Audit Firm Market Share of ERISA Benefit Plans

Entities, or sponsors, that offer post-employment benefit plans are required by ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) to disclose audited financial information to plan beneficiaries. Unlike the public company audit market, which is dominated by the Big Four accounting firms, the ERISA market is more distributed and regionalized.

The top five states, in terms of total assets, account for roughly 40% of total ERISA benefit plan assets in the United States. Since our last market share analysis, based on 2016 filing data, California overtook New York as the top state and Illinois fell from the third largest state to the fifth. However, the amount of benefit assets in each state grew between 10% and 40%.

The current market share of California’s top audit firms has remained relatively consistent. Moss Adams continues to lead with 19% of total plan assets audited; the current market share of Morris Davis Chan & Tan grew slightly, up to 15% from 14%; and KPMG was replaced by PwC in the top five.

New York’s top audit firms also remained consistent. Grant Thornton replaced Crowe in the top five, while KPMG and EY each saw a decline in the amount of total plan assets audited. However, the top four remained unaffected in terms of rank.

In Texas, there was a shake-up in three of the top five firms in terms of current market share. Mayer Hoffman McCann, Whitley Penn, and McConnell & Jones each fell from the top five. BKD, which is now second, Weaver & Tidwell, and Mitchell & Titus are new entrants into the top five. Additionally, EY’s market share fell from 37% to 17%; however, the Big Four firm still remains the largest ERISA audit firm in Texas, as measured by total plan assets audited.

New Jersey only saw one new audit firm enter the top five. CohnReznick replaced EY as the fifth largest firm. PwC grew its market share over the past few years, going from 20% in our previous analysis to 27% in the current analysis. The second largest firm, Mitchell & Titus, also saw an increase in market share from 9% to 11%.

Illinois saw two new audit firms enter the top five since our previous analysis: Mitchell & Titus, which is now the second largest ERISA audit firm in the state, and EY, which is fifth. Mitchell & Titus acquired Washington Pittman & McKeever in July 2018. Prior to the acquisition, Washington Pittman & McKeever was the fourth largest ERISA audit firm in Illinois with 8% of the market share.

This analysis uses data from the ERISA database, powered by Audit Analytics, and is based off of current auditor data pulled in April 2021.

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