How to Make the Leap from Senior Manager to Partner

The Leap from Senior Manager to PartnerFrom senior quality assurance positions to auditors just starting out in their graduate careers, the auditing Holy Grail is usually the same – to excel & make partner at the pinnacle of their professional life.

Only around 2% of all accounting professionals will ever make it to partner. For senior audit managers, the taste of partnership seems so close that they can almost touch it! You could be forgiven for giving up and getting on with your audit work. However, for those willing to put in the hard work, making partner at an accounting firm is definitely worth the wait.

Here are 10 tips on how you can get there quicker:

  1. Differentiate yourself from your fellow auditing professionals: Stay in front of the pack by building your personal brand, giving a hand to junior auditors, and developing excellent relationships with top tier clients
  2. Build a reputation for being technically proficient: whether its fraud, IT audits, jobs in forensic… you name it, commit to becoming a specialist in your auditing field and flaunt your technical acumen.
  3. Put your hand up to handle difficult audit clients: everyone is faced with difficult clients at some stage your career – from your graduate jobs to complex corporate tax jobs. Take these roles on, don’t whinge and make sure you do a great job.
  4. Get your CPA certification: Don’t ignore it any longer – get become CPA certified. It is very rare to find a partner who has not completed theirs, and in fact at one time public accounting firms would not even consider you unless you had your CPA. Start the ball rolling today
  5. Work long hours: If you want the recognition, you must be prepared to put in the hard work. Don’t ever leave the office until your boss does.
  6. Bring in clients: Public accounting is a business and if you have the clients you have the evidence to back you up when you make that bid for partner.
  7. Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know – get noticed by the big guys: Establish your business network, rub shoulders with Senior Audit Managers, CFO’s and other senior risk and compliance professionals.
  8. Get referrals: Ultimately, making partner is about business development and if bringing in clients is hard for you, the best way to make this happen is to build relationships with clients who will refer friends, colleagues and acquaintances to your accounting firm.
  9. Be an all-rounder: The days of traditional compliance auditing are gone. In order to succeed in your auditing career, you must bring more than just technical insight- you need to ensure that every day you are consulting, adding value, and addressing risk management and governance in the definition of internal auditing.
  10. Be patient: Sometimes senior auditing professionals may have to wait as long as 15 years in the same compliance manager job before an offer of partner becomes available.


No-one said it would be easy, but the benefits of making partner far outweigh the hard work involved.

What are your tips on getting noticed in your auditing environment? How do you differentiate yourself from your colleagues?

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