What CPE will members take for their 120 hours for the renewal in 2017? That’s right 2015 is the beginning of a new license cycle for CPAs in Indiana! (Not to worry, you will hear a lot about renewing individual licenses and firm permits with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency by June 30. So let’s keep this conversation about professional development.)

prodev2Like the first day of school, the pencils are sharpened and everyone has a crisp, white, clean sheet of paper in front of them.  So I’ll ask, have you thought about what you will take for professional development over the next three years?

  • Do you have a personal professional development plan?
  • Does your CPE plan tie-in to your organization’s business goals or competencies?
  • What core competencies or technical competencies do you want to master in the next three years?
    • Better yet, what level of achievement do you already have in the core competencies?
    • Wait – Are you asking – “What are the profession’s core competencies?” Review this INCPAS white paper to find out.

Ok, let’s back up, when you started to think about the courses you would take, did the conversation go something like this?

“Let’s see, I need a minimum of 20 hours per year, there’s an ethics requirement, (4 hours in the three-year period), although what I currently do has nothing to do with auditing I have to spend money and time on A&A courses.  And, there’s something about only being able to have 50% of my hours as self-study – hmm … I don’t remember, do webinars count as self-study? Oh yeah, I have that new not-for-profit project – I better brush up on Form 990s! And I am hiring for two positions this year (I don’t want to deal with the crazy attitude I had to put up with on my last new hire!) maybe something about hiring practices?”

Yup, thought so. That is so wrong!  Shouldn’t your focus for your professional development be on what you need to know to do your job competently, effectively and with integrity? What does sitting in a seat for 120 hours really prove about what kind of a CPA I am?

So, what if there were no rules or requirements for continuing professional education?  (This may be “blasphemy” for some, or “music to my ears” for others.) Just give it some thought. Think of the blank sheet of paper and consider your plan for professional development as if there were no rules.  How would your plan differ from what you might take to “get your 120?” What skills will you need in the next 3-5 years to serve your client or employer’s needs?

I’m going to guess that someplace in there you checked off a couple of technical skills, maybe some regulatory update courses, a free Professional Issues Update and some management or professional improvement courses.

Do you want to improve your skills in areas like communication, leadership, critical thinking and problem solving? If so, I challenge you to consider some of the competency-based courses available from the CPA Center of Excellence®.  They are different than anything you’ve taken and they will really make you think about your skillset and professional development. And, through a partnership between INCPAS and IPLA, up to 2 of those courses count for a waiver for 16 hours of your CPE requirement if they are completed before December 31 of this year.

Or, consider reading the Quick Start Guide to identify where you need to focus your development. Frameworks and checklists are provided to plan your professional development, and core competency descriptors are included. Are you wondering, is this an ad? It’s not meant to be. It is meant to give you options and resources that will help you be a better CPA.

So just think about it, what will you write on your blank sheet of paper?