I was just thinkin’… about how lucky I was to be randomly selected for the CPE audit. Yes, seriously … I know I’ve met the CPE requirements by taking my 120 hours of CPE, including the obligatory ethics and A&A hours, so no big deal.

CPEBut, as I was filling out the audit form, it got me thinkin’. What did I learn from the courses I took over the last three years, and did it make me a better CPA? I picked up some good tidbits of knowledge along the way, learning about new regulations, etc., but one thing I realized was that the things I really learned the most from over the last three years that made me a better CPA didn’t even count toward my license renewal requirements.

Over the last three years:

  • I was on the INCPAS Board of Directors, and learned plenty of things about the CPA profession and about public accounting that I never would have known working in industry. None of that knowledge counts for my license renewal.
  • I later joined the staff, and became staff liaison to the INCPAS Ethics Committee, and was responsible for fielding member calls, calls from committee members to help discuss possible ethical issues, and researched the Code of Professional Conduct and Indiana Accountancy Act to help answer those questions. A great learning opportunity, but doesn’t count toward license renewal.
  • I worked with groups of members to develop responses for various AICPA Exposure Drafts on professional issues, mainly related to ethics and Peer Review.  Again, great learning opportunities, and hopefully our responses helped enable better rules, but the time and knowledge gained doesn’t count toward license renewal.
  • I worked with a number of member committees to draft an Integrated Report for INCPAS. A whole new form of organizational reporting, and a great opportunity to learn and innovate, but again, it didn’t count toward license renewal.
  • I helped work with our Not-For-Profit CFO peer group, facilitating meetings on various topics that enabled great discussions and knowledge sharing among the group members. A great way to learn, but it didn’t count toward license renewal.

I fully believe that as professionals we need to learn and grow throughout our careers, but is sitting in a classroom for 8 hours or watching a webinar the best way to learn and grow? For some things like an A&A update, maybe a class is, but there are so many other ways we learn new things that help us grow throughout our careers, whether it’s working with committees, being involved in a mentoring relationship or a myriad of other possibilities. Why are we stuck on reporting hours spend in a classroom?

Most of the time, if you look around the room, you will find at least one person looking at their phone or computer. That’s not learning, that’s just fulfilling an arbitrary statutory requirement. We need to find a better way to show we’re growing as professionals. What are your thoughts?