Value of Continuing Education

As I was attending Convergence 2014 with over 1,200 of my fellow CPAs from the Dallas area, I began thinking about the value of Continuing Professional Education (CPE). For a majority of CPAs like me, continuing education has been a requirement from the day we received our license. In some ways it is just another in a long list of compliance requirements we have in our lives – file your taxes, register your vehicle and get your CPE. The reality is so much more than that though.

We live in a world that is constantly changing around us. Some of the changes are more obvious than others. New accounting standards, auditing standards and tax laws occur every year and we receive numerous announcements about the changes. Other changes just seemed to happen without much notice. The move to 24 hour a day connectivity started with dial-up, but now is ubiquitous with smartphones and ever expanding cellular networks. Anyone remember the joy the finding those vacation spots where the cellphone or Blackberry did not work? They are getting as hard to find as someone who still uses a Blackberry these days.

Continuing education may have started out as a regulatory compliance requirement, but today it is a career survival requirement. If you are not keeping up with everything going on in at least in your niche of the profession you will quickly find your skills outdated and your employer or clients ready to find someone else who has kept up with the times. So the question is what have you learned in the last year, month or week?

Our profession recognized decades ago that continuing education is a critical factor in providing the service our clients and employers want from us. I, for one, am very glad that learning something new has become ingrained into our profession. We have a lot of debates about the relevance of historical financial statements, the audit and many other things CPAs do, but without the focus on continuing education I think we would have lost relevance as a profession years ago. Instead, today we are debating the best way to stay relevant; that I a much better place to be.

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