insight magazine

Making Partnership More Appealing to Your CPAs

It’s time to rethink your approach if fewer staff are stepping up and willing to do “what it takes” to make partner in your firm. By Rachel Anevski MAOB, PHR, SHRM-CP | Digital Exclusive - 2019


Making partner isn’t what it used to be. CPAs no longer go door to door to sell commodities like tax returns and audits. Accountants are no longer interested in one career or staying with just one firm. Staff don’t want to put in the hours, equity, or sweat. They don’t want to hear, “Let’s talk when you start bringing in business.” Fewer staff are stepping up and willing to do “what it takes” to make partner. They are not like us. Sound familiar?

A Closer Look

Making partnership more appealing to younger generations begins with taking a good look at the behavior current partners exhibit. Does your existing partner group stay the latest in the office, never take vacation, anger easily, lose patience frequently, often speak negatively about the revolving staff or lack of payment from clients? These types of behaviors are some of the major reasons younger generations are looking for alternatives to partnership.

If you are a partner reading this, think about all the reasons you love being a partner. Do you love feeling empowered to make decisions, meeting interesting clients you get to make lifelong friendships with, and becoming a trusted advisor and the first call your clients make when they need advice? Do you love the flexibility to travel, learn about multiple industries, and gain a birds-eye view into executive strategy? How about the shore house, the fast car, the financial stability, and future secured retirement? What about client perks and all that GOLF? All of these are reasons to celebrate your role as partner and should be shared with upcomers, mentees, and the future of your firm.

Finding Leaders

There are leaders everywhere. But, no one wants to join a group of individuals that dislike their work or aren’t happy to arrive each day. Ready to put in another 12 hours today…who’s with me? When was the last time you told someone you loved what you do, or that you were happy with your choice to become a partner? In fact, when was the last time you shared with someone of the younger generation what it would mean to become a partner? Young accountants know the job description of a CFO or a controller, yet few know the job description of a partner. Transparency is key to developing future partners.

The future of partnerships means more than just a buy-in, a decided amount of new revenue to bring in each year, or a designated book of business to manage. The appeal of becoming partner one day means that you get to own a piece of the puzzle with others who share your vision and values. Furthermore, you get to share these ideals with future generations. Becoming partner means that you have earned one of the highest levels as a CPA. As a partner, other business owners weigh your words and decisions more importantly. As a partner, you may be charged with certain areas within the firm to manage, such as marketing or human capital. You will have more opportunities to give back to the community and make a difference.

The Benefits of Partnership

Staffers have many reasons to strive for partner. Aside from the obvious monetary benefits, partners are able to:

Lead others. Partners can make an impact that affects large groups of individuals. They have reached a level of mastery within the profession that is recognized by ownership and that is shared with others.

Create policy (and vote on it). Partners don’t just work for the company but also towards the company’s goals and objectives.

Experience gratitude from various clients and their staff for helping them become successful.

Exhibit their education, experience and career passion in a way that allows for others to view them at the top, among peers.

The way to a more appealing future isn’t limited to enticing staff with flexible schedules, casual dress codes, or having bean bags and foosball tables. It comes when management encourages the next generation to realize that being in a partnership is a wonderful way to celebrate true dedication to the profession, where sharing one’s talent is appreciated both internally and externally.

Rachel Anevski, MAOB, PHR, SHRM-CP, is the founder and CEO of Matters of Management LLC, a consulting and talent acquisition firm specializing in professional services. This article is provided courtesy of the March/April 2019 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine.

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