Mentoring: Things to consider before starting a scheme

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As an experienced mentor herself, ‘Joined Up Networker’ Heather Townsend offers some basic pointers for accountancy firms considering the technique.

While researching ‘How to make partner and still have a life, I discovered that having a formal or informal mentor was a significant boost for moving along successful professional careers. Often these mentors will champion you and your career behind closed doors. Their support could help you get the right assignments, or focus attention on your abilities during partner meetings.

Many firms run mentoring schemes or initiatives. This article sets out 10 things your firm needs to think about before embarking on your own firm’s mentoring scheme. Register and log in to AccountingWEB for the full text covering:

1. The reason why

2. Senior level sponsor

3. Research

4. Incentive

5. Do you need an informal or formal scheme?

6. Write a business case

7. Have an ‘owner’ for the mentoring scheme

8. Upskill the mentors

9. Set expectations for the mentees

10. Link to existing people processes and systems

11. Review

Heather Townsend, MCIPD, is the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ which is published by Kogan Page in November 2012. More details about the book can be found on the book’s blog: ‘How to make partner and still have a life’

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About Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend is a brand ambassador for the Practice Excellence Programme, and the Founder of ‘The Accountants Millionaires’ Club’. In 2015 the ICAEW decided she was the number one online influencer for the accountancy profession. She is the author of 4 books, including The Go-To Expert, and ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ (co-authored with Jo Larbie).

Heather is always up for a challenge. Perhaps that is why she has built a track record of helping accountants grow the size of their practice by 50-200%, often in under two years. Often helping them make partner or equity partner in the process.

Heather is a high profile member of the accountancy profession in the UK. She has worked with over 300 partners, coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. Heather's clients have included: 7 out of the Top 10 UK practices, including all the Big 4 firms. 

In 2016 her and her team of coaches have coached:

1) 7 people successfully to partner

2) Professionals from all of the Big 4, from every major continent in the world


As well as helping accountants make partner, she still spends 40% of her time helping small firms, typically under £1m GRF:

1) Create profitable revenue streams from advisory services and reduce their reliance on revenue from compliance services

2) Radically increase their profitability, even if they are a cloud based practice, often helping them achieve a net profit margin of 40%+

3) Double or even triple the size of their practice within 3 years

4) Win bigger and better clients

5) Grow the right team around them so they stop working stupidly high hours and spend quality time with the people they care about

Her articles appear regularly in the UK national and trade press, including The Financial Times, Accountancy Age, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. Heather is also in-demand for her speaking and has recently returned from the South African Accountancy Academy conference.


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