Question: I am a senior associate in the finance team at a top 20 City firm and my supervising partner has just told me that he has resigned to move to a US firm. He has offered me a good deal with the possibility of partnership if I move with him, but I’m wondering whether this might be a great chance to make partnership and advance my career where I am. Should I go?
Answer: The first thing that you need to consider is how important is your supervising partner to your firm? Are his clients really his or can the firm retain them? Does the firm need you to stay in order to retain them?
You should also evaluate whether your partner’s move is one of several departures from your firm, the first of many or a one off, i.e. is there a bigger problem at the firm?
Depending on your level of seniority, this is a great chance to leverage your position. If you feel that the clients know you sufficiently well and that the departure of your partner will not significantly damage the firm’s reputation, you should stay put and effectively demand to be made up at the first opportunity and be given the chance to drive the practice forward. Your firm will need you and should value your loyalty.
However, only stay at your firm if you feel it has a chance of remaining a force in your market despite your partner moving on.
If you move with your partner you need some guarantees and preferably in writing. You sound ambitious and therefore you will need to understand the route to partnership. As a new partner, your sponsor will not have as much influence as he would have had at the old firm and he will also need to convince partners in the US in order to make you up. This can be difficult, especially if it takes him longer than expected to get going. Your best bet is to secure partnership from ‘day one’.
So, on balance – stay and make a go of it, but only if your firm isn’t sinking fast.
Nick Woolf is a partner at headhunters Sainty Hird & Partners
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