Five Suggested Topics for Your Firm’s 2015 Annual Partner Summit

There are many important factors in planning a Partner Summit including selecting the appropriate discussion topics and developing a relevant strategic agenda. Here are some discussion topics that you may wish to consider in your agenda planning process:
Putting the firm in a strategic position to create and sustain a competitive advantage. Strategic positioning is defining how your firm will best compete now and in the future for clients and talent. Strategic positioning is established by developing a business model that includes:

  • Developing creative new and innovative service offerings to meet the needs of clients and the marketplace.
  • Targeting the right size clients, in specific industries, that the firm has the best possible chances of engaging.
  • Establishing and enhancing niches and specialties in focused areas rather than many small initiatives.
  • Establishing additional business locations to expand the firm’s geographic market reach.
  • Developing leaders and professional talent within certain niches and specialty areas.
  • Maximizing lead generation in target markets.

What made the firm successful in the past may not take you successfully into the future. Long-term success depends on the partner’s ability not to be squeezed between the past and the present. What made the firm successful in the past may not be the same formula that will lead to success in the future. Firms need to analyze, explore and determine new strategies to capitalize on marketplace opportunities and respond quickly with an appropriate action plan. Partners should review their professional talent, the firm’s processes and structure and how they are aligned.
Managing the pyramid for future success. Many accounting firms have become very “top heavy” and “under-leveraged” which has been fueling the volume of merger activity over the last 5+ years. Developing a proper pyramid structure with the right partner to staff ratio is difficult but necessary for delegation and succession planning. There is a direct connection between “partner to staff ratio” and profitability, growth, and succession planning.
Evaluating mergers and acquisitions to achieve the next level of success. Explore and evaluate increasing the firm’s resources through mergers and acquisitions to grow the practice and obtain the necessary talent to provide the right combination of service offerings and expanding the firm’s geographic reach. Keeping up with local competition for clients and staff while the profession consolidates is a necessary strategy that should be evaluated on an annual basis.
Partner performance and leadership. Partner performance accountability and related compensation decisions are an integral part of what defines a firm and its future success. It’s worth the time and effort to evaluate partner performance and to encourage behavior needed to add value to your firm. There is a much better chance that firms will reach their peak potential if partners are formally accountable to each other for performance and attaining stated leadership goals and objectives.

Getting your firm to the next level of success is not just about working hard and producing billable hours, it’s also about inspiring change, unleashing talented partners, and making contributions for the firm’s long-term future. Leaders need to be role models by proving that they are prepared to change how they act, evaluate, and reward.