global)
- What Are Other Options for Accounting Firms?
- Frequently Asked Questions
At a Glance: Top Accounting Firms in the Philippines
|Accounting Firm||Major Services|
|Sycip, Gorrez, Velayo & Co. (SGV) (Partner Firm of EY)||Assurance, Tax, Consulting, Strategy, and Transactions|
|PwC Philippines – Isla Lipana & Co. (Partner Firm of PwC Global)||Client Accounting Services, Assurance, Tax, Consulting, Deals, and Corporate Finance|
|KPMG Philippines – R.G. Manabat & Co. (Partner Firm of KPMG Global)||Audit and Assurance, Tax, Advisory|
|Grant Thornton Philippines – Punongbayan & Arraulo (Partner Firm of Grant Thornton Global)||Audit & Assurance, Tax Advisory and Compliance, Outsourcing and Managed Services|
|Deloitte Philippines – Navarro Amper & Co. (Partner Firm of Deloitte Global)||Audit & Assurance, Consulting, Financial Advisory, Legal, Risk Advisory, Tax|
What Are Accounting Firms?
Accounting firms are entities composed of accountants that provide outsourced accounting services of various kinds. In the Philippines, accounting firms are either sole proprietorships or general professional partnerships1. Corporations in the Philippines are not allowed to offer audits and assurance of financial statements; however, they can offer other accounting services.
The goal of an accounting firm for its clients depends on the type of engagement. Generally, accounting firms ensure that financial transactions are timely and accurate, taxes and government requirements have complied with properly, and they help businesses by providing financial statements essential for making business decisions.
What Are the Services Offered by Accounting Firms?
The following are the available services popularly available from accounting firms:
This is the process of recording a business’ financial transactions on a regular, day-to-day basis for the company to produce Financial Statements, which can be used by management or external users to make business decisions.
Bookkeeping requires the use of either the Manual Books of Accounts provided by the BIR (which will be handwritten) or an electronic accounting system.
This is the process of computing the salaries of a business. The whole process from timekeeping, computation of withholding taxes and government contributions, and the preparation and filing of payroll taxes are included in this service.
What makes this a complex task is the computation of contributions and taxes, remittance of loan payments to government agencies, and submission of annual and quarterly lists.
This is the process of filing tax returns and submitting items required by the Bureau of Internal Revenue or other regulatory body. This function may also include advisory on how to avoid taxes (legally, of course!) and how to respond to any assessments issued by the BIR.
This task requires effort since taxation in the Philippines is very complex. The World Bank, in its 2020 report for the Philippines2, ranks the country 95th out of 190 countries in ease of doing business and paying taxes. With numerous ways to file taxes, different tax types, and different deadlines, it will be a tremendous task for the non-accountant to comply and remember everything related to tax.
4. Statutory Compliance
This is the process of submission of requirements to government bodies like Local Government Units, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and any other regulatory body that regulates the type of business (for example, businesses that are into agricultural products may have compliance requirements with the Department of Agriculture).
The World Bank 2020 report on the Philippines says it takes 33 days to register a business in the Philippines on average. Imagine how many more hours it would take if a non-accountant takes this task?
5. Audit and Assurance
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bureau of Internal Revenue require Audited Financial Statements, which are financial statements inspected and have gone through a rigorous process of auditing. Only Certified Public Accountants accredited by the Board of Accountancy can issue an opinion to consider a financial statement as an Audited Financial Statement (AFS). Aside from those, other audit functions may be offered under this service, like Operational Audit, Compliance Audit, and IT Audit.
In layman’s terms, this service provides confidence to external users that what the management presents in its reports and processes are all presented fairly without any material misstatement.
6. Management Advisory
This service is provided to give advisory and consultation in areas relating to the financial aspect of the business, such as but not limited to finance, budgeting, tax planning, business planning, and future valuations and projections. Any concern that requires management decisions will benefit from this service.
Why Outsource Accounting?
There are a lot of reasons why businesses outsource accounting. The following are the most common reasons:
1. Maintaining an In-House Accounting Department Is Too Costly
This is true, especially for startups and small businesses. For example, the cost of maintaining an accounting staff may cost around ₱20,000 a month (which includes salaries, allowances, employers’ share in government contributions, etc.). Compare this to a price range of ₱5,000 to ₱15,000 for an engagement for outsourced accounting.
Accounting firms can offer this low price because accountants who work for them usually serve more than one client, considering the workload and complexity of such clients.
2. Most Small Businesses Have Very Little Expertise in Accounting Matters
Let’s say a small business owner is business-savvy but lacks the expertise to prepare and comply with all accounting requirements. Even if he hires an accounting staff, odds are that staff has little to no knowledge of the complexities of all requirements for the accounting function. Also, he won’t be able to afford the salary of someone who has expertise as a full-time employee.
3. Less Commitment
Businesses prefer hiring accounting firms because they can be flexible with their engagements, and they don’t have to commit long-term.
Accounting firms may offer their terms on a renewable annual contract basis, which allows the company to decide whether or not to continue with the business. This is unlike hiring full-time personnel for your accounting department, where after a 6-month probationary period, you have to keep them permanently until such time they resign from their post or for some other reason. More often than not, terminations may result in costly separation pay.
How To Choose an Accounting Firm
There are a lot of options to choose from when selecting an accounting firm. Of course, with all agreements, the client and the firm must create a contract between them. With these, brief background research on the firm may reveal good information about them. The following must be considered when considering an accounting firm:
Clients should consider the expertise of the persons running the firm. Aside from the educational background of the people behind the firm, their previous and current work experiences might matter when considering their services. Businesses are of different nature, so a specialist in a specific field would be preferable.
2. Track Record
Clients should consider the length of service each of these accounting firms has. As a general rule, the longer they’ve been in the service, the better their reputation will be, although there will be some exceptions.
Also, take a look at client reviews. As of the moment, there are no websites that gather reviews from clients, so your best shot for this is to ask people on social media. A tip would be to go to Accounting Help groups or forums (e.g., Tax Help in the Philippines or the BIR Tax Updates, Tax Problems, & Business Concerns Facebook groups) and ask for opinions. Most people here also offer accounting services, so you would get offers as well.
Clients should consider the price of the services being offered. The reason why businesses outsource accounting is to save on costs. Take note that there is a linear relationship between items 1-2 and item 3, meaning the greater the expertise and track record, the larger price they are expected to bill.
List of the Top Accounting Firms in the Philippines (with Rankings)
The Accounting Firms at the top of the industry in the Philippines are usually those who are affiliated with the biggest accounting firms in the United States.
Known as the Big Four3, these firms currently serve 80% of all public U.S. companies. These are Delloite, Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG). Most of these are affiliated with local firms, which in turn serve the top companies in the Philippines. However, they will also accept engagements for small businesses as well, so do not be afraid. They are also maintaining satellite offices around the country, so regional clients won’t miss out.
We rank the top 5 accounting firms in the Philippines based on the following criteria:
- Expertise, track record, and pricing
- Clients offered
- Services Offered
- Global Affiliation
The following list is my top 5 accounting firms in the Philippines:
1. Sycip, Gorrez, Velayo & Co. (SGV) (Partner Firm of EY)
- Established: 1946 (76 years in service)
- Major Services: Assurance, Tax, Consulting, Strategy and Transactions
- Contact information: [email protected] | (632) 8891-0307
- Website: www.sgv.ph
- Overview: SGV has been the top accounting firm in the Philippines since its existence. It serves about half of the top 1000 corporations in the Philippines4. The firm specializes in Assurance, where this service line has been ISO 9001-certified since 1996. Every year, most of the topnotchers of the Certified Public Accountant Licensure Examinations are recruited by SGV. This resulted in their very strong and qualified leaders, most of whom are homegrown. SGV is easily #1 on my list since its lead over other firms is significant despite its partner firm not being the global leader. In fact, out of all firms in this ranking, only SGV maintains its branding based on the local firm and not on the global firm, a testament to the strength of the local brand.
2. PwC Philippines – Isla Lipana & Co. (Partner Firm of PwC Global)
- Established: 19225
- Major Services: Client Accounting Services, Assurance, Tax, Consulting, Deals, and Corporate Finance
- Contact Information: PwC Contact Form | (632) 8845-2728
- Website: www.pwc.com/ph
- Overview: PwC’s partner firm in the Philippines, Isla Lipana & Co., is the oldest professional services firm in the country, tracing its roots as far back as 1922, when its ancestor, White Page & Co., was founded. It also has one of the oldest active partnerships with a global firm since 1958. In terms of experience, look no further than this accounting firm. PwC Philippines serves about 15% of the top 1000 corporations in the Philippines, which is good for the 2nd spot. PwC Philippines takes the #2 spot on my list since they have a good history, great expertise, and a fairly large client base.
3. KPMG Philippines – R.G. Manabat & Co. (Partner Firm of KPMG Global)
- Established: 2007
- Major Services: Audit & Assurance, Tax, Advisory
- Contact Information: KPMG Contact Form | (632) 8885-7000
- Website: www.home.kpmg/ph/en/home
- Overview: While relatively young, KPMG Philippines has already established itself as a household name in the Philippines. KPMG Philippines has been recognized by the International Tax Review as a Tier 1 Tax Practice and Tier 1 Transfer Pricing Practice in the Philippines. They are ranked number one for overall quality for global financial services consulting6. KPMG Philippines ranks third for accounting firms serving the top 1000 corporations in the Philippines, which is at 10%.
4. Grant Thornton Philippines – Punongbayan & Arraulo (Partner Firm of Grant Thornton Global)
- Established: 19887
- Major Services: Audit & Assurance, Tax Advisory and Compliance, Outsourcing and Managed Services
- Contact Information: GT RFP Online Form | 09190963486 / 09171895643
- Website: www.grantthornton.com.ph
- Overview: While their global partner firm Grant Thornton is not one of the Big Four, local firm Punongbayan & Arraulo more than makes up for it by becoming a famous name in the world of professional services, at least in the Philippines. They are serving 5% of the top 1000 corporations in the Philippines, which is a pretty good feat for any firm, albeit someone affiliated outside of the Big Four. Their local position causes it to rank at #4 (which outranks a firm with a global partner).
5. Deloitte Philippines – Navarro Amper & Co. (Partner Firm of Deloitte Global)
- Established: 19978
- Major Services: Audit & Assurance, Consulting, Financial Advisory, Legal, Risk Advisory, Tax
- Contact Information: Deloitte PH Contact Form | (632) 8581-9000
- Website: www2.deloitte.com/ph/en
- Overview: The local partner firm of the worldwide leader Deloitte Global, Deloitte Philippines also operates with the same professionalism and expertise offered internationally with a local touch. However, they rank last in my list since they did not place in the top 5 accounting firms auditing the top 1,000 corporations in the Philippines, but Deloitte Philippines still places among the top 5 due to their expertise and global reach.
What Are Other Options for Accounting Firms?
The options listed primarily serve large corporations, but as I have said, they are also catering to small and medium-sized businesses. Of course, accounting firms of that level maintain a high degree of professionalism and formality, which can be intimidating for some small businesses whose main goal is to nail down what is required for them to run their businesses without going through much formality. With this, there are a lot of accounting firms outside of the top 5 list. Check your local listings for small accounting firms that serve your area, or you might want to check out an online directory like Yellow Pages and search for them. Of course, always evaluate the accounting firm by rating its pricing, expertise, and track record.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can a small business thrive without an employed accountant?
Yes, but it will be very difficult. All registered businesses are required to maintain books of account and file taxes, and not every business owner knows how to do these things. An option for the business owner is to enroll in courses and training, but of course, that would be an investment in time, money, and effort, and it may be cost-efficient for the business owner to just hire an accountant or an accounting firm to do all accounting functions of his businesses.
2. Can I hire different accounting firms for different purposes?
Yes! If you are hiring an accounting firm to provide Audit and Assurance services, they are prohibited to provide any other services for you since it would be a classic example of conflict of interest. This is the reason why many businesses who hire accounting firms to do their bookkeeping or taxes engage another accounting firm as their auditor to give assurance services, mainly for their Annual Financial Statements.
3. I am an accountant. How can I start my own accounting firm?
First, you need to be an expert on the service you are trying to provide. Of course, expertise will be earned through experience working in different fields. This is why I only recommend accountants who have worked with different companies and different fields to start an accounting firm. However, if you previously worked for an accounting firm, then your experience will be very suitable if you plan to start your own firm since you will already be familiar with the ins and outs of the business.
- Philippine Law and Jurisprudence Databank. Republic Act No. 5431 (1968). Manila, Philippines.
- World Bank Group. (2020). Doing Business 2020. Retrieved from https://www.doingbusiness.org/content/dam/doingBusiness/country/p/philippines/PHL.pdf
- Kenton, W. (2022). What Are the Big Four?. Retrieved 25 July 2022, from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bigfour.asp
- Castañeda, C. (2018). SGV still supreme as it continues to be the most sought-after auditing firm. Retrieved 25 July 2022, from https://www.bworldonline.com/research/2018/01/03/99482/sgv-still-supreme-continues-sought-auditing-firm/
- Bautista, D. (2022). Our History. Retrieved 25 July 2022, from https://www.pwc.com/ph/en/about-us/our_history.html
- Overview. Retrieved 25 July 2022, from https://home.kpmg/ph/en/home/about/overview.html
- P&A Grant Thornton: Unlocking the potential for growth of its clients and people. (2019). Retrieved 25 July 2022, from https://www.bworldonline.com/features/2019/04/01/223098/pa-grant-thornton-unlocking-the-potential-for-growth-of-its-clients-and-people/
- About Deloitte Philippines. Retrieved 25 July 2022, from https://www2.deloitte.com/ph/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/about-deloitte-philippines.html