By Ira S. Rosenbloom, CPA (Inactive)
With the abundance of sophisticated technology available and the high level of talent and expertise CPAs and administrative staff both currently offer, one might think managing a CPA firm is easier than ever.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The advances made throughout the industry have only heightened the complexities and benchmarks needed for leaders to excel.
In that regard, success as a managing partner now requires some lofty primary attributes that can help them, and their firms, perform at the highest levels. Below are four characteristics (the 4 Ps) necessary to both gauge and achieve performance excellence as a managing partner.
- Profit Proficient – CPA firms must generate bottom lines that will bolster investments in technology, enabling better work-life balance and making recruiting and retention more successful. The managing partner must diligently embody and respect the value of time, and must insist on efficiencies to enhance return on investment. A limited number of key performance indicators must be top-of-mind and carefully harvested. The managing partner must insist on a commitment to escalating profit and investment from the partners, and hold all firm members accountable for profit results.
- People-Centric – People skills, as long as people remain our clients, are essential to a practice’s success. A firm must have those who can relate internally to one another and externally to the clients. The mission of the firm should heavily weigh the people-to-people priorities, and the managing partner must be comfortable listening, arbitrating, motivating, and incentivizing behavior, internally and externally. Trust and fairness are at least as important as likeability. A leader must care about other people’s priorities and take actions to prove it.
- Provocative – Staying ahead of the competition and anticipating opportunities are fundamental to running any strong business, especially an accounting firm. Managing partners need to provoke thought and curiosity, as well as action. Inquire about better ways to handle routine matters. Help the team seek new service offerings and innovative ways to streamline and strengthen processes. Encourage team awareness of the competition, such as who and where they are and what they do differently or better. Challenge the team to explore the things that are holding them back and come up with ways the business could be stronger.
- Promotional – Although the managing partner must, at all times, be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the firm, he or she also must routinely work to push the firm’s brand internally and externally. The managing partner should consistently and passionately communicate the benefits of working with the firm and understand how those messages should be delivered to every target audience. After all, the firm will not be all things to all people. Solving weaknesses often arises from promoting the firm’s strengths. It is not about exuding charisma and shining spotlights; it is about clear, enticing, and consistent communication. The managing partner needs to get the message out as a promoter all the time.
No matter how big or small a CPA firm, a solid managing partner must be passionate about the progress and reputation of the firm. When a managing partner embodies the characteristics outlined above, it will be a win-win for all stakeholders. That is what results from managing partner excellence.
Ira S. Rosenbloom, CPA (inactive), is chief operating executive at Optimum Strategies in Spring House, Pa., and a member of the Pennsylvania CPA Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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