Why CPA Firms Should Invest in Leadership Development

A perfect storm is brewing for many CPA firms, churned from the threat of top professionals leaving, and the lack of an appropriate succession plan. The next generation of leaders is not being trained and mentored, leaving many firms without the talent to ensure future success.

Before the global pandemic struck, 81% of companies were concerned about retaining their top performers, according to research conducted by global staffing firm Robert Half. In July 2020, another Robert Half survey found 32% of professionals planned to look for a new job within the next 12 months, despite the pandemic, and that number is expected to increase as the crisis subsides.

More pressure has been placed on staff and managers during COVID-19 as they struggle to adjust to new protocols for remote work, client communications, technology and team interaction. Many firms have lost their focus on training other than staying compliant with continuing education courses required for professional certifications.

To compound matters, with many senior partners at CPA firms reaching retirement age, firms often lack a clearly defined succession plan. There is a real concern across the industry that the next generation of leaders is not trained and in place, ready to step into new roles. The 2020 Succession Planning Survey found that 55% of multiple-owner firms reported having concerns about succession planning. This survey was conducted by the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section and the Succession Institute LLC.

Your CPA firm may be facing these challenges, yet you may be unsure what to do about them. One of the most effective steps you can take is to invest in leadership development for your senior managers and new partners. Doing so will help you address retention concerns, demonstrate your commitment to fostering the next generation of leaders and assist you in addressing your firm’s succession concerns.

Why CPA Firms Should Invest in Leadership Development

The future success of your CPA firm depends on grooming senior managers and new partners who are agile, adaptable, savvy in practice development, and strategic in their thinking and approach. Tomorrow’s accounting firm leaders need to be technically skilled, adept at client communications and problem solving and proficient in business development, negotiation, people management and supervision and verbal and written communications.

Leadership development lets top performers know that you value their skills, talents and effort. It also demonstrates that you see a well-defined career path for them in your firm. If your top performers don’t see your firm fostering their professional and leadership growth, they likely will move on. Not only is the time invested in an employee lost when they depart, the cost of replacing a top performer can run as high as 50% to 60% of their annual salary.

Choosing the Right Leadership Development Program

To effectively build leadership skills, most firms turn to outside leadership development programs that offer unique opportunities and features. When looking for an outside firm, it’s important to look for a program that focuses on developing skills in four major leadership areas:

  1. Emotional intelligence
  2. People management
  3. Practice development, and
  4. Practice management.

A robust leadership development curriculum blends online learning with safe classroom experiences and meaningful outside learning opportunity assignments that relate directly to participants’ roles at their firm. Professionals engage with and learn from peers and colleagues outside of their firms, giving them a secure forum to speak openly about shared challenges facing their firms and the industry.

A top-tier program provides a framework for personal leadership coaching and practice development coaching to foster and hone the skills needed to drive growth for your firm in the coming decades. Experienced trainers can bring added perspective that enhances participants’ learning by translating leadership theory into practical reality for a range of situations.

Model programs also offer opportunities for collaboration with your firm leadership and support through personal mentoring. This interaction provides participants with greater insight on the challenges facing their firm, and facilitates dialogue on finding solutions. Comprehensive programs offer participants a roadmap for putting their new leadership skills and knowledge to work immediately on the job.

The Partnership Institute

For more than 20 years, The Growth Partnership has been passionate about developing future leaders for the accounting profession through our Partner Institute program. We offer the most comprehensive leadership development program in the marketplace today, with more instructor depth and curriculum breadth than any other option available. Many of our graduates have gone on to assume Managing Partner roles and nearly all serve in leadership roles at their firms.

For more information about choosing the right leadership development program for your CPA firm, please contact us here or call Sara Huddleston at 314-447-2378.