‘How to Make Partner’ – A review of Rutherford Cross’ Sold Out Event with Heather Townsend

Making the move from senior fee-earner to Partner is one of the hardest transitions that practice accountants will make in their career. Whilst the kudos and financial rewards of becoming a Partner are attractive to many young accountants, the roadmap to rising to the top table is often shrouded in mystery –  or seen as a prize only obtainable by the rare few.

In April we decided to bring one of the world’s most renowned experts on career pathing in professional services to Manchester to talk to a group of aspiring Directors and Partners about the reality of the role and its rewards. In what was an engaging keynote speech, Heather Townsend shared her 10 Lessons on ‘How to Make Partner’. Alongside this the audience also heard frank accounts from three current Partners as to their personal experiences of the journey to Partner and beyond.  We thought we’d share some key takeaways from the evening.

Chocolate Cake, Pink Cars & A Trio of Buckets!

Reality Number 1.  When you become a Partner you are no longer an employee, you resign and become a self-employed business owner which means you share a slice of a richly layered profit cake.  Some years that slice may be larger or smaller than others; and as a new Partner it is always likely to be smaller than an experienced Partner’s slice – that’s just the way it works. The reality is you and your fellow Partners also need to decide if you like the taste of the completed cake, sometimes business case might take two attempts to understand if it’s right and sometimes it’s best to look outside of your current firm for the opportunity to share your kind of cake in the right proportions.


Reality Number 2.  Hard work and earned respect will have got you on Director or Partner track. Now to succeed through the business case you need to develop a strong personal brand that will lead to winning work.  Think about evolving a specialising within your technical discipline that will allow you to develop that all-important revenue stream.  Being a pink car in a garage of primary coloured counterparts will allow you to stand out from the crowd and enhance your professional value.


Reality Number 3.  Getting through Partner Business Case is about making sure you constantly tend to three “life” buckets and try to keep them as evenly full as possible – that means making time for work, family and yourself.  Balancing all three and ensuring none get empty or overflow is crucial to giving yourself the best chance of success.  Outsource those life tasks that don’t add to your buckets and ensure you’ve always got some in reserve for firefighting!


Thank you to Neil Robinson of Mazars, Claire Spencer of RSM and Angela Cross of BDO LLP for sharing their experiences of the reality of “How to make Partner”. Below is a summary of Heather Townsend’s 10 Lessons. Heather Townsend has sold more than 20,000 copies of her books “How to make partner and still have a life’, ‘Poised for Partnership’ and ‘The Go-To Expert’ which are available at Amazon.com.

To find out how Rutherford Cross can help you to achieve your career potential, contact [email protected].