Chicago Accounting Scene: Discovering CPA Practices at Accounting Firms in Chicago

Accounting Firms in Chicago
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As the third-largest city in the United States, Chicago boasts a vibrant economic landscape marked by an array of industries, with the accounting sector playing a pivotal role. Known for its significant contribution to the city’s financial health, the Chicago accounting scene is renowned for its high caliber of professional services, particularly within accounting firms. These firms, manned by Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), offer services ranging from audit, tax, and advisory, among others. 

This article aims to delve into the world of CPA practices within Chicago’s accounting firms, highlighting their vital role in fostering financial transparency and bolstering business performance across the city’s bustling commercial sphere. Join us as we uncover the excellence of Chicago accounting and the integral part CPAs play in shaping this dynamic industry.

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Chicago’s accounting landscape

The past few decades have seen a robust expansion of accounting firms in Chicago, riding on the city’s economic growth and diverse industry sectors. Firms ranging from ‘Big Four’ multinational corporations to smaller, specialized local firms have made Chicago their base, offering a range of services to meet the ever-evolving needs of businesses. The city’s strategic location and vibrant business environment have fostered the growth of these firms, leading to a rich, competitive landscape of accounting service providers.

accounting firms in chicago

The role of CPA professionals in accounting

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) stand at the heart of Chicago’s accounting industry, bringing a high level of expertise, professionalism, and ethical standards to the services they provide. 

CPA professionals provide a broad spectrum of services. These services include but are not limited to, audit and assurance, tax planning and preparation, financial reporting, business advisory, and consulting. Audit services often form the backbone of their work, ensuring the accuracy of a company’s financial statements. Tax services encompass planning, compliance, and dealing with tax authorities. Advisory services can range from financial planning and risk management to mergers and acquisitions and succession planning. By offering these diverse services, CPA professionals in accounting firms meet the multifaceted needs of businesses, contributing to the robustness of the Chicago accounting scene.

How to choose an accounting firm in Chicago: tips for business owners

While the core services of auditing, taxation, and advisory are common across most accounting firms, the depth and breadth of these services can vary significantly. Larger, global firms tend to offer a more extensive suite of services, including corporate finance, risk management, and consulting services, with the ability to cater to clients operating in multiple jurisdictions. On the other hand, smaller, more specialized firms often provide a more personalized approach and might have deep expertise in niche sectors or services. The competitive landscape of Chicago’s accounting scene ensures that businesses can find a firm and service suite that matches their specific needs.

Choosing the right accounting firm is an essential decision that can have a significant impact on your business’s financial health and growth. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you make an informed choice.

Understand your business’s needs

Before starting your search, clearly define your business’s accounting needs. Are you looking for basic services such as tax preparation and bookkeeping, or do you need more complex services such as business consulting, financial management, and audits? The nature and scale of your business will largely determine the type of accounting services you require.

Look for specialization

If your business operates in a specialized industry like real estate, healthcare, or non-profit, it’s beneficial to choose a firm with experience in that sector. These firms will be familiar with the specific accounting practices and regulations related to your industry.

Evaluate their reputation

Check reviews and testimonials from other businesses. You can also ask for references from the firm’s current or past clients. Reputable firms should be more than willing to provide this information.

Consider the level of services

If you require extensive services, you might be better off with a larger firm. However, if you’re a small business owner, you might find that a smaller firm can provide more personalized attention.

Assess their technological competence

In today’s digital age, it’s crucial that your accountant is adept at using modern accounting software and technologies. They should also be able to provide online access to your financial data.

Meet face-to-face

A face-to-face meeting can give you a sense of the firm’s working style and whether you’d feel comfortable working with them. This meeting can also help you evaluate their professionalism, responsiveness, and understanding of your business needs.

Discuss fees

Accounting fees can vary widely, so it’s important to discuss these upfront. Make sure you understand how their fees align with your budget and what services you’re getting in return.

Consider long-term relationship

An ideal accounting firm is one that can grow with your business. As your business evolves, your accounting needs will likely become more complex. Choose a firm that can meet those needs and provide strategic financial guidance as your business grows.

By following these steps, you can find an accounting firm in Chicago that is the perfect fit for your business, offering the expertise, services, and support you need to manage your finances effectively and drive your business toward success.

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Chicago accounting: Overview of the major accounting firms or service providers 

Chicago’s accounting industry is marked by the presence of a diverse array of service providers. From the globally recognized ‘Big Four’ (Deloitte, PwC, EY, KPMG) to numerous regional and local accounting firms, the city hosts a rich mix of accounting professionals providing an expansive range of services. Many firms specialize in different areas, allowing them to cater to various sectors and sizes of businesses, from multinational corporations to small local enterprises.

Grant Thornton LLP

Grant Thornton has built a reputation in Chicago for providing robust audit, tax, and advisory services. They specialize in working with dynamic, growth-oriented organizations across various industries. Grant Thornton’s audit services ensure compliance and financial transparency, while their tax services maximize efficiencies and manage risk. Their advisory services provide strategic guidance, improving operations and fueling growth. Their commitment to personalized attention allows them to build meaningful relationships with their clients, ensuring their services evolve alongside their clients’ needs.


As part of the global BDO network, BDO USA with its headquarters in Chicago, delivers a comprehensive range of assurance, tax, and advisory services to businesses of all sizes. They are well-regarded for their work with publicly traded and privately held companies across multiple sectors, including real estate, life sciences, and manufacturing. BDO USA employs a client-centric approach, offering tailored services that address the unique challenges and opportunities of the Chicago business landscape.


RSM US has a strong focus on the middle market, understanding that these businesses require services that are as dynamic as they are. By offering audit, tax, and consulting services, they provide comprehensive support to help businesses navigate financial complexities. They understand the nuances of the local Chicago business environment and deliver tailored solutions that promote sustainable growth and success.

Baker Tilly, LLP

Offering a comprehensive range of accounting services, Baker Tilly has built a strong presence in the Chicago market. They stand out for their commitment to understanding specific industry challenges and opportunities, tailoring their audit, tax, and consulting services accordingly. This industry-focused approach, combined with their dedication to fostering long-lasting client relationships, allows them to provide consistent, high-quality service.

Crowe LLP

Crowe stands at the forefront of providing specialized services to industries such as healthcare, financial services, the public sector, and manufacturing. Their audit services promote financial transparency, while their tax planning minimizes liabilities and ensures compliance. They also provide comprehensive consulting and technology solutions, helping businesses to optimize operations and drive growth. Crowe’s approach is characterized by deep industry specialization, innovative thinking, and a commitment to delivering practical solutions.

Plante Moran

Plante Moran offers a wide array of services, including audit and tax, wealth management, strategy, and operations consulting. They cater predominantly to the middle market, ensuring their services are tailored to the specific needs of these businesses. Their audit and tax services support compliance and efficiency, while their consulting services provide strategic guidance for growth and success. Their wealth management services offer a holistic approach to financial planning, ensuring long-term prosperity for their clients.


Chicago’s vibrant accounting scene, marked by a plethora of diverse accounting firms, plays an instrumental role in the city’s business ecosystem. These firms, fueled by skilled CPA professionals, offer a wide range of services, from auditing to tax planning and strategic business advisory, catering to the needs of businesses both big and small. The invaluable assistance provided by these firms, tailored to each client’s unique needs, not only ensures financial compliance but also paves the way for informed decision-making and sustainable growth.

The value offered by these firms transcends the boundaries of traditional accounting and business consultancy, contributing to the overall health and success of the Chicago business landscape. As businesses continue to evolve and grow, the role of accounting firms and their CPA practices will remain critical, upholding financial integrity and fostering economic progress in Windy City.

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