About five years ago, we wrote an article on what it takes to get (and stay) on the partner track.
TL;DR: you need to develop people skills, leadership skills, be proactive in finding new business, and play by the rules of the firm (DON’T pull a Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and go rogue.)
But that was five years ago. Startup culture and aggressive millennials have changed the game, and there are a number of small and midmarket firms where you can make partner faster than you can at larger shops.
The Journal of Accountancy backs us up here, writing that “Smaller firms can offer young CPAs a quicker path to partner.” The article goes on to cite numerous examples of accountants making partner in their early- to mid-thirties.
So what are some new strategies to making partner in today’s business climate? Read on to find out.
Choose a firm with a flat structure
Most businesses utilize a pyramid structure, with a few bosses up top and lots of underlings below. Pyramid schemes are also shaped like pyramids, but if you’re involved in one of those, we can’t help you.
Some businesses are beginning to challenge the pyramid dynamic, opting for a flatter structure with a smaller ratio of bosses to employees. These structures are much more conducive to making partner fast. They offer frequent opportunities for advancement and usually take on more partners than a traditional firm.
CPA firm Duggan, Joiner & Company, for example, is known for its flat structure and for promoting fast and young: Half the partners have only held that position for less than five years.
Don’t wait for project ownership. Take it.
If you’re waiting for someone to hand you ownership of a project, you’re doing it wrong. Just take it.
Take the responsibility and everything that comes with it. Make it your mission to see that the project succeeds. And if there are failures, own those as well.
It may seem counterintuitive, as the human reflex is to blame everything else when things go wrong: timelines, clients, environment, coworkers, etc.
But firms aren’t looking for “my pet giraffe ate the ledger” style excuses. They’re looking for someone who can own success as well as failure—because that’s the mark of a real leader.
Check in with the boss, but don’t be a bother
Accountants who work in a silent eight-hour bubble and quietly shuffle home at 5 pm will never make partner. But neither will brownnosers who poke their head in the boss’s office ten times a day.
So what’s the right balance? A survey by Leadership IQ found that six hours a week is the optimal time to spend with the head honchos.
If you find yourself off your boss’s radar, here are a few ways you can fly in like a 747:
- Suggest a regular check-in time to catch up and make sure objectives are being met;
- Ask for more frequent performance reviews;
- Invite your boss out for coffee or lunch;
- Invite your boss to your next networking event or conference.
Pssst, did you hear? You aren’t making partner.
Gossip is for sewing circles and pithy blog sites. Work is for work.
When you hear coworkers dishing on each other, the best thing to do is just walk away.
But if you do get trapped in a gossipy yak fest, try defending the person being criticized, or at least suggest looking at the issue from the offending party’s perspective.
A good strategy is to pretend you’re already the boss. To be an effective leader, you need to be diplomatic in how you talk about your employees. The same is true if you want to make partner.
And absolutely, positively, do not vent on social media about coworkers (or worse yet, bosses). Someone will find it, and it will come back to you. Stick to lolcats and Gene Wilder memes and you’ll be much better off.
Social media gaffes have torpedoed so many careers that we feel it’s necessary to go biblical on this one. From the Gospel of Luke: “There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be illuminated.”
A firm where you can make partner fast
As we mentioned earlier, Duggan Joiner is one company that’s offering accelerated partner tracks.
The Central Florida firm has been around for nearly 100 years, and for good reason. It’s the premier audit and tax firm in Ocala, and its flatter corporate structure allows for maximum communication and faster employee advancement.
Duggan Joiner bakes learning and growing into their identity and culture, with a vast array of opportunities available to even the newest employees. And with a number of older partners set to retire soon, it’s looking to recruit people now who can fill those seats.
Apply for a job at Duggan, Joiner & Company
Duggan Joiner is hiring, and it’s looking for qualified candidates who can get on the partner track immediately. If that sounds like you, click one of the links below to apply for a specific position.