What Makes a Great Partnership

Just About Everything You Need to Know
By August J. Aquila

The globally renowned author of How to Engage Partners in the Firm’s Future, and Leadership at its Strongest,

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Practical procedures and processes to benefit every partner and partnership

This handbook will help your firm create a partnership that is truly a winning team. Or your money back. That’s the CPA Trendlines guarantee. Take 30 days to study “What Makes a Great Partnership,” and if you’re not 100% satisfied that it has the power to change your firm, then simply return it for a full money-back refund. No questions asked. No hassle no problem. That’s how confident we are in August J. Aquila’s formula for success.

August has made it easy for you to reap the benefits of his 30-plus years of consulting experience to professional services firms around the world. Simply follow the processes and see for yourself how this book can change your partners and how you can make your partnership into something better — maybe even great.

  • First, read this book with a pencil in hand. You’ll want to take notes in the margins or on paper. Look for concepts that to incorporate into your firm and highlight those that you are already doing or could do better.
  • Second, have your management and leadership team read the book so they are familiar with the concepts.
  • Third, hold a management and leadership team meeting. August has placed a suggested list of questions at the end of each chapter. These can be used as talking points for the meeting. Don’t try to address all the chapters at once. Take one chapter at a time and have a 2- to 4-hour discussion about the general theme, the suggested questions and action steps that you want to take.
  • Fourth, you should expect some robust dialogue at these meetings. Did we say “robust?” Well, you know what we mean. Be prepared for some sparks to fly. If your people are not open or challenging each other, then you need to set the tone for a more constructive meeting.
  • Fifth, action steps are critical to get real value from the concepts in the book. A robust discussion will certainly heighten awareness of opportunities, but it’s the execution – the call to action – that is most important.
  • Sixth, after each meeting create a 90-day action plan and then review the progress of the plan every 30 days. Each team member should have only one or two goals to accomplish in the 90-day period.

Following this discipline will ensure that you make progress and get results. We guarantee it or your money back.


(Partial listing)

  1. How You Can Get Partners to Change
  2. What is Partner Accountability?
  3. Achieving Partner Unity
  4. If You Don’t Believe Me, Listen to What Gordon Krater Has to Say
  5. What Does It Mean to Be a Partner?
  6. Partnership a Harsh New Reality
  7. Making Partner in an Accounting Firm Is Not What It Used to Be
  8. What It Takes to Become an Equity Partner?
  9. Why Partners Need Written Guidelines
  10. Do Your Partners Pay for Their Own Way?
  11. So, What Does Being a Partner Mean?
  12. What Should Managing Partners Do?
  13. Managing a Practice – The Toughest Job in the World.
  14. What Managing Partners Should Be Doing
  15. Why Leaders Fail
  16. How to Keep Your Edge
  17. Transitioning to a New Managing Partner
  18. Playing at the Peak of Their Game
  19. What Managing Partners Should Focus On
  20. What Makes a Good Compensation Plan?
  21. Why Is It Always About Partner Compensation?
  22. Time for a Partner Compensation Checkup? How to Deal with Difficult and Underperforming Partners Handling Partners with Strong Views
  23. Underperformers Come in Many Shapes and Sizes
  24. 13 Warning Signs of Partners Not Engaged
  25. 25 Years of Dealing with Underperforming and Dysfunctional Partners CHAPTER 6: How to Deal with Partner Retirement
  26. Why Throw Out a Valuable Asset?
  27. Plan Ahead for Partner Retirement
  28. Succession Planning Spells S.U.C.C.E.S.S.

About the author


August J. Aquila is an internationally known speaker, consultant, and author and has held leading positions in the accounting profession for more than 30 years. He is CEO of AQUILA Global Advisors, a full- service consulting firm to accounting, legal and other professional services firms in the US, Canada, UK, and India.

August J. Aquila is a leading contributor and advisor to CPA Trendlines.
See his latest works here.

August focuses his consulting on designing compensation plans, resolving organizational and partner issues, transition planning and developing strategic plans. Before starting AQUILA Global Advisors, he held several executive leadership positions with American Express Tax and Business Services, Inc. He was also a partner in a top 50 firm and regional marketing director for Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC) in Chicago.

In 2003 he was elected into the Association for Accounting Marketing’s Hall of Fame and has been selected as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in The Accounting Profession” by Accounting Today for several years.

He is the author of hundreds of articles and several books on practice management, mergers and acquisitions, and compensation plan designs. Recent books include How to Become the Firm of Choice (Bay Street Group 2016); How to Engage Partners in the Firm’s Future (Bay Street Group 2013); Leadership at Its Strongest (Bay Street Group 2013); Performance is Everything (AICPA 2012); Compensation as a Strategic Asset (AICPA 2007); and Client at the Core (John Wiley & Sons 2004). August is also a co-author, with Rob Lees and Derek Klyhn, of the ground-breaking research on what successful managing partners do to drive improvements in their firm’s competitive and financial performance. He can be reached at aaquila@aquilaadvisors.com or 1-952-930-1295. For more information see www.aquilaadvisors.com.

The practice manual for today’s dynamic partnership

By Marc Rosenberg
Author and Consultant


I have been reading August Aquila’s books, blogs and journal articles for 20 years or more. Every time I read something new from him, I learn something insightful. His new book, What Makes A Great Partnership, continues Aquila’s track record of publishing thought-provoking material.

The first thing I do when I read an article or book is look at who the author is. Being in the profession for over 20 years myself enables me to know who the thought-leaders are in CPA firm practice management who are worth reading. Aquila’s credentials – being a partner at a Top 50 CPA firm, executing countless mergers and consulting to hundreds of firms – arms him to understand the key behavioral issues as well as the nuances (which many are oblivious to) to how partners in a CPA firm function, succeed and fail.

For example, in his book, chapters on How You Can Get Partners to Change, What is Partner Accountability?, What Does It Mean to Be a Partner? and What It Takes to Become an Equity Partner (just to name a few) reflect an understanding of the dynamics among CPA firm partners that is so deep, it leads one to believe that, in addition to Aquila’s expertise in practice management, he is equally qualified as a psychologist.

Arguably, the relations and teamwork among partners in CPA firms are the ultimate keys to success. Reading Aquila’s What Makes A Great Partnership shows us the way.


More rave reviews


I love it! I wish that I had a tool like this when I first began my career thirty years ago at Withum. Every single chapter resonates with me. From start to finish it’s like you’ve lived my career and experienced what I experienced. I would encourage EVERY professional that is a partner or someday wants to be a partner in a firm to use your book as a handbook as they step through their career path! Priceless!

– James C. Bourke, CPA.CITP.CFF.CGMA,
Partner, Technology Niche Practice Leader


August Aquila not only delivers on his promise to describe “What Makes a Great Partnership,” but he also delivers an actionable set of tools and processes to help managing partners work through the minefield of herding self-directed partners to a better place – together. His 35 years of experience in helping professional service partners grow together shows.

– Paul Fisher, CPA
New Giants Consulting, LLC
Author, Beyond The Days of the Giants


This book is expertly written so it can be used as a tool to create and encourage dialogue in your leadership team that will ultimately strengthen the team and the firm. Whether you are a partner, managing partner or desire to be a partner, this book is useful in covering key concepts and strategies for success that can be implemented today as well as for years to come.


– Angie Grissom
President, The Rainmaker Companies


The partnership business model is particularly challenging. In his newest book, August provides a wonderful field guide to successfully managing, growing and creating a great firm partnership.

– Gale Crosley, CPA
President, Crosley + Company

Details: 6×9, Softcover, 200 pages.
ISBN-13: 978-0986258954 (CPA Trendlines) ISBN-10: 0986258954 BISAC: Business & Economics / Accounting / General


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What Makes a Great Partnership