[IMGCAP(1)]We here at Accounting Today are pretty proud of all of our various lists, from our Top 100 Firms and Top New Products reports in late winter, to the series that we're in the middle of now, which runs from our VAR 100 and Top Firms by AUM lists through last month's Top 100 People and this month's Managing Partner Elite, and on through our Best Firms to Work For roster, the members of which were recently announced -- though we're holding back the actual ranking of the list until the end of the month.

Each has its own focus, and attempts to throw light on some particular aspect of public accounting practice, whether it's measuring prowess in reselling or financial planning, identifying the people who are directing the profession into the future, picking the tools that are giving accountants a competitive edge, or naming those firms that are at the forefront of solving the riddle of recruitment and retention. It's our hope that they will serve as guides to their area of concentration, and answer the burning questions that are specific to them: Where are the opportunities in accounting reselling? How do I keep financial planning clients from panicking? Is there anything I can do to keep Millennials at my firm for longer than two years? What are the cutting-edge tools no firm can do without?

While our lists all answer different questions, however, all those different questions are, in a larger sense, just aspects of the one Big Question: How do accounting firms grow?

Marine biologist Woody Allen tells us that sharks that aren't moving are dying; the same is true of firms that aren't growing. The pursuit of growth comes in many forms -- forms that we attempt to highlight in our many lists. It comes in the niche-building and M&A strategies pursued by our Top 100 Firms, and in the adoption of our Top New Products, which either bring new efficiencies or open up entirely new service offerings (or both). It comes in the mastery of client psychology demonstrated by our Top Firms by Assets Under Management, and in the growth paths and best practices being pioneered by our Top 100 People. It lies in the management and leadership skills of the Managing Partner Elite that are the focus of this issue, and in the HR policies and deep concern for their employees demonstrated by our Best Firms to Work For.

Because these lists take so much time and effort to compile, we have to spread them out across the year -- which means that, while we get to answer all the individual questions, we don't get many opportunities to bring all those answers together to directly address the Big Question: How do accounting firms grow?

For that, we need something a little bigger than a list, which is why we created our Growth & Profitability Summit, an annual conference aimed squarely at the Big Question. The third of these summits will be held at the end of this month, October 28-30, in Boca Raton, Fla., and will draw on all of our lists to give attendees the vital intelligence they need to expand their business. A host of expert speakers -- many drawn from the ranks of our Top 100 People -- will show you how to manage M&A like the best of the Top 100 Firms, how to lead like our MP Elite, how to integrate tech tools like our Top New Products into your practice, and how to handle your staff like the Best Firms to Work For. We'll also be announcing the rankings for that list, so many of those firms will be joining us. In fact, our attendees include representatives from firms on all of our different rankings, so it's also an excellent chance to network and share strategies with the best of the best.

And yes, there still spots available in Boca. It would be cruel of us to describe it in such detail and not invite you. We hope you can join us there, and we'll answer the Big Question together.

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