That’s right. The future of learning is here. The AICPA established a task force on the topic that presented recommendations in May of this year (see the article “AICPA task force advocates for new strategies in professional development” from the May Journal of Accountancy). This has been a long time coming (more than 40 years), but it still has a long way to go. The non-compliance rate for the current CPE model is very high in most jurisdictions. Not because CPAs want to be less than competent, but rather because CPAs recognize that the CPE model fails to address needs in a meaningful way. What is needed a new strategy for more than just learning.

CompetencyThe world of competency assessment and development is changing all around us. Look at what is happening in programs like Carpe Diem schools, Khan Academy and Coursera to name a few. The CPA profession (a leader in continuing education for professionals more than 40 years ago) is lagging behind.

This section of the Code of Professional Conduct clearly articulates the CPA’s responsibility related to competence:

A member should observe the profession’s technical and ethical standards, strive continually to improve competence and the quality of services, and discharge professional responsibility to the best of the member’s ability.

Nowhere does the code suggest that a CPA take 40 hours of CPE per year.

In Indiana, we are taking on the challenge.

In late 2012, the Indiana CPA Society issued The Future of Competency “white paper.” In the paper, competency was defined as: The identification (plan), acquisition (education), and demonstration (experience) of behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for successful performance as a professional. Learning is one part of the future of competency. There are many more aspects in developing a competency.

In order to move forward, INCPAS has been working on a “knowledge management” project for the past few years. The results may very well represent the future of learning leading to the future of competency.

This year we presented to interested CPAs the first and only competency-based online courses in the United States. These courses are interactive, include gamification elements, utilize “nano-learning” and are available on demand. Your schedule, your pace, your style of learning.

These courses are the first and currently only courses in the United States that award the successful participant a “digital badge” upon completion.

Through close work with the Indiana Board of Accountancy, these are the only competency-based courses that qualify for renewal of your CPA certificate (your alternative is a traditional CPE course).  This is the result of working closely with the Indiana Board of Accountancy in developing a “pilot program” that will help to shape the future of competency assessment and development for the CPA profession.

If you want a change in an antiquated system of CPE as we know it for license renewal, you should participate in this process. We can only improve the system with your thoughtful participation. We are making a commitment to improving the system for the benefit of the profession and the clients and employers that you serve.

Let us know what you think.