More on CPE

Following up on my CPE blog from a couple of weeks ago I noticed a recent poll of B&I members on CPE.  The results showed B&I members who work for companies paying for any CPE have dropped from 46% to 26% in last 6 years, and full reimbursement dropped from 29% to 5%. This got me thinking about the employers we work for. They say they value the CPA credential but they don’t put their money where their mouth is. 

In my last blog on this subject I talked about making a plan for your learning each year.  If employers are not paying, that makes planning even more important.  It also makes those plans more personal.  When my employer pays for my CPE, I feel the need to make sure that CPE applies to my current job or the next job the company is looking to move me into.  When I am paying for my own CPE I don’t feel that same compulsion. 

 Over time I think this will have two impacts on employers.  One is equally negative on individuals, but the other hits only the employer. 

The first impact is that B&I CPAs are considering letting their license expire.  This is not a route I recommend, but I see it too often in my colleagues.  Once they are out of public accounting and a CPA license is no longer required, they don’t feel the need to maintain their license.  I agree that an active license is no longer required to do the job, but an active license still represents something very important.  It represents a commitment to abiding by a code of ethics.  It represents a commitment to putting the public interest above personal gain.  It represents a commitment to continual improvement of skills and knowledge.

The last point is the negative for both the employer and employee.  Our companies value us as CPAs because of our skills and knowledge.  Without CPE that knowledge quickly becomes stale and the skills atrophy.  The employer is not getting what they are paying for and the employee quickly loses their edge and ability to advance their career.

The second impact relates to those that decide to maintain their license and pay for their CPE. As I mentioned, CPAs will take courses to advance their career, maybe for their current employer, but all too often for the next employer.  This is the unintended or short-sighted negative for the employer who decides to stop paying for CPE.  It is one more nail in the coffin of loyalty between employer and employee.  As one young CPA mentioned at the recent AICPA Council meeting, “what are you willing to invest in me?”

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