As you know if you have been reading this column over the last few years, I don't like celebrating New Year's Eve. First of all, a lot of people drink too much on December 31st, the restaurants charge as much as they can get away with, and driving at 4 a.m. is like driving in the midst of rush hour. Despite this, I still reevaluate what happened over the last year identifying what I think is significant. This exercise helps to put me in a more favorable position to deal with what the future holds.

Being in publishing, I do it now when I receive my December issue of Practical Accountant. Here's what I think were the important trends reported in the pages of the 2004 issues of Practical Accountant

* The proliferation of mega-regional accounting firms.

* Sarbanes-Oxley was identified as a revenue-generating opportunity and quickly capitalized upon by a number of firms.

* Valuation, forensic accounting, and litigation support all continued to grow as very profitable practice areas.

* The AICPA is having greater success with its major initiatives as it focuses more on the bread and butter issues facing the profession.

* The smaller firms, in particular, are now paying the price of making staff members into partners simply because they feared losing them.

* The interest in accounting as a major in college grew partially in response to the financial scandals.

* Going paperless really took off.

* Tax prep outsourcing is searching for its fit into the right business model for accountants.

* Accounting firms are getting tremendous value from firm associations, networks, and alliances, especially in practice development, practice administration, and providing international and national reach via other member firms.

The only problem in celebrating the New Year early, is that it is very difficult to find the proper noisemaker. But I consider a cacophony of silence, a small price to pay. Happy New Year!

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