For decades, Concannon Miller has advised business owners on succession planning. And more than a decade ago, recognized it was time to start putting their advice into action for their own business.
The firm first developed a succession plan for its shareholders retiring between 2010 and 2020. Those transitions have been very successful and are ongoing.
Recently, Concannon Miller decided to up its game in succession planning even more. In 2015, Concannon Miller started its Next Gen Leader Program, a two-year program geared at preparing its top young CPAs for future leadership positions at the firm.
“We know we need to develop all of our people, but we were looking to do more for our high achievers earlier in their career,” Concannon Miller President & COO Ted Witman says. “We want to make sure we’re providing everything we can to help them succeed.”
The program includes training in leadership, client relations, business development, critical thinking and continuous improvement.
“We’re developing our technical skills every day – this is the other side of the business,” says Mike Bilby, a Next Gen Leader Program member and a senior associate in the firm’s accounting, audit and tax group. “It helps us develop leadership and communications skills – overall it’s a really great program.”
Concannon Miller has long invested in its top young CPAs, but the Next Gen Leader Program ensures a more directed effort, Shareholder Tony Deutsch says.
“We wanted a more formalized and structured program so the people who demonstrate leadership skills get the training they need and it’s not left to chance,” he says. “We’re trying to build the future leaders of the firm.”
Employees have to be senior associates and CPAs to qualify for the program, which comes with bonuses and tuition reimbursement. The goal is to have members from both the Bethlehem and St. Petersburg offices and across the service and market sectors the firm serves. A second Next Gen Leader Program cohort started in fall 2016.
Participants say one of the most beneficial parts of the program is the one-on-one time they get with each shareholder. Each shareholder advises the group on a different area of expertise, from how to build client trust and how to be more productive.
“Many firms our size probably don’t even have dedicated hours to learn leadership skills, where here the shareholders set aside hours to give personal insight,” says Andrew Desiderio, a program member and a manager in the firm’s accounting, audit and tax group.
The program has been deemed successful, with some participants becoming managers or taking other leadership positions, Witman says. The program also is intended to help with employee retention.
“Their feedback to us is how much they feel they’ve grown and that they’ve had development opportunities they didn’t have before,” Witman says.