In the three years I’ve been at the helm of Accounting Today, I’ve managed to receive about a dozen or so speaking invitations a year. In my official capacity at AcToday, I’m not allowed to accept an honorarium, of course, but, depending on the time of my presentation, the sponsors allow me second helpings of either croissants or rubber chicken breast and rice pilaf.

It doesn’t work wonders for my waistline, but the folks in the accounts payable department don’t argue too strenuously if I submit a few less meal receipts.

Which brings us to the matter at hand.

In the inevitable Q&A sessions that follow each speech, I would say that, aside from being asked to provide a behind-the-scenes ‘gossip sheet’ on the American Institute of CPAs, one of the more frequently asked questions from attendees is to give my prognostication of what to expect in the merger and acquisition landscape.

And I thought this was going to be hard.

While there are far brighter minds than myself in the profession dispensing just such information to deep-pocketed clients at about $1,000 an hour, I usually don my swami garb (figuratively, that is) and try to give an honest answer.

It will be a definite maybe.

And the reason I say that is that I view M&A activity much like pre-season picks and scouting reports.

Rare are the dire predictions from coaches and general managers who, in essence, tell fans, “Better stay home and save your money. We’re really going to suck this year.”

Nope. It’s more like, “The other teams in our division will be in the rear view mirror.”

Likewise most top execs at acquisition-minded firms are often quoted with the usual metaphors like “revving up our M&A engines” or “actively seeking potential merger candidates.” “We’re on the prowl” is another favorite of mine.

Even new faces at consolidators like Centerprise are throwing around the M&A acronym like beads at Mardi Gras.

And, if you’ll overlook the campy cliché, its not like the profession’s M&A engines have been stalled.

Over the past month a number of larger firms have recently been busy in the M&A arena led by the merger of Dixon Odom and Crisp Hughes Evans into an entity titled Dixon Hughes,

LarsonAllen’s merger with Stienessen, Schlegel & Co., BKD and EKW & Associates, Wausau, Wis.- based Wipfli merging with Williams-Young and Horne CPA Group with Grannis Witensant & Assoc.

At my most recent engagement, an attendee asked me if I could see the possibility of any firms just below the Big Four level merging.

Sure, it could always happen I told him, but considering the logistics involved with such a union, I’m doubtful.

But then again, I was convinced that a TV spin-off of the movie M.A.S.H. wouldn’t last a half-season.

No wonder I don’t get paid.

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