Slideshow The Top People in Public Accounting – 2017

  • September 04 2017, 1:06am EDT
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At the center of things

Each year as part of our Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting list, we ask candidates for the list to name who they think are the most influential people in the field, and here they are, ranked by the number of votes they received from the 119 candidates.

You can see the official Top 100 People report here (registration required).

Darren Root<P> CEO, Rootworks

Trusted advisors trust Root to help them make their practices better than ever, using his own practice as a test lab for the advice he shares with firms nationwide, and recently for Liscio, the online platform he rolled out this summer to make working with clients frictionless.

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John Koskinen<P> Commissioner, IRS

His term may be ending this fall, but Koskinen’s attempts to defend the IRS from legislators who insist it do more with less, as well as his leadership in fighting tax-related ID theft attempts, will reverberate long after he steps down.

Cathy Engelbert <P> CEO, Deloitte

As the first woman to lead a Big Four firm, Engelbert is a powerful symbol, but while she may embrace that – for example, with a recent initiative to bring gender diversity to boardrooms – she’s also got a firm to run, with a high growth rate and an eye on the issues of the future, like the role of technology and artificial intelligence.

James Doty<P> Chairman, PCAOB

The SEC may be looking for his successor, but Doty is so influential that they asked him to help, and he shows no signs of letting up in his pursuit of high-quality financial reporting and auditing – no matter whose toes that may step on.

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Erik Asgeirsson<P> CEO,

Along with his team at, Asgeirsson is a tireless evangelist for all the ways technology can serve the profession – and help it serve its clients better.

Jennifer Wilson<P> Co-founder and owner, ConvergenceCoaching

When Wilson talks, people listen – even when she’s delivering uncomfortable truths about the dysfunctions that rule too many firms, and how they need to change in order to develop and keep new leaders, ensure succession, and build the profession going forward.

Donald Trump <P> U.S. president

The president’s agenda is full of items that could potentially have a major impact on the profession, with tax reform currently heading the list, while his administration’s strong efforts to reduce regulation are already changing compliance requirements in ways that directly affect accountants.

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Ron Baker<P> Founder, VeraSage Institute

Every year, more and more accountants buy into Baker’s message about the need to switch to value pricing – and that means more and more are ready to hear his larger message about the need for innovation, modernization and, most important, transformation.

Russell Golden<P>Chairman, FASB

With major new standards on revenue recognition, lease accounting and credit losses taking effect, Golden and his board will be keeping public accountants and those in industry busy for the foreseeable future.

Jim Bourke<P> Partner, WithumSmith+Brown

Seeing Bourke’s punishing schedule of speaking engagements, it’s easy to forget that he’s a full-time practitioner who runs a major unit of Top 50 Firm, but he does, and it’s the insights he gains from being in the actual trenches that make what he shares so valuable to the thousands and thousands of accountants he trains and educates on technology issues – and that make his devotion to the profession all the more inspiring.

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Allan Koltin<P> CEO, Koltin Consulting Group

In the bright light of the many, many, many major accounting firm mergers Koltin shepherds to completion, it’s easy to lose sight of the countless firms and firm leaders he has coached consulted and cajoled to greater levels of success.

Jay Clayton<P> Chair, SEC

The new chair has plenty on his plate, from charting the commission’s new regulatory and enforcement approach, to finding ways to encourage more companies to go public – to say nothing of finding successors for every member of the PCAOB.

Brad Smith<P> Chairman and CEO, Intuit

While it’s still a major desktop presence, Smith has turned Intuit’s focus firmly to the cloud, with the majority of its new QuickBooks clients coming in through QBO, and he has the company constantly scouting the future for new tools and technologies to delight its users.

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Kimberly Ellison-Taylor<P> Chair, AICPA

As a black woman, Ellison-Taylor breaks barriers, but it’s as a leader with a vision of accounting’s future, and the ability to communicate both that vision and her love for the profession to accountants everywhere, that have allowed to her take the chair’s traditional influence to an entirely new level.

Tom Hood<P> CEO and executive director, MACPA

Rarely has a keen eye for the future been combined with such infectious enthusiasm and tremendous communication skills: The depth of Hood’s influence is only rivalled by the breadth of his vision for the profession.

Barry Melancon<P> President and CEO, AICPA

As one of the T100 said, “It feels like Barry should be on the list without explanation” – but just to be safe, we’ll note that no one understands or explains the current state of the profession better, no one, no one is better able to mobilize the profession to address the threats, changes and opportunities that are coming down the pike, and no one else could have created the new international mega-association that has expanded the AICPA acronym around the world.