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What Counts as CPD for Accountants?

If you have a professional accounting qualification, it’s likely you’re required to complete CPD every year. But how do you earn CPD units?

man running upstairs in formal dressIf you have an accounting or finance professional qualification, it’s likely that you’re required to complete a CPD cycle on an annual basis. But how and where can you earn CPD units?We would encourage you to benefit from the CPD you take by taking time to identify gaps in skills and knowledge and then match relevant CPD training to fill those gaps.This can be done in conjunction with an employer or as part of your annual review process.There are a number of key questions around CPD that may cause some misunderstanding, so let’s look at the key questions.

How much CPD do I need to do?

The amount of CPD required depends on your qualification(s).Some accounting bodies, for example, require you to complete a portion of your CPD by finishing courses that they offer.Others provide some ideas on what types of skillsets are applicable for CPD and how you might go about building your annual plan.For example, ACCA requires you to have 40 units (1 unit = 1 hour) of CPD completed on an annual basis. This is broken down into verifiable and non-verifiable units.In order to count a unit as verifiable you must be able to answer ‘Yes’ to these three questions:
  1. Was the learning relevant to your career?
  2. Can you show how it is applied in the workplace?
  3. Can you provide evidence the learning was done?
Note that non-verifiable learning is difficult to provide evidence for, but would be part of regular learning such as technical articles in magazines.CIMA takes a slightly different approach to CPD and do not prescribe the number of units or hours required. As a CIMA member, you are required to do as much as you need to in order to remain professionally competent.If you feel this is a little too non-descriptive there is a framework available for all CIMA members that helps explain how to identify your gaps and build a plan to complete your CPD.
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What counts as CPD?

There may be some doubt around what counts as qualifying CPD for your professional body.It’s often assumed that it has to be restricted to the types of things you studied, such as accounting standards or costing techniques. However, this is not the case.Professional bodies recognise that your qualification is a stepping stone for your career and as you progress your learning requirements will change continuously.Therefore, a range of activities that count as CPD provided that they are relevant to your current role or future career aspirations.Examples of these include, but are not limited to:
  • Work-based learning
  • Secondments
  • Coaching or mentoring, or being coached or mentored
  • Delivering training
  • Other academic or professional qualifications
  • Training courses
  • Research
  • Online learning
No matter what route your career has taken, it’s important to also consider non-technical skills.You may wish to pursue learning in: business management, personal effectiveness, leadership and strategy; or information technology (IT).All of these areas will count for your CPD – what’s important is that the learning is relevant to you and how you demonstrate this learning.Read: How Can CPD Courses Advance My Career?

Where to get CPD?

CPD is available in many forms, internal/external training, online and in-person etc.In the sections above we have shown you what good CPD looks like and what makes it applicable to your learning journey and future career.When choosing your CPD provider(s) consider the following points:
  • Don’t be afraid to think outside the box – Often CPD training gets stereotyped and if you’re an accountant you feel that you must spend time on accounting standards. Think about all the other areas of learning that can enhance your career and make your CPD learning much more enjoyable.
  • Record, record, record – That old audit adage of ‘if it’s not written down, it didn’t happen’ is important for your CPD. Be careful to record the CPD you’ve completed so if asked you can produce it easily. Keep it all in one place and make sure it is accessible.
  • Share your good experiences – If you have completed good CPD courses that you feel others will benefit from, don’t be shy about saying it and then your colleagues will do the same back. This will make your CPD more enjoyable.
  • Don’t be afraid of convenience – CPD does not have to be a chore. Use your time wisely and find a solution that sits best for you. You don’t get extra units for putting yourself through hell to do a course!
  • It’s more than just technical – Remember, it’s not just a technical exercise. Explore new ways for personal development as well. Leave your comfort zone – avoid doing the same things over and over and explore new things.

Final thoughts

So that’s it, all you need to know about where and how to get your CPD points.Bear in mind that getting your CPD units on an annual basis doesn’t need to be a slog, look into new courses, ask your colleagues what they found interesting and upskill in new areas that you’re interested in.Just remember that it needs to be relevant to your job, so make sure you can justify choosing that training, work experience etc. if it’s required.Do you want to check out the courses first? Register now to get access to 2 free CPD courses instantly!
Alan Lynch
4 min read

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