How to Become Partner at Your Accounting Firm


For many CPA candidates, the holy grail of their professional career is to become partner at their accounting firm. While this is indeed a fantastic feat, it’s certainly one that doesn’t happen overnight—very similarly to passing the CPA Exam. But with lots of hard work and dedication, the road to partnership can be within reach. Here are the skills you will need to master in order to acquire that next magnificent milestone in your career. 

1. Never underestimate base-level administrative abilities

This may sound like a given, but you’d be surprised at how far basic administrative skills take you in your career. Your execution of larger projects all include knowing how to handle your basic run-of-the-mill job duties, such as time management, data-entry, email management, billing, collecting, etc. Although this is not normally evaluated in partner candidates, it’s at the crux of your position. So be good at it! 

2. It helps to be a people-person 

We mean this in two ways. One is the rudimentary form: be personable, amiable, and likeable. Your social skills are important, especially since being partner means it’s all about sales to advance the firm and generate more revenue. Networking is a crucial part of this role, so developing personal relationships is key to finding new business. 

The other way we mean “be a people-person” is have a knack for developing yourself and finding the potential in others. Many baby boomers will be retiring from their seniority and partnership roles in these next few years. That means that firms are looking to replace them. To stand out as a partner candidate, show that you can combine your knowledge of technology and good old school accounting principles to improve the firm. Take the lead on incorporating your fellow coworkers alongside your journey.  

3. Create windows of opportunity to jump through 

You won’t advance waiting for opportunities. You have to create them. See where your firm could use additional help or is lacking and never believe that you’re above any simple task or duty. Take initiative and don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. You can begin by cultivating a book of business early on in your career, look for mentors who can help train you to do better at your job, or land a leadership role in an industry group or organization. 

4. Follow your firm’s rules for being a leader

Every firm has different values and strengths that they’re looking to build upon. See the bigger picture of what your firm has in mind and use them as a parameter for how you should tailor your leadership and partnership goals. Whether this means understanding the importance of good delegation, leveraging your team’s strengths/weaknesses, or learning how to take advice from those who are more experienced, your work ethic should always reflect your firm’s brand and values.

5. Be flexible 

Your opportunity for partnership may not always make itself known to you, so make sure you’re saying yes to new experiences. This not only makes you a great team player who isn’t expendable, but can also pave a path to partnership you didn’t originally envision. Whether this means moving out of your comfort zone psychologically or geographically. Flexibility means also realizing that becoming partner is a long journey that takes years of hard work and commitment. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen for you in the timeframe or way that you imagined. Keep working at it and you’ll get there someday!

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