Account Hierarchy in Lightning Experience

It is time for a #LightningFlap! In an earlier post, I said how Account Hierarchies are better in Lightning Experience. I am now going to explore the following:

  • What is an Account Hierarchy?
  • How do I use it?
  • What can Account Hierarchies not do?
  • Lightning Experience vs Classic
  • Bonus tips
  • Summary

What is an Account Hierarchy?

Imagine this scenario. You login to Salesforce and search for ‘SFDC Penguin’. Multiple Account records are found. How do you know how they relate? Is each account independent or a subsidiary? If only there was an easy way to tell.

Screenshot of Account search results in Lightning Experience

Account Hierarchies do just that. It allows you to define ‘parent-child’ relationships between Accounts. Each Account can have a single parent.

How do I use it?

Using Account Hierarchy is easy. Your users will need ‘Read’ access on Accounts to see a hierarchy and ‘Edit’ to create a hierarchy. Users will also need to see the ‘Parent Account’ field.

First, create the Accounts in Salesforce. Once created, go into a ‘child’ (or subsidiary) Account. In this case, ‘SFDC Penguin – Europe’. On the page, we see a field called ‘Parent Account’. We shall edit this by clicking the ‘pencil icon’ next to it and set this to ‘SFDC Penguin – HQ’ and click save.

Screenshot of the ‘Parent Account field’ on an Account record

If you do not see the Parent Account field, please check the following:

  • Field-level security – is access provided?
  • Page layout – is the field on the page?
  • Are you using a Person Account? If so, please go to ‘What can Account Hierarchies not do?’ below

If the field is populated, you can click on the ‘View Account Hierarchy’ icon next to the Account name, or the Action on the page.

Screenshot of how to access the Account Hierarchy in Lightning

The page will refresh and you will see the hierarchy.

Screenshot of a simple hierarchy

What can Account Hierarchies not do?

Firstly, they do not support Person Accounts. Person Accounts combine Account and Contact records (i.e. Business-to-Customer). If using these, you will not see the ‘Parent Account’ field.

Secondly, they do not impact sharing. Therefore, just because an Account is in hierarchy does not mean users who see one Account will see the others.

Lightning Experience vs Classic

There are several key differences between Lightning Experience and Classic. These are as follows:

Child Accounts records displayedUp to 2000Up to 500
Support Person Accounts ☓
Change columns displayed in Account Hierarchy
Account Hierarchy differences in Lightning Experience and Classic

In conclusion, Lightning allows you to see more records and data. This is very helpful for users, when navigating data. However, when customising columns, consider what will help users most. Just because we can include 15 columns does not mean we should! Therefore, consult with your users and understand what will help them find the correct Account records.

Bonus Tips!

As you have seen, a hierarchy can be very helpful. It can make it much easier to see how Accounts relate. But, you can help yourself further. Here are three tips to optimise your usage.

Change columns in Account Hierarchy

We can display up to 15 fields in our Hierarchy in Lightning. To set this up, follow the steps here.

However, please note that by default the Account Hierarchy will display the columns in the ‘Recently Viewed’ List View. When setup, a new List View is created called ‘Org_Account_Hierarchy’. If this is deleted, Salesforce will revert to the ‘Recently Viewed’ List View. Click here for more information on List Views.

Account names

If your business deals with Accounts with multiple sites, keep names consistent. For example, appending the locale as above (e.g. SFDC Penguin – Europe’, ‘SFDC Penguin – US’). By adding the locale in a consistent way, it adds context. The ‘Account Site’ field can also help with differentiation.

Own your data

Keep on top of your data! Put in a plan and ensure records are ‘owned’. In addition, train your users on how to use hierarchies and their benefit. In short, keeping your data clean will always give you better results.


Account Hierarchies allow you to visualise how Accounts ‘relate’ to each other. They are #BetterInLightning with more control over columns and provide the ability to customise columns displayed. To get the best from this feature, ensure data is owned and maintained.

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