2018 Top 100 People: Ones to watch

There simply isn’t enough room to cover all the influential people in accounting; with that in mind, here’s a selection of people we expect to hear more from.

We’ll start with Charles Rettig, who’s been nominated to serve as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service by President Trump but, as of press time, hadn’t been officially confirmed.

Next up, we’re definitely keeping an eye on Kacee Johnson, who joined CPA.com as a strategic advisor and is already having an impact. Similarly impactful is this trio of leaders from state societies: Jennifer Briggs, who took over the Indiana Society of CPAs this year; Natasha Schamberger, whose leadership of the Kansas Society of CPAs got her named one of the Most Powerful Women in Accounting; and Sarah Krom, who was named the youngest president of the New Jersey Society of CPAs (and only its third woman).

There’s also a whole host of influencers from organizations and standard-setters that may be less familiar to you: Kevin Dancey, the former head of CPA Canada, will be taking the helm at the International Federation of Accountants at the end of the year; Jeffrey Hales, the new chair of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board; and Richard Howitt, the CEO of the International Integrated Reporting Council; Erkii Liikanen, the new chair of the IFRS Foundation, which supports the International Accounting Standards Board; and Scott Showalter, the chair of the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board.

With so much change coming so fast, a host of consultants are rising up to help firms navigate the future; besides those on our main list, here are several worth noting: Bob Lewis, president of The Visionary Group, who is serving as an “outsourced chief growth officer” for many firms; Tamera Loerzel, who has built a name as a leading consultant at ConvergenceCoaching; Amy Vetter, who struck out on her own this year after years with Xero; Andrew Argue, who is reshaping thousands of accounting practices with his sales education; and Garrett Wagner, who is spreading the message of “the Entrepreneurial CPA” through his consulting and the show he co-hosts with Sean Stein Smith, who is also raising his own profile by sharing his expertise on blockchain. As a bonus, we’ll point out “the Recovering CPA,” John Garrett, who makes accounting funny but also shares an important message about the need to maintain your individuality.

The technology space always yields a host of people who are worth paying attention to. This year, we’re highlighting Alessandra Lezama, who’s making a big splash bringing AbacusNext into the accounting space; Lisa Fitzpatrick, who has taken the reins at Bloomberg Tax; Jim McGinnis, who has taken a new role at Wolters Kluwer after several high-profile years with Intuit’s accounting channel, as well as Ariege Misherghi, who was named to McGinnis’ old role at Intuit, and Sasan Goodarzi, who was recently named the incoming CEO of Intuit; and Andy Hovancik of tax compliance provider Sovos, who should find himself very busy in the wake of Wayfair. We’ll also mention two entrepreneurs who are prefiguring major changes in the field: Enrico Palmerino, whose botkeeper service is introducing cutting-edge technology to bookkeeping, and Mario Costanz, whose Happy Tax is both competing with traditional tax practitioners, and actively engaging with new technologies like cryptocurrencies.

We’ll also cite three practitioners who we think you’ll be hearing more from: Elizabeth Pittelkow and Danielle Supkis Cheek, who stand out for being extraordinarily active in the profession, and Kyle Walters, who shares valuable lessons with clients and his fellow accountants learned from his own practice.

Finally, depending on how the mid-term elections in November go, you may want to bear these two names in mind: Democrats Richard Neal, who might be the next head of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Senator Ron Wyden, who’s already very active in tax policy, but could become even more so if the votes go their way.

Tax experts to watch

To say that it’s been a big year for tax is an understatement — it’s been epoch-making, with near-unprecedented levels of complexity, thanks to two entirely different, once-in-a-generation events in the field of tax.

The many, many provisions of last December’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would have been enough to keep any tax pro busy figuring out what they all mean for both businesses and invidual clients, but when you throw in this summer’s Supreme Court ruling in the Wayfair online sales tax case, the likelihood that any given client has some major tax issue ahead of them approaches near-certainty.

Knowing that, tax practitioners of all stripes are looking for guidance that they can rely on — and fortunately a large cadre of gurus and tax geniuses have stepped up to help out. We could easily have filled the Top 100 with the many tax experts who have rushed in to provide guidance; instead, we’ve compiled this short list of reliably expert experts who are out there sharing their expertise in a wide range of forums:

  • Annette Nellen, the chair of the AICPA Tax Executive Committee, and AICPA vice president of tax Ed Karl;
  • Wolters Kluwer’s Mark Friedlich, who also advised congress members on the shape of the reform bill, and Mark Luscombe (there’s a reason both are columnists for Accounting Today …);
  • Thomson Reuters’ Robert Trinz and Shaun Hunley;
  • Bloomberg Tax’s George Farrah (who’s also on our main list);
  • Bloggers Kelly Phillips Erb (Tax Girl) and Eva Rosenberg (TaxMama);
  • Withum’s Anthony Nitti;
  • Larry Gray, who serves as national government liaison for the National Association of Tax Professionals;
  • Leonard Burman of the Tax Policy Center;
  • Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation;
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum;
  • David Cay Johnston of DCReport.org; and,
  • Robert Willens.

View this year's Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting.

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