12 Questions Rising Stars are Asking About the Path to Partner—CPA Insider Reviewed by Momizat on . Compensation and Growth Opportunities are Key to Employee Retention;  Other Factors—and How to Differentiate Jennifer Wilson at CPA Insider writes that firm lea Compensation and Growth Opportunities are Key to Employee Retention;  Other Factors—and How to Differentiate Jennifer Wilson at CPA Insider writes that firm lea Rating:
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12 Questions Rising Stars are Asking About the Path to Partner—CPA Insider

Compensation and Growth Opportunities are Key to Employee Retention;  Other Factors—and How to Differentiate

Jennifer Wilson at CPA Insider writes that firm leaders should be prepared to provide clear answers to the most pressing questions young high performers have about what to expect on the path to partner.   

According to the AICPA 2011 PCPS Top Talent Survey, top performers place the most value when it comes to retention on compensation (95%) and career growth opportunities (93%). Yet, the economic downturn resulted in flat revenue growth for firms, stalling new partner admissions and flattening raises and bonuses. Now, as the economy starts to rise, firms run the risk of having their most valuable people (MVPs) leave to seek meaningful career growth and financial opportunities elsewhere. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. Differentiate your firm by providing clear answers to the dozen most pressing questions asked by top talent. Failure to do so raises the risk of you losing your best and brightest young stars.

  1. What do you see as my future with the firm?
  2. What do you expect the timing of my admission to partner to be?
  3. What specific deliverables or results do I need to produce to be a candidate for partner and by when? (Note: When answering this question, refer to my previous CPA Insiderarticle “Do You Have What It Takes to Become a Partner?” July 30, 2012, for guidance.)
  4. How do I stack up compared to others I might perceive to also be in the queue? For instance, do you see me leapfrogging or bypassing others who you may have “parked” at a level beside or above me? (Don’t expect your people to know this. If you have people who are above them in title who seem to be in line to make partner, they may wrongly assume they have a long—perhaps too long—wait. If this isn’t the case—tell them!)
  5. What programs or activities should I expect to participate in to help me develop and prepare me to act as a partner?
  6. What are the differences in the levels of partner? If we have a nonequity partner or principal, how does it differ from equity partner in terms of compensation, governance, authority, participation in partner-level activities, client ownership, and other areas?
  7. Will I be admitted as a nonequity partner or principal or an equity partner? Do we always admit new partners one way, or are there variances? If there are variances, what causes them? (Some will ask this question because they want to go “straight to the top.” Others will want to ease in, especially if they are still raising a young family or have other commitments that give them pause about making the big equity push forward. Ideally, your path will allow for options, but for your superstars, consider “tying them up” with direct admittance.)
  8. When you admit me as a partner, what are the specific buy-in requirements? How will my buy-in be calculated? How will it be funded? Should I be saving for this now? Will the firm “gross up” my earnings to help offset my buy-in, or do we have a loan program through the firm or a banker?
  9. How does the buy-in process compare to other firms?
  10. If there is a buy-in to become a partner, has the firm modeled the equity buy-in process along with the equity buy-out or retirement buyouts, so that I can see this model and understand what I am committing to in terms of funding the current partners’ future retirements?
  11. What agreements will I be asked to sign as I become a partner? When can I read these agreements to better understand what I am being asked to commit to?
  12. How will we monitor my progress toward partner? Who will shepherd me to make sure I am making progress and know where I stand?

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