Accounting Today has not, historically, done much in the way of awards. We gave one for practice innovation in the mid-1990s, but otherwise, we generally prefer lists and rankings with rigorous, quantifiable criteria for inclusion. There's nothing wrong with awards, of course -- we'd like to win some ourselves -- we've just tended to stick to the impartial list and the no-judgement-required ranking, as more befitting a news organization. Even our Top 100 Most Influential People list, which will be coming out next month, we think of more as an exercise in news analysis than as an award.

This month, however, marks the start of two new reports that come much closer to being awards than just about any others we present. The first, which you may have heard about, is our Accountant of the Month contest, a new feature on our Facebook page where we encourage accountants to submit photos and stories that disprove the myth that the profession is boring.

If you turn the page, you'll find a caricature of a woman with a number of donkeys and the fastest-looking go-kart I've ever seen. Her name is Darlene Finzer, a principal with Top 100 Firm Rea & Associates, and she's our inaugural Accountant of the Month. Besides crunching numbers, Darlene raises donkeys and serves on the pit crew for her nephew's go-kart races. If proof is ever required that accountants aren't boring, she's it -- though if she's too busy looking after her more than 50 donkeys or changing tires in the pit, by the time you read this we'll have announced next month's AotM online, and they can join the crusade to prove that the profession is far from dull.

The AotM contest is a lighthearted way of celebrating the interesting and diverse members of the profession, but the other report I want to mention is a little more serious. Every year, as we get down to the arduous business of winnowing down the candidates for September's Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting list, one group in particular suffers more than any other -- firm managing partners. While we generally include a number of them, many very successful MPs don't make the list. The reason is simple: Most often, their influence is restricted to their own firm, while regulators, consultants and association leaders are more likely to have broad influence on the profession as a whole.

For the individual accountant and the individual firm, though, few figures loom as large or have as much influence as the managing partner. Much more than some distant regulator, they make the difference between growth and stagnation, between advance and retreat -- between success and failure. On the ground and in the trenches, they are by far the most influential figures in accounting.

With all that in mind, this month we're starting to collect entries for a new report, to run in our October issue: The Managing Partner Elite. This annual list will put a spotlight on a dozen or so firm leaders who are making the difference, blazing trails, building thriving businesses, and creating the best practices that all the other firms in the profession will soon be implementing.

While the MP Elite will be drawn from most every size of firm and from all over the country, it will not be a comprehensive list or ranking. There are hundreds of great leaders at firms across the country, and we want to start introducing you to them, a dozen at a time. We'll be picking the Elite in part on some strict criteria -- time in office, firm growth rates, the progress they've made in certain areas -- but we'll also be picking them to help illustrate important trends in firm management and firm leadership. (You can find the call for submissions and the eligibility information on

In the end, we hope to present a collection of MPs that will show the profession the best of itself, and give firm leaders (and would-be leaders) someone to emulate -- which is, in a very different sense, what we're hoping to do with the Accountant of the Month, too.

We hope you'll participate in both, and find the results as interesting, useful and rewarding as we do.

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