Tradition dictates that my final column of the year reflect on the events that affected the accounting profession. Given what happened over the course of 2006, that would probably extend far beyond the space that I'm allotted here. But if pressed to render a verdict as to whether the profession was better off as it exited 2006, I'd unhesitatingly vote in the affirmative.As wine enthusiasts are often fond of exclaiming, it was a good year. Not that any of our readers - or anyone in the profession, for that matter - would likely confuse the profession's current climate with that of, say, 2001.

The profession saw fairly robust growth in 2005, as evidenced by our annual survey of the Top 100 Firms, which reported a 15 percent growth spurt for the members of our century club. According to early projections, 2006 revenues appear to be headed in the same positive direction.

It's also heartening to see firms engage in what is tantamount to a recruiting street fight to hire and retain accountants. Depending on whose salary survey you read, it's unquestionably a seller's market, and employers are ponying up for both college graduates and mid-level CPAs to meet the spike in demand for traditional and niche services.

The year saw top-level changes at both the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and the Treasury Department. At the PCAOB, a former banking regulator, Mark Olson, succeeded another former banking regulator, William McDonough, at the helm of the audit firm overseer. Meanwhile, Wall Street veteran Henry Paulson took the Treasury's reins from John Snow, as the third person to fill that cabinet post during the George W. Bush administration. In his subsequent public appearances, Paulson has expressed some, shall we say, interesting takes on Sarbanes-Oxley and its future. It will be interesting to monitor what unfolds in that area over 2007.

And while we're on the subject of the now four-year-old SOX, and corporate reform in general, I suspect there was more than a faint hint of schadenfreude among members of the profession when Enron co-conspirator Jeffrey Skilling and former WorldCom chief executive Bernie Ebbers received an aggregate half-century behind bars.

There's also been a modicum of progress on ongoing issues such as private company financial reporting and international convergence, as well as the issuance of new risk-assessment standards and, of course, pension reform.

We're also excited from a personal perspective as well.

Accounting Today, which next year will mark its 20th anniversary, is preparing to unveil a new look in 2007. However, the quality editorial that you've come to know and trust for the past two decades will remain unchanged.

In addition, our SMB Finance, which debuted in October 2005 and was created to address the strategies and concerns of finance executives in the small-to-midsized category, will increase its frequency to six times in 2007.

It's with some melancholy that we have to report that estate-planning columnist Bob Rywick will step down after appearing in an impressive 183 issues of Accounting Today. We wish Bob the best and thank him for his many contributions over the years.

Finally, from the staff at Accountants Media Group, we would like to take this opportunity to extend to you our best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season.

We'll meet up again in January.

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