Any good accountant will tell you that a number remains itself, no matter how much you may want it to be a bigger one.Take the number 100, for instance.

As the profession expands both in the services it offers and in its importance to business, the number of people playing important roles in it naturally expands as well. But since we can't bend the most basic rules of mathematics to fit more than 100 people in the Top 100, some previous residents must, inevitably, give up their spots every year.

This means that there's always a small pool of seriously influential people who we can't fit on the list. This year we're providing a glimpse of a few of them - some of whom we're sure you'll be seeing on future Top 100 lists.

First, consider a pair of old SEC hands: former chair Arthur Levitt and former chief accountant Donald Nicolaisen, who have been called back by the Treasury to head the Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession, which is charged with studying subjects such as the concentration and stability of large audit firms, and exposure to lawsuits. It's too soon to tell how much influence the committee's recommendations will have, but with these two past members of the Top 100 on board, we'll be paying attention.

Also hailing from the Treasury is the new acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Linda Stiff. Ordinarily, the commissioner is a shoo-in for the Top 100, and Stiff is a veteran with a great deal of experience - but we've already seen two commissioners depart this year for the Red Cross, and we're not sure if the charity is still hiring. Nonetheless, Stiff will bear watching.

Rounding out the government end of the pool are two legislators, Reps. Barney Frank, D.-Mass., and Charles Rangel, D.-N.Y., both of whom chair important financial committees. But with a war and a presidential election going on, there's no telling how much time they'll have for issues of concern to the profession.

There are many, of course, who focus on little else: Take Ken Bishop, who has been traveling the country as chairman of NASBA's Mobility Task Force, aiming to get 30 states to implement legislation allowing CPAs to practice across borders more easily by the end of 2008. Or Jeff Chin, the former Ernst & Young partner who in 2005 founded an organization for Asian-Americans in accounting and finance called Ascend, and has seen it boom in membership since. Or Robert Gallagher, the widely respected management consultant who maintains a comprehensive and up-to-date list of all the books the well-informed firm leader needs to read. (For more on crucial reading, see "Title fight," page 8.)

Finally, we'll name two other figures to keep an eye on, one of whom has just entered an important post, and another who has just stepped down from one.

After over 30 years with Crowe Group, Charles "Chuck" Allen this year succeeded Mark Hildebrand as chief executive of the Indiana-based powerhouse. With 2006 revenues of over $422 million, Crowe is a major player, and how Allen positions it for the future will definitely be of interest.

Doug Burgum, meanwhile, has been a mainstay of the Top 100 for over a decade, first at Great Plains, and until recently at Microsoft. While he left Microsoft early this summer without announcing his future plans, it's hard to imagine Burgum not being influential, no matter what he ends up doing.

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