AICPA Urges New Professional Development for CPAs

CPAs need to embrace new ways of learning to thrive in a competitive, rapidly evolving global marketplace, according to the findings of an American Institute of CPAs task force. To help chart that path, the working group has issued an innovative report designed to spark a reinvention of career development within the CPA profession.

The AICPA Task Force on the Future of Learning, which delivered its recommendations today at the AICPA’s Spring Council, spent the past year discussing major trends in education, reviewing promising innovations, and determining which changes might best apply to CPA professional development. A website that explores some of these items – such as just-in-time learning, gamification (the use of online game mechanics to build skills) and nano-learning (bite-size modules of 15 minutes or less) – will launch this summer.

“When it comes to life-long learning, one size does not fit all anymore,” said Lawson Carmichael, the AICPA’s senior vice president of strategy, people, and innovation and co-chair of the task force. “As the profession evolves, CPAs must develop new skills and employ new learning methods. We need to leverage technology, embrace new approaches and think creatively to accommodate these changes.”

The task force is composed of a broad group of public accounting firm leaders, industry CPAs, regulators, association leaders and educators. In making the case for change, the panel examined the impact of globalization, the rise of specialization within the profession, the shifting dynamics of the workplace and the differing expectations that millennial generation CPAs bring to their careers and learning.

The task force’s main recommendations are:

  • Innovate and Experiment. Leverage technology to enhance learning experiences. Implement small changes for a huge impact.
  • Ignite a Passion for Learning. Start with the learner’s needs. Make learning engaging and relevant.
  • Make Learning Personal. Filter content and focus resources that address individuals’ knowledge and competency needs. Deliver any topic, anywhere, any way.
  • Measure What Matters. Rethink compliance to measure learning competency, development or performance. Create and leverage a unified, global competency framework. Develop one uniform, global compliance standard.

The task force report is designed as a starting point to foster learning innovation and experimentation in the profession. The AICPA plans to organize idea exchange groups and other collaborations around this topic in the weeks ahead. 

“The AICPA is taking the lead on this vital initiative and is committed to evolving our learning products to reflect new learning techniques” said Anthony Pugliese, CPA, CGMA, CITP, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the AICPA and the task force’s other co-chair. “This effort has to be a collective undertaking for the entire profession, however. It’s time for us to join together to create the future of learning.” 

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