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Big 4 partners

What does it take to make the jump from senior manager to partner?

Good question. Let's break it down, in order-- 
1) People Skills - You have to have really good people skills, you cannot be awkward. You have to come across as genial and amicable, and exhibit the personality of someone that others want to do business with.
2) Perception that you can network and pull in clients - At the end of the day, the Firms were created to make money, and the partners need to keep adding more money in the pool. If the partners think you can go in, network at charity events, golf events, etc, and pull in new clients, you're in, it goes a loooong way. Develop a personality that will make people want to ask you to join them for a drink
3) Perception that you understand audit and that you are good at what you do - You do not have to be an audit superstar, but as long as you have a good reputation, and the client likes you, that's what matters.
4) Reflect your demographic - If you want to be a partner in a place like say Minnesota, odds are being white will help you. If you want to be a partner in Miami, being hispanic will help. Look like your clients and your potential clients out there, and that helps give them a sense of comfort. Hey, I'm not advocating this one bit, but don't blame the messenger, blame the message.
5) Concentrate on 1-2 industries where you can become really knowledgeable in the technical guidance related to that industry, and ideally where there's not a glut of partners already in that industry - Manufacturing and software are notorious for having a ton of partners, so it's tough in cities where there so many partners dedicated to this area
6) Take over certain jobs completely, to such an extent that all the partner needs to do is sign off. This takes a huge burden off his/her shoulder
7) Develop a strong relationship with the CFOs of your current clients, strong enough that they come to you for everything instead of the partner
8) Take a lead role in an IPO
9) Schmooze the partners, they're the ones who can promote you, so try your best to get them to like you
10) Dream..there's a 10% chance of becoming partner, so you better know you're good enough to be partner and be prepared to stick it out as senior manager until you make it (6-10 years as snr mgr).'s not the quality of your audit, but your ability to bring in money...


Anonymous said…
I agree with your point about being able to bring in the work, but I don't think partners are anywhere near as impressive as your post made them out to be. I'm working at a big4 now and I don't think any of the partners that I've met have great people or networking skills. They usually get work by first getting small jobs to get into the organisation and understand client needs. However, there's not much golf/dinner/drinks involved, just a few meetings every few months. The emphasize on technical skills are also minimal, the technical skills of the partners I know range from non-existent to passable.

This is based on the consulting side of the business if it makes any difference.
notfordisplay said…
I see your point, in that partners slip through the cracks. There is a lot of favoritism involved, don't get me wrong. But at the same time, from what I've seen, there are a lot of lunches, golfing, networking events, etc that the senior managers and partners attend to schmooze. Guess it depends on the partners you've worked with.
RH said…
Great post yet again. Pretty intriguing.
Anonymous said…
I'm curious to know what sort of exit opportunities exist for employees in advisory. It seems less structured in comparison to audit. I was wondering where do senior consultants, managers and senior managers go after their stints in big4 advisory.
Anonymous said…
Could you make a post concerning interns? I'm interning this summer in one of the big 4 audit firms in a large city and I was wondering if you have any advice or any big do's and don'ts. Everyone has told me to work hard and attempt things on my own or try to find my own answers before I ask questions, but I'm also concerned because everyone has told me that they won't expect me to know anything and I won't really be applying anything I've learned in school. Could you just shed some light on that aspect and give me any inside information on how you expect interns to act?
Bose said…
Your article rates a blue ribbon in my opinion. This is great quality content.@bose
Chartered Accountant Career
Anonymous said…
First let me say I enjoy reading your insight on the Big 4 accounting profession. My questions was this: I am almost done with my Accounting master's degree (non-Accounting undergrad) and will begin studying to take the CPA exam. I'm currently in a senior accounting role at my current position, and was wondering is it worth attempting to jump over and start new at a Big 4 firm? Would I still be entering in as a first year?
kimteh said…
Liked your tax blog.Its really informative.Thanks for sharing.
Accountancy Firms Kingston | UK corporation tax
Anonymous said…
I don't know if anyone has suggested this to you before, but have you ever thought about writing a book? Not strictly a career manual in accounting--although that seems like it could be in high demand too--but maybe like a zeitgeist novel of sorts? You have a fantastic voice.
notfordisplay said…
To the previous poster, thanks, I did think about it, should probably try and take down atleast a couple sentences a day in order to do that. Maybe worth a shot down the road.
Anonymous said…
Are you having a laugh? This is how an audit firm runs.

Year 1-3: Clerk
Year 4: Supervisor
Year 5-7: Manager
Year 8: Partner

A time-based promotion system.
Worst business model of all time!

And this is a fact of life.
Anonymous said…
@ the guy asking about the interns...

My response is dont do it.

Auditing is the worst thing anyone could ever do. it is boring, you get no respect from your seniors.
You are treated like a child.

At the end of the day you dont feel like you have added any value to anyones life.... actually auditing probably anti value adding.

stay lear of the audit world if you want to remain a human being.
notfordisplay said…
To Anon w/ re: to the interns question, do search on interns in my blog and you'll find a few posts. Below is one of the links -
notfordisplay said…
To Anon w/ re: to the question on switching from private to public, look through my blog, here's one for example:
Anonymous said…
I think the ones who are proven to be able to retain clients for long time and bring in new business are promoted to be partners. People skills is icing on the cake. Money is the main factor, because the firm is in the business to make money.

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