Thursday, November 4th, 2021

Committees

“A committee can make a decision that is dumber than any of its members.” – David Coblitz

I have observed that most CPA firms have too many committees.

Have you ever served on a committee? I’m sure you have. My experience is that at committee meetings there is a lot of discussions, sometimes debates, and even arguments. After the meeting, not much gets accomplished, and then time goes by and it’s time for the next committee meeting.

If you have a mid-size firm (say, 25-50 people), you have a Managing Partner and a Firm Administrator. Most internal operational issues are handled by the firm administrator with oversight by the MP, while always keeping the other partners informed. Having a committee of partners for anything other than a partner compensation committee is a waste of valuable time, time that could be used to serve clients or bring in new business.

I do believe that a CPA firm should have a Tax Committee and an A&A Committee. Each committee is headed by one partner and comprised of tax or A&A managers, even some seniors and the firm administrator. The other management or operational areas, such as HR, facilities, firm financial, marketing, etc. are handled by the MP and FA (with admin assistance). Once the firm grows, you add an HR Director, Marketing Director, and so on. These support professionals work under the guidance of the MP and FA. The annual salary increase exercise is handled by the MP and FA and approved by the partner group.

If you have a special need for a certain project, such as rolling out new software, establish a task force comprised of people at different levels in the firm. When the project is done, the task force ceases to exist.

Keep in mind if too many people are “in charge”, not much happens. Someone needs to be accountable. Of course, the size of the firm, rate of growth, and geographic location all influence these topics.

Bottom line, if you have a firm administrator/practice manager, empower them and hold them accountable.

  • "A camel is a horse designed by a committee."
  • Alec Issigonis

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