Five tips for those on the partner track

YOU’VE done all the hard work and managed to qualify as an accountant – congratulations. So what’s next? If you have decided to remain in the profession, many of you, quite rightly, will be aiming for the top and that coveted partnership. So how do you go about getting noticed by the powers that be in order to achieve your objective? Susan Hutter, a partner in W1 accountants Shelley Stock Hutter, gives her five top tips.

It may be a cliche but it’s true, success only comes before work in the dictionary. You should be prepared to go that extra mile as it really gets noticed by the partners. In other words, behave like a partner and act as you would if it was your practice. A partner will work the hours, not the job, and that is what you should try to emulate. It does not mean that you have to work 24/7 but if there is an important project that needs to be finished, come in early, stay late and if necessary work at the weekend. Meeting inflexible deadlines is a way of life in the profession and you must be prepared to step up to the mark.

Give yourself a unique selling point that will set you apart from the competition. Become a specialist in your favourite area, whether that is IT, audit, tax or something else again. It may be necessary to take further exams to become an expert. Although after qualifying some feel that they never want to see another exam room in their lives, the pain is worth it.

Get involved with the management of the practice. One of the main ways you can assist the partners is to offer assistance with managing the staff. This is an arena where you will be able to show off your training and motivational skills. There are some excellent courses you can attend to help you achieve these skills. Be patient and show that you have time for everyone.

Start to build up a network of those who can introduce you to potential clients. One of the main ways of achieving a place in the hearts of the partners is to introduce business into the practice. The banks and other introducers such as lawyers, often put on networking events for their clients and contacts and it is not difficult to get on the mailing lists for these events. Then you can start to learn how to “work a room”.

Last, but certainly not least, becoming a partner in a practice has as much to do with “personality” as it does with ability. There are many excellent accountants out there who will never become partners. In business it is crucial to be able to get on with people. You will need to be able to charm clients, business introducers and your colleagues. People like doing business with those they like – make sure you are one of these people.

Susan Hutter has been a partner for more than twenty years at Shelley Stock Hutter LLP.