Your personal business case for partnership - it's no longer about your technical ability

 

You've nearly made it - partnership is in your sights. There is just one more hurdle to overcome - actually making it through the partnership promotions process. Each firm will be different, but many firms will put together a partnership nomination pack, which will include your personal business case for partnership. (See what do you need to put in your personal business case for partnership)

I had the honour of interviewing Darryn Hedges, Global Finance Director for Marks & Clerks (and ex E&Y). In this interview he explained the most common mistake that accountants make with their business case is that they get over-fixated on technical content and technical ability.

The most common one is over-fixation on technical content and technical ability

In Darryn’s view (and he has now been heavily involved in the partnership promotions process for three firms), he believes that you need to focus more on your ability to lead, win work, work collaboratively with others, and delivery of excellent client service. Your technical competence is now taken as read - you wouldn't be even invited to apply for partnership if your technical competence was in doubt:

In my view the ability to manage and work with a team, the ability to work collaboratively, is as important because it speaks not just to the delivery of service and the winning of work but also to the manner in which it is done.

As Darryn explained in his interview,

If you are over-fixated or over-focussed on your technical ability you tend to forget about the client relationship and the business development stuff as well.

In professional services, including accountancy practices, the terms ‘finding, minding and grinding‘ are often spoken about. This usually relates to:

Grinding: Doing the work, e.g. being at the client's office doing the audit

Minding: Managing the work you have today and the people you work with, e.g. managing an audit team on site from your office

Finding: Winning the new work, e.g. doing the pitch to win the audit work for a new client (here is a free guide to writing your own marketing plan)

If you are to have a winning personal business case for partnership, Darryn suggests that you show in your business case how you get do all three, i.e. finding, minding and grinding, with a proven track record. I.e. not just showing that you can ‘Grind’ – after all, a competent senior could do that.

You have to get all three (finding, minding and grinding) into the business case. The specifics of your firm, your department, the opportunity will determine which of those three is a priority, but you have to get all three in.

If you would like a guide to help you write your business case, then here is a free downloadable guide.

How does your firm encourage you to increase your minding and finding skills?

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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.