Thursday, August 12th, 2021

The Overwhelmed Managing Partner

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Not too long ago, I heard a managing partner in a mid-size firm lament that he was overwhelmed with what he had to do as a managing partner. His firm wasn’t big enough for an HR department or a full-time Controller, so much of the administrative management work fell on his shoulders.

This brought to mind the fact that even very small firms need a true firm administrator. I know firms that have under ten people and have a firm administrator in place. One very successful firm (a former client) had one administrative person and her title was Firm Administrator. She did it all! This sole proprietor was freed up to do what he loved to do and what made the firm successful – he consulted with clients in a special niche (what a concept!).

Even in small firms, a firm administrator can take on much of the work surrounding recruiting and hiring. They can handle the renewal of various insurance policies including professional liability. In many small to mid-size firms (headcount 50 or under), the firm administrator (practice manager is now the preferred title), is also the marketing person, the HR person, and the billing person. I refer to these multi-talented practice managers as “working” practice managers because they also process tax returns and financial statements. Obviously, these tasks are mostly handled by an administrative assistant but during peak times the practice manager must pitch in.

Does it make financial sense? Yes. If a professional practice manager can save an MP even 20 hours per month and he/she uses those twenty hours to consult with clients, that would amount to almost $70,000 per year (if your equity partner billing rate is $290 as noted in the Rosenberg Survey). I believe a practice manager can save you a lot more than 20 hours per month.

So, if you are a managing partner that is feeling overwhelmed with admin work, hire a talented, professional practice manager. The CPA Firm Management Association can be a great resource for learning more about hiring a practice manager and managing a CPA firm.

  • "Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out."
  • Ronald Reagan

Leave a Reply