The Top People in Public Accounting — 2018

Each year as part of our Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting list, we ask candidates for the list to name who they think are the most influential people in the field, and here they are, ranked by the number of votes they received from the 142 candidates.

You can see the official Top 100 People report here.

Lynne Doughtie of KPMG
No. 15: Lynne Doughtie
While Doughtie would be influential just for leading KPMG into a technology-enabled future, candidates for the Top 100 focused more on the fact that she (and fellow influencer Cathy Engelbert) were proof that the glass ceiling could be broken: "It is a real change that will make a real difference," wrote one candidate. 2018
No. 14: Erik Asgeirsson
As the head of, the technology arm of the American Institute of CPAs, Asgeirsson has been working to shepherd accountants into the future. "He successfully re-engineered the profession’s approach to client accounting services and has now set his sights on doing the same for the audit," noted one candidate for the Top 100.
No. 12 (tie): Jennifer Wilson
Wilson and her team at ConvergenceCoaching are among the top consultants to accountants in the country, begging the rhetorical question posed by one of her peers: "Who has done more to help bring firms into the 21st century, while staying at the top of her game for so many years?"
No. 12 (tie): Cathy Engelbert
Like her counterpart Lynne Doughtie, Engelbert made the Top 100 for her leadership at her Big Four firm, Deloitte, but the candidates for the list respect her as a pioneer and role model, too. "A trailblazer in our profession," wrote one of her peers, "Cathy is also leading the transformation of critical audit technology."
Smith-Brad-Intuit 2018
No. 8 (tie): Brad Smith
Smith may be stepping down as head of Intuit at the end of this year, but the candidates for the Top 100 noted again and again that, with over 7 million small businesses and accountants using QuickBooks, "Even his small decisions can send ripples through the profession." What's more, they were impressed by his ability to evolve beyond the company's legacy desktop product to pursue similar levels of ubiquity in the cloud.
Kautter-David-IRS 2018
No. 8 (tie): David Kautter
Kautter may step down as acting commissioner of the IRS whenever Trump nominee Charles Rettig is confirmed, but until then, he "has the obligation to navigate the IRS through the tax reform implementation process under the continued shadow of recent controversies," wrote one tax expert.
Duhnke-William-PCAOB 2018
No. 8 (tie): William Duhnke
Having only taken the helm at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board this year, Duhnke is still something of an unknown quantity for many influencers in the profession — but they're anxious to learn more about him. As one put it, "All eyes are sure to be on Duhnke as he maneuvers to right the PCAOB ship."
Clayton-Jay-SEC 2018
No. 8 (tie): Jay Clayton
The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission is naturally in a position to have a major impact on the profession, and the candidates for the Top 100 were alive to that fact, noting Clayton's strong determination to protect the investing public, and his goal of increasing the number of public companies in the country.
Golden-Russell-FASB 2018
No. 7: Russell Golden
As chair of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, Golden is a natural member of the Top 100. As one of his peers simply put it, "He is at the forefront of all of the major accounting changes."
Ron Baker
No. 6: Ron Baker
"He has been focused on a single message that can have a bigger impact on the accounting profession than almost any other single change," wrote one of his peers, referring to Baker's decades-long quest to kill the billable hour and start accountants charging for the value they offer — a quest that is starting to see results.
Trump-Donald 2018
No. 5: President Trump
As many influencers pointed out, you don't need to agree with his policies to recognize the effect he's having, starting with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. "President Trump has changed the landscape on several fronts, all of which dramatically impact the profession," wrote one. "Bottom line is that the Trump administration continues to bring uncertainty, and will continue to have a major impact on the accounting profession."
Koltin-Allan-Koltin Consulting 2018
No. 4: Allan Koltin
Koltin is well-known as a pre-eminent advisor on accounting firm M&A, but his fellow influencers also admire his grasp on where the profession is heading. "Allan’s voice resonates across firms of all sizes," wrote one of his peers. "Allan is able to influence smaller firms to evolve and change while at the same time, speak to the larger firms about the future and where we need to be."
No. 3: Kimberly Ellison-Taylor
The influence of the AICPA chair often drops off after their term, but not Ellison-Taylor's: Many of the candidates for the Top 100 still feel her influence strongly. One described her as "the only person to rival Barry Melancon in terms of passion for the profession" — high praise, indeed.
Hood-Tom-Maryland Association of CPAs 2018
No. 2: Tom Hood
The head of the Maryland Association of CPAs has been called the "Energizer Bunny" of the accounting profession, which may help explain why he is perennially among the top picks for the most influential person in accounting, evangelizing his passionate vision of the future of the profession. As one T100 candidate put it, "He never, ever stops evolving and inspiring others to do the same."
Melancon-Barry-AICPA 2018
No. 1: Barry Melancon
AICPA chief Barry Melancon emerged as the top vote-getter by far — as he has for more than a decade. Citing his deep understanding of the profession, his vision for its future, and his now-global reach, more than half of the 142 candidates who responded named him the profession’s main influencer.

"When Barry speaks, people listen," wrote one Top 100 candidate. "They better listen because almost every time he speaks, it’s about a critically important issue that will impact firms’ survival."