How to make partner at a Big 4 firm? (part 2)

big4 Big 4 partner buy in client portfolio

Why do professionals want to be a Big 4 partner?

Reaching partnership at a Big 4 firm is generally seen as the pinnacle of achievement for any accountant or consultant. These blog posts discuss what it takes to make partner at a Big 4 firm and how this differs from mid-tier firms. Read Part 1 here

The Director role – is it a dead end for your career?

I have worked with the accountancy profession for more than a decade and seen the expected career progression of directors change, and sometimes change back again.  The profession is in a quandary because it doesn’t know what to do with highly technical experts, who are immensely valuable to the firm, but not really suitable for partnership. Therefore, sometimes firms select from their senior managers and only promote to director if they feel there is partnership potential.

On the other hand, some firms leapfrog the director stage and promote from senior manager to partner, leaving the director role for the technical experts.This is an approach KPMG has taken in the past, although now they are using director for potential partners again.

It doesn’t really matter what firm you are in – Big 4 or mid-tier – what you have to do is find out what qualities, skills, and behaviour are required at the different levels within your firm and how your firm’s promotion process works.  Within a Big 4 firm, this is usually transparent, and extensive documentation should be available.

FREE partnership potential assessment tool
Download our free partnership potential self-assessment tool to find out if you have partnership potential in your firm.
FREE guide to accelerate your career in a Big 4 firm
Download your free 13 tips to accelerate your career at a Big 4 firm.

The Big 4 have more flexibility

Because of their size, Big 4 firms have more partnership slots to fill than mid-tier firms. This means they can be flexible about who they have within the partnership.  You will still need to have strong evidence of how you will develop and win business but (and this surprised me) when going for partner with a Big 4 firm, you will not need such a large client portfolio as you will need with BDO or GT.

Big 4 firms are more interested in your potential for building a partner-sized portfolio. Read on to find out the typical size of a Big 4 partner’s client portfolio.

FREE step-by-step guide to building your own marketing plan
marketing-planStruggling to win the right type of clients to demonstrate you have a strong business case for partnership?

Download your free step-by-step guide to building your own marketing plan to focus on doing the right type of activities to win the right type of clients.   Download NOW

You’ll be expected to earn the rewards of partnership

You should now be getting a good idea of what it takes to make partner at one of the Big 4 firms. There’s plenty more on the site, so take time to read further.

Having started you off, it would be remiss of me not to mention the amount of input that will be expected from you as partner. You’ll be handsomely rewarded, but remember that every firm wants its pound of flesh, and the Big 4 partners are expected to work very long hours and continue working at networking and formal social functions as well.  What does it really mean to make partner? There may be plenty of aspects you had not considered!

 At the end of the day, it’s your choice. If you do want the rewards of a partnership in a Big 4 firm, remember you will need to earn them!

FREE guide to accelerate your career in a Big 4 Firm
Download your free 13 tips to accelerate your career at a Big 4.

Further reading to help you accelerate your career to partner at a Big 4 firm:


Author Credit:
Written by Heather Townsend, who helps professionals become the The Go-To Expert. 

Heather is the author of the  award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the FT Guide To Business Networking, co-author of How to make partner and still have a life, and The Go-To Expert
 To find out whether Heather can help your career progress, read 'is this you?' 
 Connect with Heather on LinkedIn and Twitter

"This book is like a secret weapon. No one tells you the how people are made partner and so this book is essential reading if you're aiming to join the partner club. I wish I'd read it right at the start of my career but it's a case of much better late than never. I know someone who relied heavily on the book in presenting a (successful) pitch for partnership." Amazon review Buy from amazon

“30+ five star reviews on Amazon and over 1200+ books sold in the first 8 weeks after publish date
Differentiating yourself from your peers is the challenge that every professional faces. This book gives you the clarity, process and confidence to make yourself stand out in a crowded market place."Toni Hunter, Partner George Hay Chartered Accountants. Buy from amazon
Over 110+ five star reviews on Amazon
"Great book to guide you through the maze that is networking. An all in one covering online and offline networking and how to put both together for a joined up approach. I know I'll be referring back to this a lot." Amazon review Buy from Amazon


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