The career path of a firm administrator is as varied as the responsibilities the job often entails. Some develop an interest in operations and efficiency after spending time as practicing accountants. Others transform client service or office assistant jobs into more influential positions in operations and administration. Some come from corporate accounting departments or have experience in operations at other professional services firms. Firm administrators may have backgrounds in accounting, operations, technology, project management, human resources, marketing or any number of related areas.
While the skills and experience of firm administrators may differ, they have several key attributes in common. A new ebook, “Firm Operations & Administration: Building a Strong Foundation for Successful Firms,” offers a look at this evolving role and what it takes to make the most of it.
The firm administrator works closely with firm management. However, without a strong relationship, the firm administrator will struggle to make an impact. The role of firm administrator in firm operations can mean many different things to different people. That’s why it’s important that everyone involved be on the same page.
More and more, firm administrators are rising through the ranks into executive positions. While not all firms will have a Chief Operating Officer or other executive-level titles for firm administration, many partners appreciate a firm administrator who can make important decisions, guide staff and provide insight into the operation of the firm. In fact, even without an executive-level title, leadership ability can help build trust to gain more responsibility and open up career opportunities.
Since firm administrators often work with many different teams within the firm, they need to be able to balance competing interests, facilitate compromises when necessary, and provide a bridge between partners and staff. In cases where the partner is hesitant to give up control, the firm administrator will need to present the problem and potential solutions in a persuasive way. Of course negotiation skills are important for any professional, but especially professions that work with diverse areas across the firm.
Lastly, firm administrators are often responsible for leading change throughout the firm. Most people resist change to some extent, so being able to advocate for and lead change is vitally important. With the rapid pace of change in the profession, being able to modernize processes can make a huge difference. Firms need people who can not just react to change, but proactively seek it out.