Innovative Approaches to Succession Planning

Finding and retaining staff is consistently a challenge for many accounting firms. However, BNA CPAs and Advisors in Rock Hill, South Carolina is an exception. This firm’s innovative approach to technology and staffing has helped the firm achieve success. And thanks to a great culture, as well as a family connection, the firm’s founder, Bernie Ackerman doesn’t have to worry about succession planning.

Succession Planning is Never a Given

In a podcast recorded this summer at the AICPA Engage conference, Jody Padar and Liz Gold interviewed Bernie and his son, Jason Ackerman about their firm’s culture. While passing down the firm to his son may seem like an obvious succession plan, it’s isn’t always a given. The next generation has to actually want to pursue the same goal.

According to Jason, “I needed to come back and at least tell my dad early on if I was going to take over the practice. I didn’t want to leave him in a bad spot if I didn’t really like it. And then he’s 70 years old and he has to sell the practice to somebody else. So I really wanted to give him time. But I really have enjoyed helping the firm transition to the next level. And I think that’s my goal – to take it from my dad’s generation. And he obviously did a great job in building the firm. But now it’s my job to take it to the next level.”

Technology and Firm Culture

The firm’s innovative culture plays a big part in its success, not just with clients but with employees as well. Bernie explained, “Our firm was always relatively progressive. During the times when CPAs weren’t as progressive as they are today…. I would say we were probably in the top 10% of the firms that were in that technology craze and doing everything we could in the 80’s and the 90’s to be high tech.”

Jason went on to further describe the firm’s culture. “What my dad was really good at even before they had the buzzwords of today, is that he really built the firm on two core principals,” he continued. “Which is client service do everything you can to make the client happy and building the culture of the firm. So really focusing on making your employees happy, having low turnover, making sure they’re taken care of and they feel part of the team. So my dad had already set that foundation from the very beginning…”

To hear more about BNA CPAs and Advisors’ culture of innovation, listen to the whole interview below, and then download Jody’s latest whitepaper, “The New Firm Transformation: Technology, Growth and the Future.”


Aimee Hall

Product Marketing Manager at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting

All stories by: Aimee Hall

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