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For accountants with the career aspiration to make Partner, it is imperative that you are clear on what type of Partner you would like to be and what the ideal role looks like for you.
Understanding what the role looks like in different size firms and regions will help you to plan your route to make Partner at the right firm for you.
In order to help you plot a route to put yourself in the best position to achieve this, there are a number of factors to consider.
Common Goals and Strategic Direction
It is important that you have clarity on the firm’s growth strategy in the short, medium, and long term in order to assess if this is the right place for you.
You need to be clear on what you stand for and want to achieve which has to be aligned with the firm, providing you with confidence that you can succeed and contribute.
Most Partners must have a financial interest in the firm – you may want to view this as an investment decision. With a decision of this nature, due diligence is imperative.
So, ask yourself the question – “Do I want to be in business with the other partners?”
From a different perspective, would you personally invest X amount of money into this business?
It is a case of making a calculated and considered decision based on research and asking the right questions.
Making Partner at an accountancy firm enables you to significantly increase your earning potential. But have you asked yourself the question - what are Partners earning at other firms?
You may have a good idea of the package on offer to Partners at your current firm but how does this compare to the rest of the market?
The market is currently going through a period of change, meaning you ought to be taking a look at the packages on offer elsewhere so you have a clear idea of what the market looks like.
You wouldn’t want to go through the Partner process only to find out you could be earning more at a different firm with the same responsibility.
Another key consideration when it comes to remuneration and the nature of the role is the size of the firm.
You could be a small cog in a big wheel and be paid a lot for just doing the job, compared with a Partner role in a smaller firm with real leadership responsibility and being more entrepreneurial, but possibly earning less.
How many levels are there to the Partnership?
At some accountancy firms, there are multiple levels to the partnership leading to equity partner – in some cases, there could be over 10 levels.
Therefore, you may spend the early part of your career devoting your life to making Partner, go through the process only to realise once you have made Partner that you are at the very beginning of being a leader of the firm.
In some ways, it may be similar to going back to the beginning of your career journey as a newly qualified accountant and having to perform in order to stand a chance of being promoted.
This could be different to a firm with a single level to their Partnership. Once you have achieved your career goal, you are part of the leadership team, steering and growing the firm.
How important is flexibility and responsibility to you?
Becoming a partner provides you with the opportunity to run and shape the accountancy firm, and have a say and input on the strategic direction and growth of the business.
But have you considered how much say you may have or would like?
Potentially, the bigger the partnership, the less say you may have. If there are multiple layers, the harder it could be to get your voice heard and implement ideas.
Being part of a mid-tier or large independent firm will possibly provide a greater opportunity to put your stamp on the firm, service line, or office.
This is of particular interest to several professionals as sector specialisms and niches are growing in popularity.
For example, if you have a particular passion for sustainability, manufacturing, real estate, or life sciences, are you going to be able to build a client base and team in this area?
When making Partner, you shift from being employed to being self-employed which can be a challenge to adapt to, requiring an entrepreneurial mindset that not everyone has.
It requires an entrepreneurial way of thinking, to lead from the front, and understanding that the buck stops with you on most occasions, although you will have other Partners to consult with.
It can be difficult to make the transition to being the business owner as opposed to being owned by the business – so to speak.