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What is more important; your personal or business case for partnership?

You will often hear people talking about constructing a business case for partnership. Actually in reality, you need to put together both a business case and a personal case.  What is the difference between your personal case and business case for partnership? Some firms will split the two of these up within the partnership admissions process. However, whenever you are pitching your business case to a panel, in reality you are pitching both your personal case AND your business case. 

In this blog post, based on an extract from my new book ‘Poised for Partnership‘, we will firstly look at the difference between your personal case and your business case. Then we will explore the reasons why you neglect your personal case at your peril.

What is the difference between your personal case and business case for partnership?

Personal case:

This is how you meet the criteria for being a partner in your firm. It involves logically showing how you meet the defined competencies and performance standards for partnership in your firm. However, demonstrating your personal case for partnership is as much about emotional pull as logically and rationally satisfying the standards for partnership. Your partners have to emotionally want you to be part of the club. You need to demonstrate that you will fit in well, complement the existing partners and be around for the long haul.

Business case:

Most clued up firms will be identifying a business case for a new partner often years before they are needed. The business case for a partner is the commercial reasoning why a new partner is needed in a part of the firm. This could be that a partner is retiring or part of the firm is growing rapidly that it now needs another partner to handle all the growth in clients. If no known business case exists then you may need to put together a compelling commercial proposition which shows that if you are promoted to partner you will grow part of the business to a sufficient size to warrant partnership.

Poised special offer smallIn chapters 7, 8 and 9 of Poised for Partnership we look at the exact steps you need to do to create and successfully pitch your business case (click on the link to get 50% discount off your copy of Poised for partnership)

What are your partners thinking when they listen to your pitch or interview you?

Let’s go right back to the basics of what makes up a partnership. It is unlike most limited companies (or PLCs) because it is owned by the leaders of the firm who happen to also be players and managers within the firm. Most partners have both leadership responsibility and still manage a portfolio of clients, whilst owning a slice of the firm. This means that when you are being considered for partnership, you are in effect being considered for whether you are suitable to own a slice of the firm. As a result your partnership admissions process is about assessing your ability and mindset to:

  • bring in the fees
  • be a responsible part owner of the firm
  • fit in well at the partnership table
  • be committed to the long term vision and goals of the firm

Why you neglect your personal case at your peril

Given that all the assessments, interviews and pitches that you will do for partnership are all designed to help your partners decide whether you are the sort of person they want to share ownership of the firm with, it is foolhardy to neglect your personal within your preparation for the admission process. Yes, you are probably unlikely to get directly asked about how you will fit in well around the partnership table. However, you need to factor into your thinking how you present yourself during the process. All too often potential partners only spend time thinking about their business case, i.e. how they will bring in the fees. Neglect to do this thinking about your personal case for partnership and you will probably fail to get through the partnership admissions process, because it isn’t all about the fees you will bring in with partner on your business card.

In chapters 10 and 11 of Poised for partnership we delve into what it takes to build a strong personal case for partnership.

In summary

Building your business case for partnership is as much about showing how you strengthen the partnership and be a great person to have within the club.

This article originally appeared in a different form on the How To Make Partner website.

Author Credit

GTE thumbnail_100Heather Townsend helps professionals become the The Go-To Expert. She is the author of the award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking‘, ‘Poised for partnership‘ and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘, and ‘The Go-To Expert’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices.

Heather blogs regularly at How to make partner and still have a life and works with future and current Big 4 partners and professionals from mid-tier firms all over the world

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