Last year, the Accounting Today published its list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in [American] Accounting on September 9, 2010. I don’t know that it ever causes a stir, but we talked about it on AECM. AECM is the e-mail listserv for accounting professors (with a membership of 750). We wondered why no one from the academic side of accounting made the list (or ever makes the list, for that matter). Upon closer examination, it turned out that Frank Ross (Howard U) made the list. Bob Jensen contacted the editor and suggested the names of 20 academics for the 2011 list.
It’s an interesting question, I think, as to who should qualify to be on the list. The accounting industry in the U.S. is so large, certainly over 1,000,000. There are auditors, accountants, thought leaders, professors and students who are all directly part of it. Then there are those who are indirectly related, such as companies/investors that benefit from using accounting information, businesses that serve the accounting industry, journalists, bloggers, government regulators and even tax collectors. And what about those Europeans who have their IFRS, FRC and the EC? And should the person’s contribution be for only the most recent 12 months, recent years, or a lifetime of activity? And what about fraudsters who influence the accounting industry?
For that matter, what does it mean to be to have been influenced? I look at the list and I wonder how the honorees influenced me? I have heard of almost none of them. Does being influential mean having had an impact?
I’m sure the editorial staff at Accounting Today has grappled with these questions over the years, time and time again.
A short while ago, I was asked who I would say are the most influential. Here are the people in the accounting world who have influenced me the most in the past year.
- Bob Jensen, emeritus professor from Trinity University, now retired to New Hampshire. Bob has influenced me in several ways. He serves AECM by passing along the most interesting news items and web links he comes across every day. He stimulates and shapes discussions for the rest of us. We have interacted thousands of times, but we have never met face to face (except for a brief three hours at the 2010 AAA annual conference).
- Tom Selling, retired professor from Thunderbird University, now a consultant and author of Accounting Onion. Tom’s essays on the Accounting Onion have taught me quite a bit about accounting theory. Oh, I don’t agree with him on some of the accounting issues, but he has ratified my beliefs about the political forces and back room infighting that takes place in Washington.
- Charley Niemeier, ex-PCAOB and now a securities lawyer in private practice. I wrote about Charley’s famous September, 2008, speech to the NYSSCPA, in which he put forth several reasons why the U.S. should not move toward IFRS at this time. His speech was perfectly researched, organized and written. But more than that, he became the poster child to me for holding on to your convictions, despite what earthly penalties follow. I know of no one with more personal integrity.
- Professors Mark Holtzblatt and Norbert Tschakert, winners of the 2011 award for Innovation in Accounting Education. Their epiphany–to have students create videos essays on accounting topics–has influenced hundreds of professors and thousands of students.
- Sam Antar, former CFO of Crazy Eddie’s. Sam was born into a family of crooks. After he grew up, Sam was the architect of several schemes that netted the Antar family tens of millions of dollars, deceived auditors, and kept law enforcement officials at bay for years. Sam is at his best today when he talks about the mindset of a financial criminal.
- Michael Rapoport, journalist for Wall Street Journal and formerly of Dow Newswire. He has written several articles about accounting in recent years. Not schooled in accounting, he has been a quick study. Would have loved to have had him in my classes.
- Ed Ketz, Penn State University professor and author of Accounting Cycle and Grumpy Old Accountants. My first blog post on The Summa was a reaction to something he wrote. Ed has taught me a lot about how to write accounting commentaries. Ed is the only accounting professor I know (other than me) who uses different types of social media as an integral part of being an accounting professor. I’m still not sure what his brand message is, but whatever, it certainly works for him.
- Bloggers Francine McKenna (Forbes and re: the auditors), Jim Peterson (re:Balance), Caleb Newquist (Going Concern) and Adrienne Gonzalez (Jr Deputy Accountant), and social media guru Michelle Golden (Golden Practices).
Who is on your list of the Most Influential? Will anyone on your list make the Accounting Today list to be published sometime in the next two weeks?
Debit and credit – - David Albrecht