Perhaps the most pivotal role in an accounting & advisory firm is the client service partner, sometimes called a relationship partner. These are generally the audit partners who have overall responsibility for the client relationship. These roles are defined in terms of revenue responsibility, new business, staff development, technical abilities and so forth. But it’s easy to lose the forest for the trees.
Great client service partners play much bigger than the category-by-category descriptions of their roles. They get a “seat at the table.” This means they have a deep understanding of the client’s business and industry. They understand both suppliers and consumers. They have a historical perspective on what’s worked and what hasn’t over the client’s business history. They also have deep insight into how their clients think and make decisions. When it’s time to think about important strategic issues, their clients want their views, which consistently prove to be highly strategic, to balance business opportunity with a sound risk analysis. If you desire to build a broad advisory business, the best way to get started is to help your audit partners become client service partners.
Most client service partners are already great at delivering timely and accurate financial statements and tax returns each year coupled with sound financial and tax advice. They manage their teams and meet their budgets. Most are decent at practice economics and cross-selling. The next step is strengthening their skills to earn a seat at the table. The best way to do this is with targeted behavioral training and coaching. It’s one of the best investments you can make.