In the 11 years I've held this post, I've traditionally not followed one of the older and, in my humble opinion, unexciting formats for an editor's column - previewing ad nauseum the feature content of that particular issue. I was always of the belief that if a core readership such as ours could successfully conquer one of the most grueling tests administered in any profession, they most likely could navigate a table of contents. But this month I'll make an exception, because I believe the circumstances are somewhat exceptional in that it's a meeting of the old and the new - a sort of opaque claim, which will become apparent in a minute.

For veteran readers, September marks one of our marquee features - the Top 100 Most Influential People, a nearly 20-year-old franchise that stirs a number of lively debates about who belongs on the coveted roster, who doesn't, and who falls somewhere in the middle. As you can imagine, we get more than our share of feedback and comments, as well as the occasional indignation upon exclusion or being "cut" in the early rounds as our staff winnows down a broad roster of candidates to the century mark.

I won't go over the decision-making process for the T100, as that's documented in the section's intro, but I will divulge that this year, as in other years, there are some new and dynamic members making their debut, as well as some just-missed possibilities that bear watching in the future.

But so much for the old, now on to the new.

Some 18 months ago, our editorial team was engaged in the annual ritual of coming up with new and exciting features and products that would not only get traction with readers, but hopefully attract interest from advertisers as well. And we posited a question: Was there a way to accurately design a confidence index exclusively for public accountants where they could weigh in with their opinions on the economy, their firms and their clients' businesses? We were fully aware that there were already a dizzying number of economic confidence indexes available, many of which we receive both monthly and quarterly.

Taking a cue from the military adage, "The difficult we can do now, the impossible will take a little longer," we are officially launching the Accountants Confidence Index in this issue. Accountants, after all, have their collective fingers on the economic pulse of their client base. So our reasoning was that accountants know a thing or two about confidence - or, as has been the case lately, a lack thereof.

We are fortunate to partner with payroll giant ADP in this monthly feature. But like most start-ups that have a seeming overflow of potential bandwidth, we need help. More specifically, your help.

As readers of Accounting Today, we invite you to join our Executive Research Council, a new community comprising decision-makers in public accounting. As part of that group, you will have an opportunity to share industry knowledge on product developments, practice management strategies and technology issues via Web surveys. Your contributions to the council will also help guide the editorial direction of Accounting Today, as well as provide invaluable feedback to industry product and service providers.

And for those wondering, "What's in it for me?" council members will receive timely and actionable survey data on your business, as well as entry into periodic giveaways of gift cards, iPads, CPE courses andchances at complimentary admission to our second annual Growth & Profitability Summit in October in Las Vegas. To become part of the ERC, visit www.research.accountingtoday.com/welcome.

So for this issue, it's the old and the new, and if you'll pardon the obvious pun, we're confident you'll enjoy both.

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