2020 Audit Firm Market Share of ERISA

The Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requires entities or sponsors that offer post-employment benefit plans to disclose audited financial information to plan beneficiaries. ERISA establishes the minimum standards for employment benefit plans, including pensions, 401(k) accounts, and health plans. Consequently, the IRS requires these plans to submit Form 5500 annually, along with annual reports for employee benefit plans.

The ERISA Database powered by Audit Analytics looks at records back to 1999 and covers employee benefit plans subject to the ERISA of 1974. There are countless ways to look at this market share, including who audits ERISA benefit plans, plan types as well as other key data points including plan names, sponsors, number of participants, assets, and income.

There were 89,126 post-employment benefit plans audited by 4,294 firms ending in calendar year 2020. In this analysis, we look at the audit firm market shares of ERISA benefit plans broken down by Single-Employer, Multi-Employer and Direct Filing Entity plan types.

Overall, CliftonLarsonAllen continued to lead the market share by auditing 3,434 plans, representing 3.9% of all post-employment benefit plans in 2020. RSM followed second auditing 2,077 plans, about 400 less than they previously had in 2019, furthering the gap between these leading firms. Valerie Gray CPA debuted in 10th place after completing the audits of 1,000 benefit plans. PwC was also new to the top 20 list, moving up to 19th place replacing fellow Big Four firm, Deloitte. The top 20 firms, by the number of total plans audited, account for nearly 30% of the market.

2020 Auditor Market Share ERISA Benefit Plans - Top Audit Firms; Single-Employer Plans
2020 Auditor Market Share ERISA Benefit Plans - Multi-Employer Plans; Direct Filing Entities


Single-Employer benefit plans are the most common, making up 91% of all post-employment benefit plans ending in calendar year 2020. There were 81,535 single-employer benefit plans audited by 4,173 firms. Altogether, the top 10 firms constituted 21% of all single-employer benefit plans. This suggests that the market for single-employer benefit plans is a specialized and vast market.

CliftonLarsonAllen was the leading auditing firm for single-employer benefit plans ending in 2020, constituting 3.9% of the market share. The following firms, BDO, RSM, and Moss Adams, each audited 2.4%. The top 10 auditing firms for single-employer benefit plans are a similar representation of the overall benefit plan market with minor shifts in ranking.


Multi-Employer benefit plans were the second most common, representing only 8% of all post-employment benefit plans ending in 2020. This is a significant difference to single-employer plans by comparison. There were 6,985 multi-employer benefit plans audited by 1,112 firms.

Calibre CPA Group, a mid-sized accounting firm headquartered in Maryland, was the leading firm auditing 4.1% of the market share. Novak Francella, based out of Pennsylvania, followed second representing 3.8%. CliftonLarsonAllen ranked third and accounted for 3.3% of the market share.

Direct Filing Entity

Direct Filing Entities (DFEs) relate to pooled investment arrangements that provide benefits to employees across multiple, unaffiliated employers. DFE plans made up less than 1% of all post-employment benefit plans ending in 2020. Comparatively, this market is more concentrated with the top 10 firms constituting 81% of the market share.

The Big Four alone audited 72% of DFE plans. PwC led the group auditing 165 benefit plans, representing 27.2% of all audited DFE plans. KPMG followed a distant second, representing 18.8%. EY and Deloitte followed, constituting 17% and 8.7%, respectively. In addition, BKD audited 2.3%, showing their growing presence in auditing this specialized market of ERISA benefit plans.