On Friday, September 7, Accounting Today released its list of “Top 100 Most Influential People” in accounting. All honorees have risen to a level of leadership and responsibility and all wield some sort of influence.
The editors of Accounting Today describe the list as a work in process. As the profession changes, whether due to societal, technological or other factors, they claim the list evolves to capture the contemporary stage of the profession.
As technology grows more important in accounting, we include new IT experts; as new regulatory bodies are formed, we add new regulators; as more Millennials and Gen Ys rise to positions of importance, more of them will appear among the Top 100; as the profession explores more new specialities, we’ll add experts from those fields; and as more women and minorities (hopefully) join the profession, we’ll add more women and minorities.
By my count, 75% of the list is male and 95% is Caucasian. Although the editors mention change, in broad composition the list is similar to last year when it contained auditors, regulators, vendors, etc. Change has taken place at the individual level, though. When some previous members retired, they were replaced on the list by their successors.
So anyway, what is influence?. The editors don’t define the term, or issue criteria used to decide whether or not to include a nominee. The definition of influence as provided by Dictionary.com is “(1) the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others, (2) the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others.” Dictionary.com also lists these synonyms: sway, rule, authority, impress, bias, direct, control, incite, rouse, arouse, instigate, induce, persuade.
Many of the influential on the T100 list are organizational leaders with the authority to control the actions of their employees. On the T100 list, many honorees are the CEO or a firm, company or organization.
The editors comment that the honorees are thought leaders. Thought leaders develop creative, innovative ideas that have the potential to guide future directions. In looking through the list, ability to fashion a vision for the future is a common characteristic.
An influencer must also have a forum through which to communicate ideas. It might be in terms of organizational leadership or through use of communicative media. Whatever, the influential must be able to communicate their message.
The members of the T100 list can be summarized in a number of ways, but I’ll use the following six classifications:
- Accountants & auditors – those who directly lead the accountants, and have a major impact on client financial reporting
- Bloggers & media – commentators and information providers 
- Lobbyists & public interest groups 
- Professional associations – by and for accountants 
- Regulators – those who establish and enforce the rules for accountants to follow 
- Vendors – those who provide essential advisory services 
I am presenting the names of the auditors and their regulators, those typically thought of as comprising the key figures in the accounting industry. For the entire list, please visit the Accounting Today site for a digital copy of “Top 100 Most Influential People.”
Accountants & auditors–leaders of large firms. Fifteen heads of audit firms made the list in 2012. Because of their formal position of authority in their respective firms, they have control and influence over the actions of their employees. Because the firms are in the business of interacting with client companies to provide an opinion on financial statements, they also wield some sort of influence on those companies. It is hotly debated whether audit opinions influence the investment decisions of investors, but at least some people perceive there to be influence.
- Anderson, Rick: Moss Adams (Chairman & CEO)
- Baggett, Ken: CohnReznick (Future co-CEO)
- Blumer, Jason: Blumer & Associates (Chief Innovation Officer)
- Bourke, Jim: WithumSmith+Brown (Partner)
- Chipman, Steven: Grant Thornton (CEO)
- Echevarria, Joe: Deloitte (CEO)
- Hewitt, John: Liberty Tax Service (Founder & CEO)
- Marino, Tom: CohnReznick (future co-CEO)
- McMasters, Krista: CliftonLarsonAllen (CEO)
- Moritz, Robert: PWC (Chairman and senior partner)
- Padar, Jody: New Vision CPA Group (CEO and principal)
- Turley, James: Ernst & Young (Global Chairman & CEO)
- Veihmeyer, John: KPMG (Chairman and CEO)
- Viere, Gordon: CliftonLarsonAllen (CEO)
- Yetter, Diane: Yetter Tax Consulting (President)
Regulators. The following seventeen individuals have been named to the list because of they are responsible for determining public policy over accounting rules and practices, or because the enforce them. Some of the regulators have been appointed, others have been appointed.
- Attmore, Robert: GASB (Chairman), Standard setter
- Baucus, Max: US Senate (Senator), Government official
- Beswick, Paul: SEC (Acting Chief Accountant), Government official
- Camp, Dave: US House of Representatives (Representative), Government official
- Doty, James: PCAOB (Chairman), Government official
- George, J Russell: US Treasury, (Inspector General for tax administration), Government official
- Grassley, Chuck: US Senate (Senator), Government official
- Hatch, Orrin: US Senate (Senator), Government official
- Hawkins, Karen: IRS (Director professional responsibility), Government official
- Hoogervorst, Hans: IASB (Chairman), Standard setter
- Mackintosh, Ian: IASB (Vice-chairman), Standard setter
- Obama, Barak: USA (President), Government official
- Olson, Nina: IRS (National Taxpayer Advocate), Government official
- Romney, Mitt: USA (Presidential candidate), Government official
- Schapiro, Mary: SEC (Chair), Government official
- Seidman, Leslie: FASB (Chair), Standard setter
- Shulman, Doug: IRS (Commissioner), Government official
Debit and credit – – David Albrecht