We believe a firm of any size can benefit from having a go-to person for administrative functions who acts as a bridge between partners and staff. Of course, every firm is unique and will have to perform its own assessment of when this role is needed, but one important question to ask is: How much time will we save (and services can we generate) if someone was specifically responsible for handling all administrative issues? Once you begin to consider the possibilities, the value of an administrator will be clear.
In our practice, we’re particularly proud of our strategic planning process and our firm administrator takes a vital role in ensuring that this plan is executed. Everyone from the partners (our firm administrator is a partner) to the high school interns are included in the process. The firm administrator not only makes certain that the process is worthwhile, but also leads the firm in implementing the new decisions and insights. Including the firm administrator in these types of events and always keeping an open line of communication is very important. We have regular meetings with our firm administrator to exchange information and ideas. This communication helps build trust and encourages managing partners to give the firm administrator greater responsibilities.
We believe that if a firm administrator is going to be successful, he or she must have a leadership role. A firm administrator’s success is often a function of the partners’ willingness to let go of many day-to-day responsibilities and trust the administrator to handle them. In our firm, the administrator is involved in everything from the audit process to client relations. Because she has the authority to make decisions on a wide range of issues, the partners are free to devote their time to client services or rainmaking.
Our firm is 29 years old and our firm administrator has been with us for 21 years. It is critical to choose a reliable and dependable individual for this role who understands your firm and wants to be a part of its continued growth. The firm administrator’s main client is the firm itself. Knowing that our firm administrator focuses her energy solely on our firm and understands our current needs, challenges and opportunities provides a sense of a peace to the other members of our practice. Our firm administrator motivates our employees, keeps our firm on track, whether in its strategic planning or more day-to-day issues, and has been a huge part of our success.
Richard C. Stang, CPA/ABV, PFS, is managing partner of DeLeon & Stang, CPAs and Advisors, in Gaithersburg, MD. Jeanie Price, AAAPM, is a partner and director of administration at DeLeon & Stang.
For more information …
According to the “The Role of a Firm Administrator,” a tool found in the PCPS Human Capital Center, firm administrators can help your firm in two big ways. They can oversee tasks that save partners time and help your firm earn more money. Their exact job description will vary based on each firms’ specific needs, but they are essentially the firm’s chief operating officer. Some responsibilities may include:
- Developing and monitoring a marketing plan.
- Monitoring staff productivity and effectively communicating expectations.
- Preparing a formal annual budget.
- Addressing and solving administrative staff issues.
- Developing and monitoring an effective staff scheduling system.
- Monitoring and tracking CPE on a firm-wide basis.
- Developing more efficient billing and collection procedures.
According to the guide, the firm administrator function may exist in any size firm but the need may become the greatest once the firm grows to 15 or 20 people.