There is news that the big 4 accounting firms are interested in offering a new type of partnership. This means that there is a new path to big 4 accounting firm partner in 2018.
How to Make Partner At The Big 4
Traditionally the big 4 have made partners in assurance, tax or advisory, but recent news is that the big 4 will be having an all encompassing partner in what some are calling a “one firm” partner.
A one firm partner would have knowledge in all aspects of accounting. Meaning that they will have knowledge in audit, tax and advisory.
When I first heard about this this blew my mind, but I think it makes sense given the current environment.
Most big 4 partners are really just sales people. They march out to clients and just open up their briefcase of shiny new big 4 toys. Whether that’s automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, workforce of the future, outsourcing of accounting departments.
That’s primarily what partners do nowadays. It’s the more junior people that are doing the majority of the technical work. Like looking up technical guidance and documenting technical positions.
It used to be that partners were the most technical people in the firm and you had to be technical to be a partner but that’s not true anymore. You don’t have to be technical in accounting tax or managerial theories.
Senior Leadership At The Big 4 Are Already One Firm Partners
I’ve know many members of senior leadership inside of the big 4 accounting firms. The most senior people I meet are often not very technical at all but they are often very connected internally or externally.
This new type of partnership would be ideal for people that have strong connections and networking skills. Clients want this new one partner approach because they are tired of trying to remember the rotating carousel of big 4 partners that they have to deal with if they want tax, accounting or consulting projects.
Even within each area many companies have to deal with different partners. For example within tax you might have to deal with a partner that does transfer pricing, one that is a federal compliance specialist and another that’s a foreign tax specialist.
Clients Want One Firm Partners
How would you feel if you were a cfo, controller or tax director and you had to keep track of all these people?
On top of that the big 4 are known for high turnover so you also have to deal with multiple people on your engagement leaving on all the time.
That’s where this new type of one firm partner is ideal for clients.
For clients, now they only have to deal with one partner that takes ownership of your account. You can ask them any question and they have to be able to answer it. They can’t just punt and say that they aren’t the person that deals with that type of question and provide you with a name and number of another partner. Often times specialty partners aren’t in the city that the client is in, and they have to be flown in or have to telecommute.
Clients don’t like dealing with this. They want to be able to see and talk to key partners at a moments notice.
Additionally as you’ve seen in the news with the big 4, they do almost everything for the largest companies in the world. That’s why regulators want them to be broken up.
The partners for the big 4 know that most companies don’t have another choice for professional services, so they know that they no longer need to be the most technical professionals in a given field.
They just need to be available and empathetic to their clients needs. Therefore big 4 partners are willing to sacrifice technical knowledge in order to provide clients what they want and sell more work.
Now why do I say that these partners have to give up technical knowledge? I say this because you can’t know audit, tax and consulting all at once. The new one firm partners will have some knowledge about each of these areas, but you can’t be an expert at every field. It’s just not possible, so it’s obvious that these new partners will be focused on selling and not so much on technical work or executing of work.
I get many questions about what people need to know about consulting tax or audit going into their interview or how to be better at finance. People need to stop thinking that way unless they have dreamt about one of those fields their whole life. You need to be more focused on going into a group that will make you successful. Think of a group where the people are similar to you and are willing to look out for you.
In order to learn the skills necessary to become one of these one firm partners, I recommend you take our big 4 interview course as we cover the skills necessary to be an a good big 4 professional.
Additionally I recommend signing up for our patreon page where we will give some more insights into how to become a one firm partner. I will also be releasing which firm is adopting this one firm approach first and which other firms I think will adopt it the fastest after that firm.