Success Factors of CPA Partner Relationships — Collaboration

Practice ManagementPart II

Collaborative partner relationships are one of the most critical success factors for a CPA firm. The partners’ ability to work harmoniously with each other and possess the deep knowledge and understanding of what makes each other “tick” is essential to creating and sustaining successful partnerships. In Part I of this article, we discussed a “Shared Vision” and “Trust” as key factors. Over our many years of experience advising and consulting to CPA firms, we have observed other certain common factors in CPA partner relationships that have led to a firm’s long-term success, such as:

Collaborative Partners

  • Collaborating on services  – Brainstorming is a key element to bring partners together to collectively answer the question, “How can we provide world class services and add more value?” Partners need to generate ideas and creative solutions, and present different perspectives and expertise, to offer clients’ truly valued services as a one firm-firm. Creativity is crucial for firms today, especially when the market is highly competitive for innovative, advisory and high-value services beyond compliance. The collaboration of all the partners increases the potential to implement creative client service ideas and make them a reality.
  • A keen sense of purpose and value – Partners who truly collaborate see the value in working together. Collaboration should not be a forced mandate, but should be a meaningful effort to work together with shared goals and objectives, that benefit both the individual partners and the firm as a whole.
  • Equal participation – In successful firms, a collaborative partnership leaves titles at the door and treats all partners as equals when collaborating on firm initiatives by all levels of the partner group, including the Managing Partner and Management/Executive Committee. Partner collaboration is important in this fast-paced, competitive environment with ever-increasing client demands. Breaking down the partner silos and removing the obstacles to innovation, creativity and firm growth, is paramount to succession planning and remaining an independent firm of the future.
  • Collaborative leadership – As the landscape of the business of public accounting becomes increasingly dynamic, and as consolidation re-shapes the marketplace daily, successful firms are tasked with building their capacity for agility, adaptability, and speed to sustain their competitive edge. The most successful firms are transitioning from a hierarchical organizational structure to more flexible, team-centric models that foster collaboration, information sharing, and empowerment.

Today’s CPA firm environment requires speed, which, in turn requires partners representing various service areas to collaborate effectively and quickly. Collaboration with partners who are specialists in different areas of the firm (audit, tax, advisory, niches, firm management/ operations, etc.) pollinates knowledge and assists the partner group to understand how their areas/departments fit into the bigger picture. Cross functional partner collaboration allows ideas to come from all partners.