Accounting | The Profession

Use CPD hours to achieve that next promotion, expert says

Four tips to make professional development work the best for you and your career

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Businesswomen handshaking in auditorium corridorAttending a conference not only generates CPD hours, but is a great networking opportunity for your career as well. (Getty/Luis Alvarez)

As another year wraps up, CPAs across the country have more than closing their books and setting resolutions on their minds. 

Dec. 31 (March 31 in Quebec) also marks the deadline for completing continuing professional development (CPD) hours, which must be submitted by June 1, 2020. With 20 mandatory hours to be logged annually—and 120 hours per triennial by 2021—it’s no small feat, especially when juggling professional, personal and, these days, holiday obligations. 

Below are some tips for making the most out your CPD hours, not only leveraging them professionally, but getting them done in a timely and efficient manner. 

1) SAVE TIME ONLINE 

Perhaps an obvious choice these days, but online courses, as studies report, offer students the flexibility to complete courses at their own pace, are often more cost-effective and can even garner better results from a learning perspective.   

With more than 200 online CPD options offered by CPA Canada, there is a variety to choose from including full certificate programs, such as Cybersecurity Framework, Data Management and Public Sector, that are not only relevant to the accounting profession, but also on the cutting edge in an age of digital transformation and disruption. 

“For CPAs in industry, public practice, public sector and NFP, they [online courses/programs] cover anything from taxes to ethics,” says Geneviève Grenier, FCPA, FCMA, director, professional programs with CPA Canada. “There really is something for everyone.”

2) CHANNEL YOUR INTERESTS

Focus on what interests you, and you’ll not only breeze through courses more quickly, but reap better results, suggests Grenier. 

“There’s a reason people say, ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’,” she says. “When you find a topic you’re interested in, there will likely be multiple learning options available.”   

Get to know how you learn best, how you engage with and absorb information most effectively. Do you prefer listening to a podcast on your commute, taking notes during a webinar, networking with a keynote at a conference, participating in group activities via a workshop, or reading independently over a coffee? 

“Everything from formal classroom workshops, online options, or podcasts for your commute are all available to get you the hours you need,” Grenier adds.

3) FIND BALANCE, PLAN AHEAD

With plenty of ways to generate CPD hours, the trick is not to limit yourself, advises Grenier. Map out what you want to achieve and find the balance necessary to do so, she adds. 

This requires assessing your work and personal obligations first. Weigh and allot what time you have left to focus on professional development. Think short- to long-term and build a plan from there. 

Can you attend that conference in the spring? (It’s a great networking opportunity.) When will you allocate time to read that report? (It’s a must-read given your role and industry.) What courses pique your interest? (That will also help you develop in your organization or career.)

“Try to find a balance that will satisfy your current needs as a professional in your day-to-day, but most important, plan ahead,” Grenier says. “Where do you want your career to be in the next two to five years? Look for a topic, or series of courses, that will help grow in the next role and ultimately achieve your long-term goal.”

Once a plan’s in place, commit to it, entering details into your calendar, she adds. “If it is in your calendar, it will happen,” says Grenier. “Sign up early for courses and other offerings and you will get it done.”

When logging your CPD hours, keep in mind that 50 per cent of them must be “verifiable”, meaning they require documentation—a certificate, transcript, attendance record, invoice, hour log, copy of presentation, etc.—as proof of completion.

CPA Canada’s Practitioner’s Pulse webinar series, which covers current accounting, audit and assurance, tax and technology developments that will affect your practice—as well as its on-demand webinars covering topics such as IFRS guidance, and climate change disclosure and decision-making—are verifiable options to consider.

4) SEIZE THE MOMENT 

Don’t sell yourself short by skimping out on opportunity. Generating CPD hours could be the step you need for your next promotion or career move. 

“Even if your day-to-day is not exactly where you would like to be in the near future,  you can use your CPD as a way to test new scenarios and try different topics,” Grenier says. 

Whether you are completing a certification to branch out in your career or attending a conference to mingle with the who’s-who of your industry, generating CPD hours will keep you viable in your field, she adds.   

“As a professional, it is important to stay abreast of the changes and market expectations by keeping up on your continuous professional development hours,” she says. “CPD requirements will ensure you stay relevant to your field of expertise and will keep you moving forward in your career.” 

LEADING THE WAY 

Prepare for your next career move with CPA Canada’s flexible CPD learning options, including virtual classrooms, online certificate programs, podcast series, conferences, and more.