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4 Steps to Take Now to Ensure You're a Future Partner

With a competitive job market for CPAs who are career-minded and looking to move through the ranks to partner, finding a firm that supports that progression is key.

Jan 23rd 2020
Partner ShindelRock
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At many public accounting firms, there’s a certain pinnacle position in the organization that carries both privilege and responsibility: partner. Whether your firm has one partner or many, reaching that level can mean more autonomy, increased compensation and a voice in firm-wide decisions. 

With a competitive job market for CPAs who are career-minded and looking to move through the ranks to partner, finding a firm that supports that progression is key. If making partner is one of your career goals, ask yourself if your firm is helping prime that path for you.

Here are four things leaders should be doing to help you reach the next, and maybe ultimate, step in your career:

1. Introduce You as the Lead on Client Projects 

Your partners should give you multiple chances to interact with clients and show you’re championing their work. Not only does it grow your relationship with the clients, it gives you confidence and experience managing the many personalities and complex assignments that come across a partner’s desk.

2. Involve You in Firm Decisions 

Years before you become partner, you should be part of the group who makes decisions about the management of the firm.  Raising and solving staff concerns, navigating a cultural merger following a firm acquisition, and setting firm strategy are all subjects that a senior staff member on the path to partner can weigh in on.   

3. Become Involved in the Billing Process 

Billing is an important partner responsibility at many CPA firms, and it can take a new partner many cycles to get comfortable with the process. To best understand the philosophy behind billing and learn your firm’s unique approach, you should have plenty of experience actually billing clients (and responding to clients’ questions) before you become partner.

4. Exposure to Networking Opportunities

Your partners undoubtedly have a vast network of resources whom they call on for leads and client assistance.  Before you make partner, your firm should expose you to this network so you meet the people who are important to the firm today.  Additionally, time allotted in your schedule now to get outside the firm and meet new resources means you’re building your network to support the firm’s success both today and in the future.

Make sure the partner position that’s in your career plan is also in the plans of your firm’s current partners, so they can build a path that gets you there. If it’s not part of their vision for you, perhaps it’s time to find a firm that is ready to help an ambitious accounting professional gain the experience necessary to be a leader in the future.

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