Bring on the Speakers!
The CCH Connections: User Conference 2018 is less than two months away, and last week represented the first week of open registration for conference sessions. As every year, #CCHUC18 sessions will offer timely training as well as unique subject matter that’s hard to find elsewhere. This year will be exceptional, as our session schedule touts one of our strongest speaker line-ups in recent memory.
The Topic of Leadership Transitions
Renee Moelders will be one of our session speakers this upcoming October. Renee is a former CPA firm administrator who has taken her years of industry experience to a broader platform. As a consultant with ConvergenceCoaching, LLC she helps public accounting firms grow and develop leaders. So it was welcome news when she agreed to participate in this current edition of our #CCHUC 2018- Speaker Spotlight Series. In this brief Q&A she will provide us with a teaser to her session titled, “Transitioning Leadership Responsibilities Effectively from One Generation to Another”. Lets begin!
User Conference Session Preview
Question: Are firms on track with transitioning leadership?
Renee Moelders: Most firms we meet are under-planning for transition. In our experience, transition planning should begin 2 – 5 years before a leader plans to exit the firm, with the last two years being a true hand-off of responsibilities. In addition, firms are under-resourcing transition by not hiring ahead or setting aside the time to plan and implement the necessary steps to make succession successful.
Question: Do you find that firm leaders are reluctant to talk or even think about transitioning out of a firm?
Renee Moelders: It’s an emotional topic that most of us feel uncomfortable discussing. We tiptoe around the topic, which unfortunately leaves clients and staff wondering what’s next. This in turn causes clients to find another firm, or staff to look for another long-term “home” because they worry that the transition won’t go smoothly or the firm won’t survive. There is a better way – have all firm leaders declare their projected retirement date annually. Once a leader is 2 – 5 years from exit, they enter the official transition period and the planning begins. Dates can change. It doesn’t have to be written in stone. But at least the firm can have transparent discussions about planning and timelines.
Question: With more baby boomers retiring, are you finding the majority of firm leaders properly preparing their future leaders for transition?
Renee Moelders: There is a shift happening in the marketplace and more firm leaders are providing leadership training for their managers and young partners, even senior-level staff. I still believe the profession is woefully unprepared for the transition to come. By 2029, 11 years from now, the youngest baby boomers will be turning 65. There will be a mass exit from the profession over the next 10 years.
Question: How prepared are most firms in dealing with the transitioning of key employees?
Renee Moelders: Firms might be overlooking key administrative leaders and non-partner personnel, including non-equity partners, directors and even senior managers and managers. I’d recommend target retirement date declaration for all key leaders, not just partners, where the same transition period and planning process applies. Also firms should promote the idea of always having a “second” in all client relationships, or in the management of essential firm functions, so that leaders are consistently building in a backup and developing a potential successor. Make succession an ongoing process, not an event, and then transition becomes easy.
Question: What roles in a firm are most at risk for causing disruption when transitioned?
Renee Moelders: The toughest roles to transition are Managing Partner, QC Partner, Service Line Leaders, and even Firm Administrator. They are tough for different reasons, including politics, specialty skills required, lack of broad “ownership” of tasks and a “one-man show” mentality, and the breadth of tasks managed. Sometimes it makes sense to evolve the role as transition is occurring, and a leader might be replaced by multiple personnel. It’s important to be creative and look at skill blocks and where they might fit versus trying to clone a departing leader.
Question: What have you seen as the most beneficial aspects of successful leadership transitions?
Renee Moelders: Transition allows others in the organization to rise up and shine, and effect change in ways that couldn’t occur before the transition. If we create a culture where transition is an ongoing process then we can generate a change-ready, “get better” approach at all times.
Question: What have you seen as the most negative aspects of unsuccessful leadership transitions?
Renee Moelders: Entities that don’t survive transition, leaders who fight and don’t trust one another in the transition, and client and staff turnover due to the chaos. It doesn’t have to be this way!
Question: In closing, which UC attendees should consider attending your session?
Renee Moelders: This session will be applicable to all levels of client-facing staff and administrative leaders. We’ll talk about what it takes to support both those transitioning as well as team members accepting transitioned responsibilities. We’ll generate lively discussion and help attendees solve the transition issues they are facing today.
This Q&A only covered a fraction of what Renee will dive into, at her upcoming session in October, so don’t miss the rest of her message. At this year’s CCH User Conference, you and your team will have a wealth of choices among 70+ unique sessions. Visit the CCH Connections: User Conference 2018 registration site, to view a full list of our upcoming sessions.