Preparing for the Future

I recently saw a list of people in Texas who lost or had their CPA license suspended, due to failure to complete required CPE. I find that list unfathomable for two reasons. One, how could you let something you worked so hard to get lapse over not completing a reasonable amount of CPE? It can’t be the cost, because you can get all the mandatory CPE for little or no expense now.

And I would say it can’t be because of the time either. Some people might say 40 hours – or five days a year – is a lot of time. My answer is that you probably waist more time in useless conversations about the Kardashians, Game of Thrones or some other meaningless topic. Let’s look at this in terms of numbers. Five days is less than 2% of the workdays in a year. Now, CPE can be taken in one-hour (or less in some states) increments. All you need to do is watch one hour of CPE one day a week over lunch while you eat a sandwich. How difficult of a time commitment is that to keep? TXCPA even offers the new TXCPA Passport, which includes special savings for members and unlimited access to a catalog of on-demand CPE courses available to watch anytime.

I guess I should be happy that people not wanting to take CPE are no longer part of the profession. With all of the changes happening – new tax law, new SEC and PCAOB rules, new GASB pronouncements, new FASB standards – how can you keep up without taking CPE? And the changes are even bigger than just the new standards and rules. What we do every day is changing radically, due to technology. Artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and blockchain, just to name a few, are technologies that are changing what it means to be a CPA.

We don’t necessarily have to become experts in data analytics or computer programming, but we better know enough to have a conversation with the experts in those areas. Really, such a concept is nothing new. CPAs have been interacting with subject matter experts for years, be it people who really understand tax, M&A accounting or valuation work. I’m certainly not a valuation expert, but I can talk reasonably well with those who are about valuations. I know enough to be dangerous, which means, in terms of the profession, I know enough to bring in the experts when I need them.

While future CPAs may include people with data and technology skills, that doesn’t mean I lose relevance – as long as I keep up. The CPA profession has always been broad enough to include many experts, from tax to financial planning to forensics. Today, I would say public company GAAP knowledge is even a subset expertise in the profession, as well. How do we keep all of this together? It is by taking CPE to expand our areas of knowledge so we can engage our subject matter expert colleagues when needed. CPE is the key to a continuously relevant profession and I, for one, am glad we have recognized that need for many decades.



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