Nine ways for accountants to handle the transition to partner

Nine ways for accountants to handle the transition to partner

Moving up to partner level sees many new responsibilities, so we share how to approach these

When you reach your desired goal of partner at an accountancy firm, it wouldn’t be surprising if that is the first time you have really stopped to think about what the role would involve.

All of your efforts up until now have been focused on getting to that position, but what do you do when you reach it?

Lots is going to change for you, but in a good way! Here is how to make the transition up to partner level.

1. Change your outlook

It’s one thing to listen to people telling you that you will need to alter your thinking and attitudes towards your job, and another thing to go through it yourself.

You need to develop a broader outlook; one that is company-wide rather than focused on one specific area or team. To do this, you will need to meet and get to know more people and learn more about the business as a whole.

2. View yourself as a business owner

New partners must remember they are no longer just employees, they are business owners. This means a shift in responsibilities. They are not just looking after themselves or even just other people anymore, but they must help set the direction of different practice areas and the overall business.

It can be difficult to come to terms with this properly on a personal level, but a good partner will concentrate on their firm’s growth just as much as their own personal journey.

3. Gain respect

It is easy to assume that being successful in a partner role means being extroverted, always right, and working 24 hours a day, but actually you don’t need to be or do any of these things.

Gaining the respect of your colleagues is the most important part of this role, and you can still do this successfully while being introverted. It is important to listen just as much as speaking, if not more. Be confident in yourself and work on your body language, as this is a powerful communications tool, but you don’t always have to be right as this is an achievable objective and defending a weak position is a mistake.

4. Be a leader and role model

By the time you become a partner, you probably won’t be a stranger to leadership. However, you can never do too much of it when you reach this level.

As a Partner, you’re likely to be thinking about other people far more than yourself, and if you are then you’re doing it right! You will need to continue managing clients successfully as well as looking after your employees’ professional growth. This means being aware of their morale, their targets, and even training them to become future partners.

Also be a role model. It goes without saying to act as you think your employees should act, but go beyond this. Show employees you are invested in the business and its people as a whole, make an effort to get behind the values and ambitions of the firm, and set standards for good health, happiness, and a work-life balance.

5. Take advice from others

Do not be afraid of asking for help or advice from someone who has been in a partner role for longer than you. Everyone had a first week as a partner, they will understand your challenges.

Ask them how they settled in to the role, the mistakes to avoid, and what you should make sure you do. Ask them what they think you do well and what you should work on. There is a tendency in new partners to work themselves to the bone to prove their passion, but this might just result in burnout. It is important to work hard but take care of yourself as well.

6. Get involved in the community

You might be seeing a theme by now, but altering your mindset to think about the needs of your business as a whole rather than just one area can only be done if you are part of that community.

This can be achieved in multiple ways, from attending lots of company events and taking time to develop relationships with employees, to supporting the firm culture and getting behind new developments.

7. Embrace responsibility

One of the biggest challenges for new partners is coming to terms with the responsibilities they have in their new role.

As a partner you will be making big decisions which impact the success of the business, and subordinates will look up to you for inspiration, support, and advice. You will be working with key clients and you will sometimes have to make difficult decisions. Being a partner is an exciting challenge but don’t underestimate what you will be responsible for.

8. Learn to delegate

It is not impressive to work yourself to the bone and refuse help from others in your firm, whatever level you are working at. It is understandable to want to hold on to old responsibilities, especially if you have been working your way up a firm for a long time, but new partners must accept that they are moving on and leave their old tasks behind.

This is not only essential to ensure you put every effort into you new role, but it is also important to allow different people to pick up where you left off and breath fresh ideas into those responsibilities.

9. Set your own goals

To become a partner you have probably followed a strict progression path, but once you reach partner career milestones become murkier and more difficult to define. Some firms do have formal goal-setting for partners but this is not always the case so partners might need to take the initiative.

Partners must change what their goals are focused on. They should set goals based on their skills, personalities, and interests but must also take the firm’s needs and ambitions into account. Future firm improvements are very much interwoven with the personal goals of a partner in an accounting firm.

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