In the 1997 film Grosse Pointe Blank, John Cusack portrays a baby-faced hit man who travels back to his hometown in Michigan to attend his 10-year high school reunion. While there, he's approached by a fellow assassin played by Dan Aykroyd, who wants to unionize the men and women in their curious line of work, explaining that their synergy as an association would translate into formidable competition against larger organizations.Fortunately for the accounting profession, the process of forming and joining associations is infinitely safer, not to mention legal, and hopefully more profitable. Membership in these alliances over the past several years has been ratcheting up, as associations are leveraging that synergy in competition against firms in the upper tiers.

There are a number of reasons that explain the spike in membership, such as Sarbanes-Oxley prohibitions that prevent many larger firms with public audit clients from supplying niche services, or a basic lack of scope when bidding for clients against larger firms with greater capital and manpower resources.

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