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Succession planning to avoid the accountancy tacit knowledge trap

Whether you’re a Partner or an accountancy firm owner, you’ll know that key people in an accounting practice often remain in their position (having climbed the ranks) for a very long time. 

As key people near retirement or you sense that they might move on, it can often give you a head-in-hand moment. This feeling usually stems from the tacit knowledge in this crucial person’s head — facts that aren’t written down — gained from years of experience. 

It’s also the case that finding a new person of the same calibre and drive, let alone a good fit for a firm’s culture, can be time-consuming and difficult. 

That’s why succession planning is vital for an accountancy practice and can also represent growth opportunities.

What is succession planning?

Succession planning is when you have a strategy or person ready for when a key person leaves the business.

Business strategy is vital for any accountancy firm, and recruitment forms a fundamental deliverable for any plan.  

Succession planning is about starting the recruitment process early so that you can hire top talent. 

Equally, succession planning provides the opportunity to move some tacit knowledge from the key person to the new recruit before leaving. This can be particularly important in providing a smooth transition for high-profile clients — relationships are built on trust — even more so when money is at play.

An opportunity to scale and replace

Succession planning to find the right person doesn’t have to be a like-for-like replacement, though. 

At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd, we specialise in matching Partners who not only fit your firm’s culture but often come with added areas of specialism or a portfolio of clients and revenue to introduce. 

Not only is this an opportunity to introduce new clients, but it can also strengthen the firm’s offering with new skills, experience, and qualifications. 

From demonstrable experience leading and inspiring teams to software development that will help your clients and your firm — there are rich pickings if you start the process early.

Top cultures attract top talent — not the Big Four

Before you embark on your succession plan and recruitment process, it’s worth considering whether your current culture needs addressing to attract top talent. 

To attract the best of the best, you don’t need to be in the Big Four, but you do need to demonstrate a modern and progressive approach to culture and well-being. 

Your next high-calibre team members might be choosing to leave a business because of: 

  1. Lack of recognition and support.
  2. Lack of Employee Value Proposition  
  3. Policy and politics.
  4. Poor career progression or lack of equity share opportunities.
  5. Culture misfit or work/life balance.
  6. Outdated processes and systems.

 There are many other factors, but making your firm forward-thinking and progressive when it comes to culture and support could be the deciding factor. 

How to plan without causing animosity

The big challenge with succession planning is how to line up a replacement without causing animosity? If you can’t advertise — how can you find new people? 

At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd, we offer a completely confidential service when it comes to succession planning. Over the last decade, Public Practice Recruitment Ltd has cultivated close relationships with an extensive database of high-calibre accountancy professionals at all levels, with various specialisms, and often who have fee-income to introduce. 

We take the utmost care to provide a confidential and sympathetic approach which we believe is the key to successful succession planning.

Are you recruiting for an accountancy position?

If you are looking to recruit for your accountancy practice, Public Practice Recruitment Ltd can help. 

Exclusively developed for the accountancy industry, our professional accountancy recruitment team will seek the highest calibre of candidate for your role, so you’ll be confident they will actively contribute to the success of your accountancy firm.

Call Public Practice Recruitment Ltd today on 03335 777 787 to discover how we can support you. 




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