When writing the Palm Beach County CPA Market Opportunity Report, one of the things I was curious about:
How Many CPA Firms are in Palm Beach County, Florida?
While one might think that this would be a relatively easy number to pin down, I found out quickly that this was anything but the case.
Florida Institute of CPAs (FICPA)
The Florida Institute of CPAs (FICPA) has an active Palm Beach Chapter. While the chapter website page has seven officers listed and two board members, the chapter doesn’t mention how many of FICPA’s more than 19,000 members are based in Palm Beach County.
If I take the ratio of Palm Beach County’s 2016 population (1,443,810) and divide by Florida’s 2016 population (20,612,439), I might be tempted to guess that 1,330 of FICPA’s 19,000 members are in Palm Beach County. Could that be even remotely accurate?
According to LinkedIn, when I search for CPA in the West Palm Beach, Florida, 3,709 results are returned. But these are individuals, not accounting firms.
To make matters more complicated, when searching on LinkedIn Sales Navigator for CPAs in West Palm Beach, Florida area, I get 1,489 results.
According to Hoovers, there are 1,156 companies in Palm Beach County, Florida with SIC code 872 for Accounting, Auditing, and Bookkeeping Services.
A similar, but geographically more diverse, variation of this question has been asked on Quora:
How many accountants (CPAs) in the United States have websites overall?
A handful of people chimed in with no true consensus. Two people coalesced around 650,000 CPAs in the U.S. But there was disagreement on how many of those CPAs worked for CPA firms, as opposed to working as CFOs, controllers, or in similar roles in other businesses outside of public accounting.
Edward Mendlowitz, a partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs, writing for Accounting Today estimates that there are 42,000 accounting firms in the U.S. -- most of which are small, with fewer than five employees and less than $600,000 in annual revenue.
If we take the ratio of Palm Beach County’s 2016 population (1,443,810) and divide by the U.S. 2016 population (323,127,513), you might estimate that there are 187 accounting firms in Palm Beach County, Florida.
The Bottom Line
So do any of these numbers make sense when considered together for trying to estimate how many CPA firms are in Palm Beach County?
- FICPA has 19,000+ members. So proportionately by population, it might have 1,330 members in Palm Beach County. (a subset of which may be working in accounting firms)
- LinkedIn is all over the place estimating anywhere from 1,489 to 3,709 members with the word CPA in their profiles in the greater West Palm Beach, Florida area. (again, a subset of which may be working in accounting firms) LinkedIn is especially murky with this because some people in southern Palm Beach County (around Boca Raton) consider themselves part of LinkedIn’s greater Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. While others in Boca Raton, self-select into the greater West Palm Beach, Florida area.
- Hoovers will rent you a mailing list of 1,156 companies in Palm Beach County that provide accounting, auditing, or bookkeeping services.
- Quora had an interesting related conversation that appeared to be inconclusive.
- Accounting Today published an article citing 42,000 accounting firms in the U.S., which proportionately by population might equate to 187 accounting firms in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Who’s right? Who’s not? And why is this question so hard to answer?
My best guess: this is a highly fragmented industry that’s very difficult to reach.
Do you have better insight or information? Please feel free to share in the Comments below.
And if you’re part of an accounting practice that’s trying to grow and compete more aggressively in a digital-first world, download your free excerpt from the Palm Beach County CPA Market Opportunity Report.