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Getting your accounting team to the right CPE

Written on Jun 19, 2024
Getting your accounting team to the right CPE

               (Anna Shvets / pexels)

Accounting leaders, your firm performs best and attracts and maintains quality professionals when you prioritize employee growth. In fact, "growth and development opportunities" appear in almost everyone's Top 10 lists of ways to improve employee satisfaction.

Leaving continuing professional education (CPE) up to individual employees is a surefire way to kill employee growth. Yet many firms need help understanding the importance of establishing a formal CPE provision process.

Planning a thorough CPE strategy enables you and your organization to develop and retain talent, your most essential and costly resource. As a bonus, your team gains additional skills and knowledge, giving your firm a boost at reaching strategic goals. CPE training courses also help bolster your entire firm's expertise and public perception by reducing knowledge gaps that sometimes affect an organization.

Follow our steps below to get started using CPE to its fullest.

Plan ahead

Too often, firms allow employees to determine their own CPE courses. This freedom results in missed opportunities and spending that doesn't produce growth.

With guidance, your employees can better understand what CPE is best for them. They'll avoid courses that don't challenge or boost their weakest areas. They will promptly register for CPE to avoid limited, last-minute choices that don't align with your firm's needs.

With a set process for addressing CPE, you'll better benefit from investing in your employees' continuing education. Employees steer clear of courses they'll never put into practice at work, which would waste valuable time and money.

Plan your employees' CPE in advance based on your company goals, strengths, and weaknesses. You'll do best when you structure your approach to learning and offer curricula with upskilling and reskilling in mind.

Set ‘firm’ goals and objectives

Start with end goals in mind. Determine where your firm is versus where you want to be five to 10 years down the road. Then, create a CPE plan.

Map skill gaps to CPE

Next, consider what abilities propel you toward your goals. Discover what clients want from your firm and determine the additional skills you and your employees must acquire to serve them and their businesses better. Find the CPE courses that help you fill the skill gaps.

Make it employee-specific

Connect the dots for employees. Pair their CPE options to their career stages–associates, management, partners, for example. First, list core competencies for each employee level in your firm. Include the necessary skills and knowledge at each level.

Consider your employees in regard to their roles. Then, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What type of training would benefit your firm or employee?
  • Where do you see skill gaps?
  • What does each employee need to grow professionally?
  • What does each employee need for their CPE requirements?
  • Prioritize those skills that will make the most significant difference. Then, research to find the best CPE to boost those abilities. Include training customized to the specific industry or industries your employees serve.

    Your state’s accounting society can help you further develop your firm’s “expectations grid.” Plus, you can often find quality CPE in the same place. Accountants wanting CPE courses in Ohio can benefit from membership in The Ohio Society of CPAs to align their specific goals to society-offered courses.

    Involve employees in decision-making

    Employees find motivation in the autonomy to plan their CPE. Allow their freedom of choice within confines, as they'll collaborate with you or other leadership. Discuss and record your employees' learning styles, interests, aspirations, and preferred courses (day-long or short).

    Create an annual growth plan with each employee's help. Invest the same effort and planning into every employee's success, regardless of whether or not they desire to climb to the highest levels in your organization.

    Meet regularly to update plans. Check out the guidelines and processes AICPA offers on staff development plans here.

    Praise and appraise

    Meet regularly to praise employee commitment, contributions and growth. Meetings could be informal, such as a coffee chat or lunch.

    Tie your employees' growth to their annual performance review. Employees feel more empowered to grow when it reflects on their performance ratings.

    Follow up

    Have employees present what they learned in their latest CPE course. They could do this in a group meeting to simultaneously work on their presentation skills or at their one-on-one coffee chat or lunch with you. Consider having them fill out a quick form after every CPE course on how they will use their newfound knowledge in the company. AICPA offers templates your employees can use to document their key takeaways.

    Remember essential nontechnical skills

    Being a CPA requires critical and strategic thinking skills, communication and leadership. Ensure your employees get a balanced dose of technical and nontechnical education.

    Make CPE planning a priority

    CPE benefits you, your employees and the firm as a whole. Mindfully creating a process or plan to get staff the right CPE is the best way to produce the benefits that can level up your firm.

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