How to Create a Succession Plan In Your Accountancy Firm

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Succession planning is the art of ensuring your company is prepared to thrive and grow in the future through how you plan the people part of your growth.  Used correctly, this strategy ensures your accountancy company can continue on a successful path in a competitive environment, even as crucial leaders leave your organisation.

After all, many accountancy firms will eventually lose critical talent for one reason or another. Some members of your team may branch off in search of a new opportunity, while others will choose to retire as they reach a certain age. Succession planning ensures you can quickly fill empty roles with educated, experienced, and engaged professionals.

While succession planning has always been a valuable tool for accountancy firms, it has grown increasingly important in recent years as skilled professionals become more scarce. Here’s everything you need to know about developing your own succession plan.

What is Succession Planning, and Why is it Important?

Succession planning is a strategy used to identify and develop future leaders in your business. It involves pinpointing relevant candidates for critical roles throughout your organisation, from both within your existing workforce and sometimes external environments too.

Ultimately, succession planning prepares companies to fill in-demand roles as quickly as possible, with team members who already understand the company and demonstrate the skills and characteristics required for the position.

Used correctly, a succession plan can protect your business from uncertainty, ensuring essential positions can be filled as quickly as possible, with less investment into recruitment and hiring practices. Succession planning can also help to improve company culture by ensuring employees can see a future with a business and progress into new roles throughout their careers.

How to Develop a Succession Plan

Fundamentally, succession planning involves carefully evaluating your business environment, deciding which roles need to be filled rapidly, and seeking out professionals you can nurture into future leaders. Here are some of the steps you can use to develop your own succession plan.

1.    Examine Your Organisation

First, it’s important to clearly understand which roles need to be filled at all times within your company. While the loss of anyone can be problematic in today’s skills-short environment, some empty positions can cause more challenges to the business than others.

For instance, if you lose your number one account manager, you may struggle to continue delivering excellent customer service and support to your main clients, making it harder to retain revenue and customer loyalty. Looking at your current team, ask yourself:

  • Which positions are crucial to business continuity? If certain employees left your company today, what would impact your organisation?
  • Which skills and capabilities make your current leaders so crucial to your organisation? How can you develop and nurture those skills in other staff members?
  • Which roles are most at risk of becoming vacant in the near or short term? Do you know certain employees approaching retirement or considering other jobs?

2.    Look for Succession Candidates

Once you know which roles you want to fill and what skills and characteristics the people in those positions already possess, you can look for new succession candidates. Examine your current talent pipeline, looking at the employees already showing exceptional results in your organisation, as well as candidates whom your specialist finance recruiter is able to source.

Categorise your people based on their succession potential. Define which of your employees already have most of the skills required to move into a leadership position and which have potential but still need additional training and guidance.

When looking for successors, focusing on the people who are “next in line” for a role on your organisational chart is tempting. However, it’s important not to overlook other promising employees. Even new additions to your team could be nurtured into fantastic leaders with the right guidance.

3.    Speak to Your Succession Candidates

Once you know your most promising employees, speaking with them about their career goals and what they hope to get out of their time with your business is important. Just because you feel someone might be perfectly suited to a new leadership role doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be interested in that promotion.

Ask your succession candidates whether they’d be interested in taking over a position someday or what kind of leadership roles they’re most interested in. Be careful during this conversation not to guarantee a promotion at any specific stage.

4.    Start Developing your Succession Candidates

If the employees you choose for your succession plan are interested in pursuing higher levels of responsibility in your business, then start working with them on a plan to get them “job ready”. Work together to pinpoint the gaps between the skills your promising candidates already have and the expertise they will need to thrive in a new role.

Look at training opportunities and ask your existing accountancy experts whether they’d be interested in taking on a mentorship or coaching role.

It may also be worth looking for opportunities to allow your succession candidates to experience what their new role might be like. For instance, if a manager is taking a vacation, ask a potential successor to temporarily assume some of their responsibilities.

5.    Build Succession Planning into Your Hiring Strategy

Finally, once you’ve identified the core roles you need to fill, and begun training your employees to prepare for new roles, ask yourself how your succession plan will influence your hiring strategy. As the accountancy professionals in your team are promoted, this will undoubtedly leave gaps you need to fill elsewhere in the business.

Review your overall plan for capturing and nurturing talent within the accountancy landscape. Ask yourself whether you currently have a complete talent pipeline you can access when you need to expand your team or refill empty roles. Consider whether you’ll be exposed to any specific risks during your succession plan, like leaving certain teams understaffed or increasing the risk of burnout for other employees.

Working with a professional accountancy recruitment company will help you ensure you can keep filling the gaps left behind by evolving team members.



About Rebus Financial Recruitment

Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, which historically range from various organisations, including SMEs, to large PLCs.

We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs, and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly. To find out more, contact one of our team today, or you can call us on 01282 930930.

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