October 17, 2018

equity

Why Would Fourteen Baker Tilly Partners Give Up Equity for Salary?

This one’s a stumper.

Accountancy Age reports that 14 Baker Tilly partners are giving up their equity stakes to go on salary including “international CEO Geoffrey Barnes, head of IT advisory Richard Spooner, and six partners from the London office.” A spokeswoman told AA that this is simply a change in “remuneration” and the fourteen individuals would remain partners and there “would be no change to client services.”

Riddle me this partners out there: why would a person with an equity stake go back to being a senior manager (i.e. in terms of the compensation structure)? Something doesn’t compute there. Since we’re dealing with the international CEO and head IT advisory, maybe there’s some kind of political or solidarity motive here but the Accountancy Age report is skimpy and its editor Gavin Hinks admits that there isn’t much to go on and gets to speculating:

The big question people are asking is what does it mean? Or does it mean anything at all? There are a number of reasons a partner’s status might change. They may simply no longer want the risk of being partner. The firm may believe profits are too diluted and want fewer partners.

I personally don’t buy the first motive. If they were sick of the risk, why not just leave the firm? There are plenty of jobs out there with better compensation packages. Diluted profits is a little more plausible but the international CEO and head of IT advisory? Why would they opt out? Since the partners in question made this decision themselves, it’s unlikely that this was a punitive measure but perhaps BT had a little bit of an internal email scandal, they were given a multiple choice form of punishment and this was the least severe option? I’ve really got nothing better at this point. People with theories that are slightly above the crackpot level are invited to share.