Achieving Partner status in your accountancy firm is one of the most coveted positions, and the goal of almost all trainee or practicing accountants. Starting from the ground, and working your way up the ladder takes many years of hard work and experience, but perseverance and a solid strategy can go a long way towards reaching your goal.
How long does it take to become a Partner?
The actual length of time it will take to achieve Partner status will clearly vary from firm to firm, and the largest, most reputable accountancy firms could have a long list of potential partners to choose from, with you near the bottom. Every accountant has to start somewhere, however, and the rewards are greater the more reputable the firm.
It can take on average a minimum of 10-15 years to become a Partner in both a national concern and a regional independent accountancy firm. In the current climate in the UK, delays in retirement will probably mean that the younger associate accountants will wait longer in the future for Partner positions to become available, unless the GRF increases in firms.
Creating a plan for strategic advancement
For qualified accountants, it is a sound strategic plan that can lead to advancement opportunities, and the best way to begin is to develop a clear view of the stages that need to be worked through to achieve the goal. The process will vary, of course, depending upon the type of accountancy you do, whether you wish to specialise and what kind and size of firm you work for.
Some large accountancy practices will have training schemes with access to specialist training courses or mentoring opportunities. It can be prudent for accountants with no internal training opportunities to seek out their own courses within areas they may wish to specialise or advance in.
Within a plan, it can be helpful to talk to your current employer to let them know that they wish to advance within the company. Making yourself useful to current Partners can be a valuable way of advancing within your chosen area, in addition to using networking opportunities and research to maintain a current view of the business.
What skills do Partners demonstrate?
Partners are high-level representatives of accountancy firms. They must demonstrate confidence and be natural leaders. Personality is critical, as is a strong sense of fairness and open-mindedness when dealing with clients. Clients want to feel that they can completely trust a Partner and can be open and honest without judgement and these are valuable skills a junior accountant needs to work on if their ultimate goal is Partner status.
Partners need to have an ability to get on the same wavelength as their clients and must be prepared to be flexible. Some accountancy firms have multiple locations, and Partners are often expected to move between offices. A willingness to travel and work on off-site assignments can demonstrate your flexibility and make you a more valuable member of the practice.
One of the most notable skills to develop and demonstrate is an ability to guide team members, and support more junior accountants as they progress with their career paths. A Partner will be responsible for team members once established, so a strong work ethic in this area will undoubtedly get you noticed by current Partners who are preparing to retire and replace their roles within the practice.
If Partner status is your career goal, it is never to early to begin preparation for the role. Push yourself to achieve more, and work on some of the most important aspects of Partner roles, and with a clear strategy, you can get ahead in accountancy.
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