Writing in The Globe and Mail, Jacoline Loewen profiles the Canadian firm B+H Architects, focusing on the firm's succession plan. Loewen, a consultant who specializes in mergers and acquisitions, notes that the firm's succession plan is older than many firms: It was established in 1980, and it still serves the B+H today.
The central tenets of the plan are straightforward enough. Implemented when founders Sydney Bregman and George Hamann were planning to retire, the idea to attract new talent, encourage principals to stay with the firm, and secure liquidity when partners retire. The founders established a succession plan that determines a principal's retirement age at the time a principal buys into the firm, Loewen explains. This means that "new principals know the exact age they will be required to start giving up units of ownership. They can continue to be active—and many are—but they no longer have any ownership."
Succession at B+H is not exactly one-in, one-out: In a tangent, Loewen writes that B+H has grown from 10 principals in 2009 to 32 principals today. (Much of that growth has meant adding principals with expertise in mergers and acquisitions.) Whether or not the pace of growth is enviable or advisable, the underlining succession strategy that the firm's founders established in 1980 still maintains. The ownership of the firm is always flowing from longtime or older principals to newer or younger principals.
That's a novel feature: By telling incoming principals when they'll be shown the door, they clarify the path for ambitious architects looking to get in.