Art of Accounting: How partners can grow

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Only one partner in an accounting firm is the managing partner. Every other partner has a specific role, which is centered on serving clients, mentoring staff and assisting in growing the practice. Peripheral to that is the need for partners to grow individually because that is what will propel the firm’s further growth.

Growth cannot be accomplished without relinquishing some of the current workload. This is done by enabling and empowering managers and supervisors to step up to assume the roles you had before becoming elevated to partner. It also means stepping away from the responsibilities you assumed so you could become a partner. You became a partner because you did your boss’s job…each step of the way. Now you have to let others do yours.

I’ve spoken to many new partners from firms of all sizes all over the country and I hear a common question: “If I reduce my client involvement, where will my chargeable time come from?”

I want to answer that question next week. Today I want to lay out some of the traditional roles of a partner.

Partners need to grow. The following are nine ways to grow using the so-called traditional methods:

1. Organic growth, with added services and fee increases from existing clients;

2. External growth, by bringing in new clients;

3. Acquiring additional skills that could be provided to clients, making you a recognized “go-to” person;

4. Expanding industry expertise;

5. Developing niches to support marketing to obtain clients in those niches;

6. Becoming a leader in staff growth and development;

7. Extending staff longevity, i.e., becoming a catalyst for reduced staff turnover;

8. Being properly trained and using the most current technology;

9. Having happy clients who refer you and accept annual fee increases.

I suggest that each partner, and in particular new partners, come up with their annual goals in each area and review their performance quarterly.

The point I want to make is that partners cannot stagnate; they need to grow, so the firm can grow.

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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