Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Words of Wisdom from a Succession Planning Panel

“It is better to live rich than to die rich.” – Samuel Johnson

At the BDO Alliance conference, the Succession Planning panel was comprised of Marc Rosenberg, Jay Nisberg, Carl George and Bob Lewis. It’s important for you to keep tabs on current trends in the succession area and tweak your own plan as the years go by.

Daniel Hood, Editor of Accounting Today tweeted some great comments from the panel. I have selected a few for your contemplation.

  • Lewis: The first thing to do is look at the gaps – financial gap (can the successors support the retirees?), the talent gap (who can bring in work), the strategy gap (do you know where you want to be in 5 years?)
  • Nisberg: Too many Baby Boomers don’t see the people coming up behind them as having the same strengths they have. I assure you, they do – you just have to trust.
  • Rosenberg: Partners need to have a show-down meeting: When do they want to retire? What do they want from it? It’s a hugely emotional issue.
  • Nisberg: Vision is critical – highly successful firms have a vision that is the culmination of the will of the partners – where they want to go and how they want to get there.
  • Rosenberg: 80% of 1st generation CPA firms don’t make it to the second generation.
  • George: If you don’t put succession planning in partner goals and the compensation system, you will be stuck in the mud.
  • Lewis: It’s important that staff know there’s a succession in place.
  • George: A surprising number of firm leaders don’t understand the business of public accounting.
  • Lewis: In many firms, staff doesn’t understand firm revenue, the actual size of the firm. How can they operate in the dark?
  • George: Start teaching staff the business of public accounting on Day 1 – while you’re onboarding.
  • Rosenberg: Get everyone in the firm to understand how the firm works and how it makes money. That needs to happen at CPA firms. Partners are much too secretive.
  • Rosenberg: Staff doesn’t have a clue how much partners make – give them an idea because it’ll be higher than they expect.
  • Lewis: If a non-equity partner isn’t willing to convert to equity, then you don’t really have a partner.
  • Nisberg: I don’t understand why so many firms rush to M&A when there are so many other options.
  • George: I’m very happy to see more women than ever running firms — and they’re doing a great job.
  • "Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun."
  • Jim Bishop

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