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?