No Partner Vote Needed: 17 Decisions Best Left to the Managing Partner Alone

A lesson in leadership from the front lines.

Tony Kendall

By Marc Rosenberg, CPA
Author of CPA Firm Management and Governance.”

Tony Kendall is the CEO of Mitchell & Titus, a firm of over 170 professionals, 19 partners and locations in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.

Shortly after taking over the reins from the firm’s founder, he orchestrated changes in the firm’s management structure, saying this: “I can’t manage this firm if I have to take a vote every time I want to make a decision.”

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Marc Rosenberg

Marc Rosenberg

All partners usually vote on major decisions, such as:

  • Admitting or dismissing a partner.
  • Mergers and lateral partner hires.
  • Changes to the partnership agreement.
  • Expenditures in excess of a dollar amount.
  • Annual budget approval.

Beyond that, most well-managed firms with a strong managing partner allow him or her to make at least 17 types of decisions without any approval process:

Beyond that, most well-managed firms with a strong managing partner allow him or her to make at least 17 types of decisions without any approval process:

  1. Finalizing goals for partners; performance evaluations of partners.
  2. Assisting with major clients and participating in major prospect pitches.
  3. Determining the services to be provided by the firm – leadership role.
  4. Staff hiring and termination – leadership role.
  5. Staff compensation and benefits – setting overall guidelines.
  6. Staff charge hour target guidelines – leadership role.
  7. Appointing department and industry specialty heads.
  8. Partner retreat planning.
  9. Making preliminary, confidential contact with merger candidates.
  10. Major technology decisions.
  11. Transferring clients between partners.
  12. Approval of WIP write-offs above a certain minimum.
  13. Client acceptance & retention, including credit holds.
  14. Major vendor contract decisions.
  15. Spending decisions, in general, to a dollar limit.
  16. Insurance policy decisions.
  17. Borrowing money – to a dollar limit.
(Copyright 2010-2012 Rosenberg. Adapted with permission.)