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Guiding your succession planning

August 11, 2015
Read Time: 0 min

For many years leaders in the accounting profession have preached the need for firm succession planning. And there is no time like the present. The retirement of baby boomers combined with high turnover and the slow growth of new entrants to the profession all point to the inevitable passing of the torch to the CPA of the future and your firm will need a plan.

Succession planning is important across many levels. It involves the transition of a firm’s leadership team, as well as transition of individual partners. The idea that firms need to groom their younger staff to take the place of partners who will one day retire is not difficult to grasp. And to their credit, many firms have worked diligently at creating succession plans for many years, but the execution may be difficult.

A part of what can make both the creation and the execution of a succession plan difficult is that, particularly for smaller accounting firms, the process is personal. Over many years clients build relationships with partners, and the transition to working with someone new could be a difficult adjustment for clients to make quickly. Allowing a long-time client to get acclimated to a new point of contact is a smart business decision and can help to improve client retention over a period of transition.

The biggest emotional burden of succession planning falls not on the ones who will remain with the firm, but with the ones who are leaving. One of the most stressful events in anyone’s life is the loss of a job, and in a succession planning meeting, one of the individuals in the room is expected to plan his or her own departure from the firm. After spending 20, 30 or more years with the same firm and many of the same people, it can be difficult to talk about moving along, even if the move is a planned one.

For more information on making the succession planning process as painless as possible, download this checklist, “Retiring Well.” 

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About the Author


Raleigh, N.C.-based Sageworks, a leading provider of lending, credit risk, and portfolio risk software that enables banks and credit unions to efficiently grow and improve the borrower experience, was founded in 1998. Using its platform, Sageworks analyzed over 11.5 million loans, aggregated the corresponding loan data, and created the largest

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