The Path to Partner: 13 Key Attributes
The path to partner is not easy but can be very rewarding for many years to come. The attributes of a partner candidate typically include pride in the profession, a commitment to quality and appropriate technical skills, enthusiasm to service clients as a trusted advisor, and dedication to the best interests of the firm, its clients and staff.
Managers who aspire to become partners should possess the following traits:
- Love servicing clients. Understand what clients need and deserve. Strives to have clients seek out your advice and counsel.
- Respect partners and employees of the firm. Be a mentor and counselor who is fair and objective to staff.
- Take calculated risks to grow and improve the firm. Be entrepreneurial. Be willing to invest personal capital into the firm.
- Have a good network. Establish peer relationships with professionals outside of the firm such as attorneys, bankers, high-net-worth individuals and corporate executives. Develop good practice development skills and the potential to bring in new business each year. Receive referrals from clients.
- Be recognized as a team player. Be a role model to young and upcoming staff. Have the ability to remain calm in times of crisis. Don’t make emotional decisions.
- Prioritize the needs of the firm. Take the initiative to complete tasks and projects on a timely basis.
- Be willing to delegate. Assign interesting and challenging work and transition clients to up-and-coming staff.
- Be accountable. Make no excuses for underachieving.
- Stay current. Continuously learn. Upgrade your technical skills.
- Be a good communicator. Ensure that you communication skills are clear, concise and confident when dealing with clients, staff and partners.
- Have enthusiasm. Have a positive attitude for the profession, the firm and clients.
- Understand the business of public accounting. Know the importance of increasing profitability each year. Have a history of timely billing and collections, along with high-realization clients.
- Be willing to assist. Help in resolving conflict between partners and staff by acting as a liaison between people in the firm.
These are great times to be a partner at a public accounting firm. By developing the attributes above, true professionals will take a straight path to partner in the right firm and not make it a distant journey.
Joseph A. Tarasco
Joseph A. Tarasco, CEO and senior consultant, Accountants Advisory Group, LLC, assists the leaders of public accounting firms by consulting in all areas of firm practice management, including succession and strategic planning, firm governance, mergers and acquisitions, partner compensation structure, practice development, facilitating partner retreats, and leadership consulting. He is a member of the NJCPA Content Advisory Board and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.