Archive for the ‘Succession Planning’ Category

Monday, September 12th, 2022

Registration Is Open For The Partner Institute 2023

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

Now is the time to invest in the future of your firm. My friends at The Growth Partnership have announced plans for the 2023 TPI.

The Partner Institute has been training partners and future partners since 2004

When you talk with any of the top consultants or leading practitioners in the profession, they confirm that developing an effective successor generation is the number one issue facing accounting firms today.

Why? Research conducted by the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section shows that while 60 percent of CPA firms have owners between ages 55 and 62, over 81 percent of firms have no documented succession plan. These staggering statistics have many firms scrambling to find the next generation leaders in their firms—leaders who will excel in the areas of practice development, performance management, and strategic thinking.

Enroll Now for the 2023 Class
Download the Registration Form Here
From leadership training to results. Sophisticated firms realize that leadership development isn’t something they can simply delegate to “one of the partners” (someone who may have little to no formal training or education on how to develop leaders or serve as an effective mentor and coach)— it’s a deliberate process, precisely crafted with an intentional focus. Sending your future leaders to limited “quick-fix” programs or conferences isn’t a long-term prescription for success. In his Harvard Business Review blog, Ron Ashkenas, managing partner of Robert H. Schaffer & Associates, demonstrates that translating leadership training into results requires a special blend of training, mentoring, and perpetual practice.

The Partner Institute is a comprehensive three-year leadership development experience designed specifically for the CPA. Our program provides participants with world-class training, a continuous learning environment, and a culture of accountability that is unmatched.

  • Leadership is a way of thinking, a way of acting and, most importantly, a way of communicating.
  • Simon Sinek

Thursday, February 24th, 2022

Many Concerns

“The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.” – Alan Sporta

One of the most educational and helpful activities I have experienced in building my knowledge of CPA firm management was the opportunity to meet with groups of managing partners from various firms across the country and listen to them discuss their biggest concerns. I did this when my firm was a member of a CPA firm association and also when I spoke at many of the various CPA firm association meetings. If your firm is not a member of a firm association, you should explore the opportunity.

Experienced managing partners (and firm administrators) have the best insight into what makes a CPA firm tick; what makes it successful and what doesn’t work so well. They also always have a list of concerns. Right now, of course, for most firms finding and hiring talent is at the top of most lists.

Here are some other concerns that I often hear about:

  • Succession
  • Efficiency and inefficiency in processes
  • Partner burn-out
  • Identifying future leaders
  • Training future leaders
  • Losing people to other firms
  • Women’s issues and other diversity issues
  • Dealing with cultural issues after a merger
  • The rapid evolution of technology and funding it
  • Deciding whether to stay independent or merge-up

I am sure you can add to this list. For now, keep a list like this and gather your partners immediately after tax season, discuss the issues, prioritize the issues and, get busy solving the issues.

  • You aren't famous until my mother has hear of you.
  • Jay Leno

Friday, March 12th, 2021

The Wisdom Transfer – Flashback Friday

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

Here’s a post from 2019 on the various aspects of succession planning. One important thing that is often overlooked is the wisdom transfer.

  • The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
  • Isaac Asimov

Monday, March 1st, 2021

Succession Planning

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

There are many different ways to address succession planning and client transition. This topic is often discussed inside accounting firms. Some firms have elaborate and formal succession plans that are well-documented.

I have observed that many firms, especially small to medium-size firms have not dedicated the time and effort to define a more formal plan.

This topic was discussed recently on the CPAFMA Discussion Board. If you are not a member, you should be.

One member admitted that they did not have a formal document but they do have a list to guide their planning for partner retirements. Tricia Duncan, CPA with Jones & Roth shared their firm’s method. I think you will find this plan helpful if you do not have a formal plan. This one is simple, yet effective. Here is Duncan’s comment on the topic:

We don’t have a formal document – we generally start 3-4 years out from the retirement year.  We develop a plan for each individual that addresses:

  • Client relationship
  • Technical expertise
  • Firm responsibilities
  • Community/Niche/Referral relationships
  • Mentor/Team Responsibilities

Generally, start the planning and execution 1-2 years out.  We try to have client relationships transitioned 1 year out so the last year the Partner is on board is more as an advisory role if questions come up. Our new CRM manages the entire relationship.  This has been critical for us.

We’ve successfully transitioned 5+ partners in the last 5 years.


  • If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.
  • Yogi Berra

Monday, November 16th, 2020

Real Skills (Success Skills)

“Some people call these, “soft skills.” That’s because they’re not easy to measure. But for me, they’re real skills. The skills that actually determine how far we’ll go and how it will feel to work with us as we move forward.” – Seth Godin

For many years, in public accounting, we took note of the fact that many accountants dutifully achieved the expert category when it came to technical expertise.

Also, for many years we complained that we employed some very skilled managers but nearly all of them lacked “soft skills.” I like to call them “success skills” because to reach the level of partnership in the firm a candidate had to demonstrate the ability to network in the business community, be a great conversationalist, build relationships, be an adept speaker, manage people and develop personal leadership attributes. I like Godin’s term: Real Skills.

These skills, along with the technical skills, enable a CPA to bring in business to the firm. Some current partners have even developed these skills.

My friend, Guy Gage, @PartnersCoach, has developed the Partner-Pipeline® to assist firm partners to develop the “success skills” necessary to become true firm leaders.

From Guy Gage:

There are five “Contributions” that comprise high-performing partners: strong technical capability; client experience/client relations; new business development; capacity building (talent development), and leadership capability. While no one can be exceptional in all five areas, partner-candidates should be excellent in two and competent in the other three. Since firms have addressed the technical capability, I’ve developed a program that addresses the other four areas.

To learn more about the Partner Pipeline and to download a matrix outlining the program steps that are appropriate for each level in the firm. – Associate, Senior, Supervisor, Manager, and Senior Manager, click here.

It is important to begin the success skills training early in a person’s career so that the firm always has a vibrant and healthy partner pipeline.

  • Firms can only do so much, then it's up to the individual to choose to engage. Teach them HOW with programs and coaching.
  • Guy Gage

Friday, July 24th, 2020

Is It Time To Retire? – Flashback Friday

This week, for Flashback Friday, I have selected a post from February, this year. It was before the you-know-what hit the fan. Maybe retirement is now on your mind more than ever.

Here’s the post:

IS IT TIME TO ACTUALLY RETIRE?

In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned that I had recently re-read Tuesdays with Morrie.

One of Morrie’s wise sayings was:

“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”

He was talking about life. To me, because I have worked with so many Baby Boomer CPAs over the years, it is something that applies to their retirement.

Many are in denial about retirement. They plan to work until they drop. Very short-sighted, indeed. There is so much more in life to experience if you wish it so.

Several situations I know about involve partners retiring but they do not quit working at the firm.

A couple of others involve 80-somethings continuing to come into the office even though they are not able to use the technology any longer.

My advice: Don’t hang on too long.

  • It's not too late to develop new friendships or reconnect with people.
  • Morrie Schwartz

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Partner Buy-Out & Retirement – Webinar

“Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun.” – Jim Bishop 

I get so many questions about what a partner buy-out and retirement should look like. Here’s an opportunity for you to learn about the current trends presented by Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory via CPA Leadership Institute.

October 10, 2018 – 1:00 – 1:50 pm EST – Surviving Succession – Partner Buyout and Retirement.

If you’re like most firms, your partner agreements have not been reviewed or updated in a long time. That is dangerous given the succession issues in our profession today and the number of baby boomers retiring. I will discuss best practices and latest trends in how to value your practice, how to pay out the retiring partner, building your bench, and successful client transition to the next generation.

REGISTER HERE.

 

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Compensation & Succession

“Do your job and demand your compensation – but in that order.” – Cary Grant

Here’s a heads-up regarding two upcoming webinars sponsored by CPA Leadership Institute and presented by Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory. These two topics are usually at the top of the list of partner issues.

Here’s the information regarding date, time and topic:

October 4, 2018 – 1:00 – 1:50 pm EST – Partner Compensation Methods and Trends Update
I will discuss the most common compensation systems in use today and provide my perspective as a former managing partner of a top 200 firm. I will help you determine what is right for your firm and how a firm evolves from one system to the next as it grows. I will also give you some tips on setting up a performance-based system in your firm and how to align your compensation system to your firm’s strategic plan.
October 10, 2018 – 1:00 – 1:50 pm EST – Surviving Succession – Partner Buyout and Retirement.
If you’re like most firms, your partner agreements have not been reviewed or updated in a long time. That is dangerous given the succession issues in our profession today and the number of baby boomers retiring. I will discuss best practices and latest trends in how to value your practice, how to pay out the retiring partner, building your bench, and successful client transition to the next generation.
  • Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.
  • Alan Lakein, author

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Left Standing At The Altar

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” – Rumi

Your accounting firm has several partners in their late 50s or early 60s. You don’t have enough young partners or future partners to take the firm into the future and still pay-out a significant amount of retirement dollars.

What do you do? The popular choice is to seek a larger firm to acquire your firm.

In a recent article for Accounting Today, Terry Putney and Joel Sinkin have shared ways to make your firm more attractive to acquirers. It used to be a seller’s market but it has now become a buyer’s market because so many smaller firms are looking for succession assistance.

A large firm is “looking at” your firm and another firm of similar size. The other firm has embraced technology and you are still not completely paperless. They choose the other firm and leave you standing at the altar.

Here are the Five Ways to Beautify Your Firm For M&A. Follow the link to read helpful descriptions about each of the five ways.

  1. Embracing technology
  2. “Brand” versus “partner” loyal
  3. Good clients and staff
  4. Niches
  5. Realistic terms

Thanks to Terry and Joel of Transition Advisors for this helpful information.

  • The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Bringing In New Partners

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

Recently, Marc Rosenberg contributed an article to CPA Practice Advisor titled 7 Must-Haves for Accounting Firm Succession Plans. 

Rosenberg notes that 80% of first-generation firms never make it to the second generation because they have non-existent or ineffective succession plans.

If you want your firm to survive into the future, choosing the right partners is an important step. Often, owners make someone a partner without them truly understanding the expectations and responsibilities of a partner. Firms also often make someone a partner just because they don’t want them to leave the firm.

In his article, Rosenberg kindly shares his one-page list of criteria for promotion to partner. You can download it here. Be sure to read his entire article. Thanks for sharing, Marc.

  • Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.
  • George Washington Carver