I’m sitting at a national conference with colleagues at a session about changing expectations of millennials and the workplace … I know … really? Not another one! Anyhow, the audience was surprisingly engaged as the speaker talked about mostly already mainstream HR issues: flexible work schedules, driverless cars, work anywhere, anytime, unlimited vacations, a computer on your wrist, casual dress, 30-hour work week, blurring of lines for personal and professional responsibilities, parental leave and the list goes on.

prof-devAs a woman of a certain age – ahem, I couldn’t help but think about when I was a young working mother of two (kids involved in sports, music, academics, etc.) working in an all-male office in a predominantly male profession, I can honestly say I could never have conceived the workplace as we know it today.  Although my needs were exactly the same as working parents today, working from home because my six-year old was sick wasn’t even on my radar screen. (In fact, I may have even been inclined to call in sick for myself at that time, rather than draw attention to being a working mom!)

The evolution (or was it revolution?) of the workplace makes total sense for employers and employees alike.  These common-sense changes find a workplace with happier, less stressed employees who are focused on work when they can produce their best work and are happy to go the extra mile as a trade off when needed.  When you think about it, isn’t that the goal?

So, if we are willing to embrace these remarkable work/life changes, why wouldn’t we expect, no, demand, that other models keep pace with today’s needs? My challenge for your consideration is the hours-based CPE regulatory model. I know this may seem like another – “Really?” “This again?” topic, but change can be painfully slow when regulatory bodies are involved.

As professionals who need to keep up on complex issues, mountains of technical regulations and changing employer or client needs, it just makes sense that our professional development model be designed to give CPAs the skills and knowledge needed to contribute to their professional competence and in a method and timeframe that best suits their needs.

We are fortunate in Indiana to have leaders in the Society, the profession and those serving on the Board of Accountancy who are willing to challenge the current system and create potential alternatives to our outdated model. As this is being written, changes to the rule for Indiana’s ethics requirement approved by the Board of Accountancy and the Attorney General’s Office last Friday awaits the Governor’s approval. When final, Indiana will be the first state in the country to approve a competency-based option for license renewal for CPAs.

And, yes, many others are trying to figure out a solution too, but many are focused on the question of “how do we regulate that?” vs. “what protects the public and provides CPAs with the best, most appropriate professional development to competently carry out their job?” After all, isn’t that the goal?

If we all agreed, my next challenge to you is to lead the change. Share just one sentence … or just one word … about what you need professional development to look like for you to be competent as a CPA. Who knows, maybe there will be a young professional sitting in a session in the not too distant future wondering “What was CPE?”