5 typical reasons why accountants applications for partnership are not accepted | AccountingWEB

5 typical reasons why accountants applications for partnership are not accepted


There are many reasons why your application for partnership is not accepted. Here are the five most common mistakes aspiring partners make when they apply for admission to the partnership.

1. Not building up a fan base in the partnership

Only partners, understandably, have the right to sit and vote at the partnership table. Your partners will, behind closed doors and without consulting your opinion, discuss whether or not you are a suitable person to join the partnership. The more vocal supporters of your cause, the greater the likelihood that you will get the right result from the vote. Unsurprisingly the stronger your power base within the partners of your firm, the less it matters as to what you have written in your personal business case for partnership.

2. Writing their personal business case in isolation

Your personal business case for partnership, needs to be written in consultation with not just the partners in your department but partners across the firm. Depending on how your partnership admissions process works, you may find that all or a fixed amount of partners needs to give you the thumbs up. Consequently, the more partners who feel as if they have had a say in your business case and have been involved in the writing of it, the stronger the chance that you get the green light. Particularly if those partners are the movers, shapers and groovers! (For more help with your personal business, download our free guide to writing your personal business case for partnership, email required)

3. Setting a fixed time frame for when they will make partner

No one can with any degree of certainty predict what will happen in the marketplace. In times of economic hardship firms tend to reduce their partnership numbers rather than admit new, potentially untried partners. Additionally, there may be better and stronger candidates for partnership ahead of you. Which are two reasons why equity partners generally get very annoyed when 'young whippersnappers' decide on when they are going to make partner. By all means set a general timeframe, just make sure it's not a 'fixed, must be this year', type of timeframe.

When the partners add in a new equity partner, they are in effect sharing equity in the firm with the newly promoted partner. Consequently, it will always be their decision, not your decision when you will make partner. Don't forget this!

4. Becoming over-fixated on their technical ability

When you become a partner you move from being employed to self-employed and become an owner of the firm. As a result, it is no longer about your technical ability, it's about your ability to grow the firm, build & lead a team, win clients and bring something extra to the partnership.

5. Not spending enough time on putting together their personal business case for partnership

Your personal business case for partnership is not something you can dash off in an evening. Ideally you want to be working on this at least 18-24 months before you want to be admitted to the partnership. To help you form your business case, you want to complete a series of conversations with partners inside and outside of your department, to canvas their opinions on your personal business plan.

If you are thinking or writing your personal business case for partnership, then download our FREE guide to writing your personal business case, email required.

What help has your firm given you with your personal business case?

Heather Townsend will be appearing at the 'How to make partner' conference in London on the 24th April 2013.

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I help professionals, mostly accountants and lawyers become the Go-To-Expert. After joining BDO LLP in 2004, I have now almost clocked up ten years working predominantly with accountants helping them achieve their career and business goals. Unusually for someone with an Engineering Degree, I accidentally became a writer and used my knowledge on social media to write the current best-selling and award-winning book on networking, The FT Guide To Business Networking. (over 100 five star reviews on amazon) In 2012, the book I always wanted to write, 'How to make partner and still have a life' was published. In March 2014, my latest book, 'The Go-To-Expert: How to build your reputation, differentiate yourself from the competition and win business' was published. People frequently talk about me as someone who really knows her stuff – which may be the reason I have, over the last decade, worked with over 300 partners, coached and trained over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. 

I am honoured to have been asked to judge the British Accountancy Awards in 2011 and 2012. I am a member of the Accountant's Club Global Advisory Panel, and write regularly on practice management issues for CCH.

Myself, and Jon (my co-director) are approved Growth Accelerator Coaches. This means that we can if you are eligible, through the Growth Accelerator scheme, help you get some coaching funded by the scheme. Click here for more details to see whether you are eligible for the scheme.

Read how we have helped one of our accountancy clients access Growth Accelerator funding to grow their turnover by nearly 50% and profits by over 200%

The types of work I am currently helping my small professional practice clients with, includes:

1) Helping a £2m t/o practice grow to £4m by restructuring the firm and helping the management team step up 

2) Working with a £1m t/o practice to grow to £2m by generating more leads, and getting more work from existing clients

3) Enabling a £300k t/o practice grow to £1m by helping it sort out it's profitability by adding in efficient systems and processes, and increasing the quality of the  lead generation by marketing to a niche

4) Facilitating the growth of a one man band practice into a 3 person practice by helping increase the lead generation and conversion rate of leads, plus keeping the practice owner accountable to his goals.

The Excedia Group was founded by myself and Jon Baker to bring clarity, perspective and knowledge to help our clients achieve their business goals. We specialise in working with highly technical individuals, typically lawyers and accountants, helping them to get out of their comfort zone and build a profitable and sustainable client portfolio whilst handling the challenges of leading a business. 

My work splits into about 50% Executive & Business Coaching with Partners & potential partners, with the rest split between training, consultancy and writing.

My articles & quotes regularly appear in the press, e.g. FT, Guardian, Accountancy Age, Accounting Today, Economia, ACCA's publications. I regularly blog at Partnership Potentialventure-NowJoined up networking and How to make partner.

To book me for a speaking engagement please contact my PR Agency, Meerkat PR, on 020 8563 0182, and ask for David Stoch. For any other work related enquiries, please contact me directly.

My clients have included: Deloitte LLP, KPMG LLP, BDO LLP, Haines Watts, MSI Global Alliance, UK200 group, Macintyre Hudson LLP amongst others.