Monday, December 15th, 2014

Solution to Succession – “Sell Out”

I was reading the story on Crain’s Chicago Business about a smaller firm “selling out.”

The MP and his partner are nearing retirement and no one at the firm was ready to take over. Sound familiar?

They talked to a similar size firm (15 people) and decided that a combination wouldn’t solve their problem. So they “sold out” to a firm about six times bigger than their firm.

A common story, you say. Yes, that’s right.

Todd Shapiro, president and CEO of the Illinois Society was quoted: “If you don’t have your succession plan by age 50, you’re going to sell your firm.” Just think how many firms are in this boat!

Here’s the part, from the managing partner of the smaller firm, that made me sad. I have heard similar comments by scores of small firm MPs.

The managing partner says he not only expects to adjust to his new role as one member of  the larger firms 13-person partner group, but he also welcomes the chance to focus on client work rather than management. “I’m not going to miss it,” he says.

My wish is that more CPA firm managing partners would make a heroic effort to learn more about management, read more about management, experiment with exciting trends, learn from their mistakes, engage with their people, quickly make decisions for “the good of the firm” and come to love managing their firm and be proud of their management accomplishments.

The managing partner of the larger firm, that has acquired 10 firms in the last eight years, was quoted as saying, pertaining to finding the right acquisitions, “I kiss a lot of frogs.”  Don’t let your firm be a frog.

  • "Life is like a movie. Write your own ending."
  • Kermit the Frog

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