Keeping up to date post qualification
You have done all the hard work. You have sacrificed your social life and your sanity and studied so hard you can’t study any more. You have completed the endless amount of examinations and just received the results confirming you have passed and now a fully qualified accountant. Before you get start thinking you will never have to study or attend a lecture or seminar again you need to stop.
Just because you can now call yourself a member of the ACCA or ICAEW or CPA, or whatever other professional accountancy body you qualified with, it doesn’t mean the learning stops there. When you sign up to be a fully fledged member of your professional body there are many different terms and conditions you are agreeing to abide by. One of the terms is what is known as continuous professional development (“CPD”). CPD, as its name suggests, is post qualification training and learning you need to complete your day to day job.
The world of accountancy is dynamic and forever changing. There are continuous changes in tax rates, tax rules and regulations frequently change, company law often changes and there are new and proposed accounting standards all the time. In order to do your job as an accountant properly, you need to ensure you keep up to date and abreast of all the different changes as they happen. This may seem like a tedious task, and reality it is however it is very important to ensure you can do everything you can to properly deal with your clients’ financial affairs. So, what do we have to do to keep up to date? Fortunately, there are no requirements to sit any more examinations. Your time of examinations truly has come to an end.
CPD is achieved by attending courses and lectures on different topics. Such topics may include accountancy updates, audit updates, VAT and tax updates etc. There are many training providers that, for a small fee of course, offer this type of training. Mercia is one of the best and offers great value for money training. These training providers typically consist of accountants who used to work in practice but have moved in to training. As such, these ex-accountants know about accountancy and now spend all their time reading and swotting up on the changes and the proposed changes before doing lectures on the subjects. Courses held by these training providers are highly recommended and represent very good value for money. Having a trainer do the research removes the need for you to do it, which leaves you more time to concentrate on servicing your clients.
Just because you are qualified and finished your examinations it doesn't mean the learning stops. All qualified accountants must keep up to date with changes in the accounting world and this is best achieved by attending courses and lectures. The courses and lectures provided by Mercia come highly recommended.
Technology is a wonderful thing and the advances in broadband and the internet means that many training providers now present course material over the internet via a webinar. This is great for those accountants who cannot get to a course or lecture for whatever reason. In addition to courses and lectures you need to read the various accountancy magazines and publications which are a valuable resource. The publications will have extensive details of all changes, as well as what is in the pipeline.
Every qualified accountant will have to make an annual declaration to their professional body confirming they have satisfied the CPD requirements. In order to satisfy the CPD requirement you have to do a minimum number of hours of verifiable CPD and a minimum number of non-verifiable CPD. When completing CPD you can’t attend any course or lecture, it has to be relevant to your day to day job. So, if you are a corporate accountant you can’t use an audit update course towards your CPD requirement. Similarly, if your day to day job is a tax accountant a course on financial accounting cannot be used towards your annual CPD requirement.
Professional accounting bodies are hot on CPD and carry out random checks to ensure their members are actually satisfying their CPD requirement. If you are unfortunate enough to be checked by your professional body it is your responsibility to produce evidence showing you have satisfied your CPD requirements. Failure to produce any evidence will mean you have not fulfilled your CPD requirements and you are likely to be reprimanded. In the worst case scenario you may lose your membership, rendering all those years of study and examinations will be for nothing.
The ACCA website offers a CPD module so all ACCA members can fulfil their annual CPD requirements online and via webinars.
CPD may be tedious and many practicing accountants see it as a waste of time, however it is an important part of being a qualified accountant. Because of the severe consequences of failing to satisfy your annual CPD requirement, you have to ensure you comply and do all the necessary CPD required by your professional body.