Welcome back!

Following a month-long string of holiday parties, family gatherings and severely depleted supplies of antacid tablets, I'm sure many of you are refreshed and rested enough - if not anxious - to tackle the myriad challenges that lie ahead in 2010.

As 2009 was winding to a close, I was on my evening commute home when I found myself seated next to a partner of one of country's largest firms. He predicted that 2010 would translate to a rather lean year for the Big Four, as well as for the tier of national firms just below them - a result of margin pressures as well as the usual confluence of economy-induced factors. Conversely, I felt that the small and midsized firms might suffer a bit more, as the larger players with greater resources had the luxury of undercutting fee prices and services.

I also feel - as do several minds far brighter than mine - that firm mergers will remain strong in 2010. You probably couldn't help but notice that 2009 closed out with a flurry of deals, an impressive scorecard capped by the mega-combination of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause absorbing Beers & Cutler. There's little debate that the typical accelerants driving M&A - lack of succession planning, overwhelming market competition, et al. - will likely keep our editorial staff hopping with M&A stories.

Expect the profession to be embroiled in a slew of potentially game-changing issues. Tax reform, which has been kicked and passed around like a holiday fruitcake, will likely be studied for a while longer, considering the overflow of responses and suggestions that were received by the tax subcommittee of the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Apparently, the group was overwhelmed by the number of opinions and suggestions it received on its Web site.

The profession will also face other potential mandates, such as tax preparer registration for non-Circular 230 preparers, the possible specter of a Federal Accounting Oversight Board, International Financial Reporting Standards and legislation to repeal the patenting of tax strategies.

With regard to Accounting Today, we feel we may have compiled our most compelling editorial line-up since our debut in 1987. With the July merger of Practical Accountant and Accounting Technology into the core publication, we pledged to bolster our technology and practice management sections to carry on the strongest niches of our former siblings. With our initial issue of 2010, we address such critical professional issues as the ongoing and red-hot market for firm mergers and acquisitions, and the major tax law changes for 2010, as well as burgeoning technologies such as client portals.

But we don't stop there. Throughout the year, we'll report in-depth on topics like green initiatives, mobile computing, how to position your clients for recovery, business intelligence and career customization. Buoyed by the tremendous reception of our Accounting Tomorrow section for younger professionals and newly minted CPAs, we can promise more of the same in 2010.

For those of you who have been with us from the beginning, we thank you for your contuinued support - and if you're a new subscriber, welcome aboard!

As always, feel free to drop me a line. We'd love to hear from you.

Enjoy!

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