Five Suggested Topics for Your Firm’s Annual Partner Summit

Joe Tarasco

Joe Tarasco

By: Joseph Tarasco

As accounting firm leaders begin planning the agenda for their annual partner summits, consider the following discussion topics:

Putting the firm in a strategic position to create and sustain a competitive advantage. Strategic positioning is defining how your firm will best compete now and in the future for clients and talent. Strategic positioning is established by developing a business model that includes:

  • Developing creative new and innovative service offerings to meet the needs of clients and the marketplace.
  • Targeting clients of the right size, in specific industries, that the firm has the best possible chances of engaging.
  • Establishing and enhancing niches and specialties in focused areas rather than many small initiatives.
  • Establishing additional business locations to expand the firm’s geographic market reach.
  • Developing leaders and professional talent within certain niches and specialty areas.
  • Maximizing lead generation in target markets.

Accepting that what made the firm successful in the past may not take it successfully into the future. Long-term success depends on the partners’ ability to avoid being squeezed between the past and the present. Firms need to analyze, explore and determine new strategies to capitalize on marketplace opportunities and respond quickly with an appropriate action plan. Partners should review their professional talent, the firm’s processes and structure and how they are aligned.

Managing the pyramid for future success. Many accounting firms have become very top heavy and under-leveraged, which has been fueling the volume of merger activity over the last five or so years. Developing a proper pyramid structure with the right partner-to-staff ratio is difficult but necessary for delegation and succession planning. There is a direct connection between partner-to-staff ratio and profitability, growth and succession planning.

Exploring mergers and acquisitions to achieve the next level of success. Evaluate mergers and acquisitions to grow the practice and obtain the necessary talent to provide the right combination of services and expand the firm’s geographic reach. Keeping up with local competition for clients and staff while the profession consolidates is a necessary strategy that should be evaluated on an annual basis.

Evaluating partner performance and leadership. Partner performance accountability and related compensation decisions are an integral part of what defines a firm and its future success. It’s worth the time and effort to evaluate partner performance and to encourage the behaviors needed to add value to your firm. Chances of reaching peak potential are better if partners are formally accountable to each other for performance and attaining stated leadership goals and objectives. Getting your firm to the next level of success is not just about working hard and producing billable hours, it’s also about inspiring change, unleashing talented partners, and making contributions for the firm’s long-term future. Leaders need to be role models by proving that they are prepared to change how they act, evaluate and reward.

Joseph A. Tarasco is founder and CEO of Accountants Advisory Group, a consulting firm focusing on practice management, marketing and human capital strategies to help CPA firms achieve long-term success and profitability.