Continuing professional education. It’s a necessary part of the accounting field. CPE helps your staff retain licenses, stay up with the latest trends and changes, and ultimately keep your accounting and corporate finance departments up and running. But without a proper approach to running a program, all of the money and effort that you put into it could be wasted.

Challenges Persist in Managing a CPE Plan

From program design to the selection of tools, timing, and courses, handling all of this is rarely as easy as you may hope. Company leaders have approached this in a variety of ways over the years, ranging from low maturity approaches focused on cost to modern mentalities such as gamifying CPE.

Following the year that was 2020 and the changes companies needed to make to adapt, CPE training was just one of many areas for improvement. The end of in-person training, the move to virtual events, and the diversification of the curriculum each have made a significant impact on the way people learn.

Leading the Charge: Seven Steps to Creating a Plan

But as a leader, you need to help people identify their learning blind spots and choose training opportunities that align with the company’s needs—all without being too strict and inflexible, according to Journal of Accountancy. Therefore, it pays to ask how to approach a program and ensure it runs smoothly. For those looking into it, JoA offered seven steps to embrace:

  1. Start with Vision and Strategy: Your company has a mission and a strategy to get there. What can your employees learn today that will help accomplish this mission in five or ten years?
  2. Build around Employee Career Paths: To pair CPE to the needs of staff members at different stages in their careers, one option to take is to develop an expectations grid. Define key job functions, such as associate, senior, supervisor, and partner, and outline what employees at each level need to know and when.
  3. Train for Growth: Employees will come and employees will go, but it pays to help them grow professionally. Ask yourself the following: What does each employee need to not only meet their CPE requirements but to also grow professionally? Where are the skills gaps? What type of training will help each employee and your firm? 
  4. The Power of Personalization: It’s important to balance company needs with employee learning paths and styles. Give each staff member some “measure of choice” regarding their CPE training and get to know about employee interests, aspirations, and more.
  5. Connect CPE with Performance Management: When creating annual growth plans for employees, make sure you tie any plans in with your firm’s career and performance management systems.
  6. Go Beyond the Technical: Alongside technical skills, CPAs need leadership, communication, strategic, and critical-thinking skills. If you don’t invest in some of these higher-level skills, when you need them, it will be too late.
  7. Ensure They’re Learning: Once a CPE program is completed, ask attendees: “What were your top three takeaways, and how do you plan to integrate what you learned into your daily work?” 

CPE Made Easy with Controllers Council and Illumeo

Staying on top of CPE can be a challenge, but with Illumeo and the Controllers Council, it doesn’t have to be. We recently partnered with Illumeo, the global online learning partner to leading companies and firms that rely on skills and certification in Finance, Accounting, Tax, HR, Leadership and more.

With thousands of courses available, you can match company needs with available training. Plus, with Controller Council membership, you can get 10 percent off! To claim, simply click here and the discount will be applied automatically on checkout. Or use code CONTROLLERSCOUNCIL10.

Additional Resources

The CPE Challenge: Affording Your Continued Education and Focusing on What Matters

What Does the 2021 Hiring Market Look for Accounting Professionals?

Five Things to Avoid on Your Path from Controller to CFO