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On a level

The challenges facing finance directors working within a partnership structure differ significantly to other businesses.

There are no shareholders, no chief executive, no board. Instead, the flat structure allows for equal power spread across the partners who are 'in the club'. For the FD, with no statutory power, the challenge is one of avoiding becoming simply a rubber stamp.

Two finance directors with direct experience of running the finances in a partnership give their views of the peculiar job FDs face when working with partners.

Chris Turner

A qualified chartered accountant he has worked for Lloyd's of London, Binder Hamlyn and Clifford Chance

The meeting room was becoming uncomfortably warm. Made-to-measure jackets hanging on the backs of chairs and shirt sleeves rolled up, it was time to make the call.

My boss appeared, a single side of technical briefing in hand. Just five minutes later he said his goodbyes and left; the deal had been done. I was pleasantly shocked and surprised at the efficiency of the process.

This was partnership governance at its best: a decision approved in principle at board level; parameters for negotiation set; a senior manager appointed to get the transaction to it's last phase; and a partner with authority to drive the deal home. So much for the image of partnerships as places where decision-making is suffocated by collegiality and implementation is as stodgy as a cheap gateau.

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