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Buying In? A Guide To Making A Move At The Partner-Level

As the economy continues to bounce back from the most recent recession, it’s clear that there really has never been a better time to be a certified public accountant (CPA). Not only has this profession been consistently ranked as a best job in America, but it is also expected to experience faster than average growth according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But perhaps one of the most significant trends has been a transition to a candidate-driven market. Specifically, a job market where the demand for talent far outweighs supply, and accounting professionals have found themselves in positions of power; ultimately, allowing them to be selective about the offers they take and the organizations they choose to work for. However, the demand for accounting expertise is not only increasing, but changing – giving way to unique, never before seen opportunities at the partner-level.

“We’re currently seeing an unprecedented demand for partner-level candidates within New York Metro Area-based public accounting firms,” explains Irv Myones, a Senior Managing Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division. “This is a trend that can be tied back to the improving economy. On one hand, many of these firms are finding that they need to bring in more partners to better serve their clients and expand their scope of services. At the same time, they have to prepare for the impending retirement of many of their existing partners, and are therefore investing in succession planning to ensure their firms’ future success.”

Facing a shortage of internal candidates, these clients have begun looking for seasoned accountants from other organizations and geographic regions to come in and hit the ground running as partners or be groomed to take over these leadership positions. This type of career opportunity – for both current Partners and Senior Managers/Directors who haven’t yet made it – doesn’t come often, so those thinking of making a move should take advantage of it. But first, here’s what you need to know:

The ideal candidate profile: As public accounting firms look to expand their audit, tax, and advisory and consulting businesses, professionals at the senior and partner-levels who specialize in the following areas are in especially high demand: real estate tax, financial services, family office and high net-worth tax, and business valuations/consulting.

A book of business is not required: Since these firms already have an established client-base that they either need help serving, or need to transition away from a retiring partner, a book of business is not a prerequisite to landing one of these positions. This presents those with non-competes as well as managers and directors who haven’t been able (or required) to build their own client-base with the opportunity to transition into a role that might not have been open to them in the past.

Offers are competitive: In order to entice high-level accountants to consider this type of move, many firms are offering very competitive employment packages. “Since many of these candidates have established careers with their current employer, our clients recognize that their offers need to address some type of need that isn’t currently being met,” explains Irv. “However, they aren’t only doing this through increased compensation and better retirement packages. They are also offering opportunities to take on a true leadership role – allowing you to develop a strong voice at the firm as a thought leader and decision maker.”

They’re expanding their candidate pool: Taking the current shortage of talent into account, employers are thinking outside of the box when it comes to sourcing candidates. For example, New York-based firms have begun expanding their search parameters to other areas of the country, and are very open to considering candidates with varying levels of industry and client exposure. If they find the right candidate, they’ll make sure they have the proper training and mentoring system in place, and are typically willing to pay for the person’s relocation expenses.

These firms are also open to professionals who left public accounting to work in the private sector. According to Irv, internal auditors, chief financial officers, and controllers – particularly those who specialize in tax – are in high demand. “These positions have allowed them to build skills that are still very relevant to public accounting,” he says. “Current market trends would allow them to not only transition back into this field, but into a very prestigious role at that.”

If you are interested in learning about how we can connect you with one of these opportunities, please contact: