Art of Accounting: First-time partner, part 2

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You may or may not feel different the first day you wake up as a partner, but you will be different.

People’s perceptions of you will have changed. You will now be a partner and as such an owner, a prestigious person within the profession and someone whose voice will speak with greater authority.

Your clients will view you as someone who can represent the firm and bind the firm with mere utterances floating from your mouth—or in some cases from an unaware emotion or distempered facial expression. Your presence will also generate more excitement and authority.

Your previous co-workers will view you as one of their “bosses.” As a boss you will be perceived as someone who can fire them…or offer them a promotion at some point. You will no longer be one of the boys or girls; you will be one of “them” and will lose the simple frankness between colleagues.

To the outside world, you will have achieved an esteemed, respected position and will be deferred to if an opinion is required. You might even be sought out by reporters looking for an authoritative quote on some matter that people think accountants are expert in.

What you do, how you appear and dress, whether you show up on time, volunteer or provide an initial contribution to a fundraising effort will be scrutinized, thought about and possibly matched.

An unguarded moment of anger, denigrating remark or off-color joke can create a negative impression of your firm that no amount of good works by the other partners could erase. Yet, no one will know or recall the genesis of the negativity.

Your responsiveness to emails, postal mail, phone calls and staff questions will determine your influence. A lack of responsiveness or tardiness will vitiate the impression you should want to promote.

You will be a role model. Be one who should be emulated, not one who transmits an undesirable influence.

You will be different the first time you wake up as a partner, so you must behave as such. Let what you do reflect favorably on you, your firm and our profession. Perception does become the reality.

However, that first day when you wake up, do not act differently toward your family, friends or yourself—they and you will know the reality of who you are!

And, congratulations! Act in a way that shows you deserve the trust your partners placed in you.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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