How to Leave Your Firm

I had an innovative younger CPA come to meet with me earlier this year with the question of how to leave his firm.  Let's call him "dude."  See, the firm dude was in was totally messed up.  Its a huge firm with many offices and many partners (blah, blah, blah).  But, as usual, they are doing stupid stuff.  This guy that came to visit me was a Manager, and knew a few other Managers at the firm.  If they would complete audits too soon, then the partners would call them and scold them!  "You need to be billing hours," they would say.  Dumber than dumb.

Because they finished early, made more money for the firm and were available for additional work... they received a tongue lashing.  This is the kind of crap that is killing our profession.  They should have received a bonus and given a day off with full pay.  I'm serious.  But that would be out of the ordinary and uncharacteristic of CPAs... so we don't do it.

So, of course, dude is leaving, and so are the other Managers.  I don't blame them.  I encouraged dude that things can be done differently and that he needs to be in his own firm.  But what can he do?  He has a family and needs a paycheck.  He could:

- Buy a firm.  Problems: He needs capital, and he would have to transform a traditional firm into a New Firm, which is what I've had to do.  This is hard and takes years.  You have to be patient.  Upside: He's got a freakin' paycheck.

- Work in the corporate world and build his practice on the side.  Problems: This will take a long time doing service in the boring world of corporate accounting (I just about shot myself in the head doing this).  {{picture here: Kevin from The Office}}  Upside: He's got a freakin' paycheck.

- Find a partner at a smaller firm that is interested in retiring over the next few years.  Dude could work there with a 3 year transition period in place.  Problems: He'll probably have to take a significant pay cut to do that, and may blow his brains out trying to innovate in a space like that.  Upside:  He'll own his own firm in a short time period and can start the process of Change.

- Join the THRIVEal +CPA Network, a community of younger hipper CPAs and CAs (Chartered Accountants) from around the world that are changing the profession of public accounting one firm at a time.  These people are progressive and are always doing weird stuff that isn't allowed in the general accountancy world.  They'll have a lot of ideas during one of our Community Calls.  He could also join the 12 week online coaching course at THRIVEal called Pioneering the New Firm (more on that later).  This will go live this July and run through December and will be a time of challenge and growth with 8 to 10 other people doing the same thing.  Problems: Freakin' none.  Upside: Freakin' yeah!!!

What do you think dude should do?

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Jason M. Blumer, CPA.CITP, CFE is managing shareholder of Blumer & Associates, CPAs, PC. He wears flip flops and jeans, says "dude" a lot, and often works in coffee shops with headphones blaring the latest Bloomberg podcasts (though he doesn't understand most of it). Jason loves new game-changing cloud technology and plays rock and roll too loud. His daily duties include consulting, process design, blogging, marketing and business development, innovative thinking, coaching, practice management, and acting as a change agent. As the industry has changed, the need for new CPA firm leadership has emerged for the younger generation ready to move into the world of firm ownership.  Jason founded the THRIVEal +CPA Network to accommodate the needs of this new younger generation.  The THRIVEal +CPA Network looks to enhance and change the CPA profession based on the foundational tenets of Community, Collaboration, Technology and Innovation.

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