Secrecy Over What It Takes To Be a Partner

CPA firm partners keep lots of things secret at their firms that should be open.  One of them is a written document stating the firm’s criteria for making partner.  The main explanation we hear for not having such a document is that they are afraid creation of this document will backfire.  They are afraid that an underperforming staff will waive this document in front of the MP’s face, informing him/her that he/she has fulfilled all the criteria for making partner and demanding a date when coronation will happen.  By avoiding formalization of partner criteria, and thus making it “secret,” this gives partners some “wiggle room” in making decisions on partner promotions.

 But this secrecy creates problems in the leadership development area.  If talented staff don’t know what it takes to become partner and have minimal conversation with partners about becoming a partner, this will greatly hinder the firm’s ability to develop their young staff into partners.

 Being a partner in a CPA firm is a great job!  The pay is fabulous.  Opportunities to help clients abound.   Every day presents a new challenge.  Partners need to communicate this loud and clear to their staff.  When this is done, it’s inevitable that your staff will want to know how they can become a partner. 

 For a handout on criteria for promotion to partner, click the highlighted words.  Discuss with your partners the benefits of creating a written document that clarifies what it takes to become a partner.

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  1. Samim Ardeishar on October 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    What is the beer/wine test?

    • Avatar photo Marc Rosenberg on October 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      You should be partners with people with whom you would enjoy having a beer or a glass of wine with them. If the prospect of having a beer or glass of wine with your partner causes you to have an anxiety attack, you shouldn’t be a partner with this person.

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