Sunday, September 7, 2014


CPAs are true knowledge workers, so it is no surprise that CPA CPE is required. In the accounting profession, there is so much to know, and much of it depends on the specialty, goals, and aspirations of the individual CPA. For planning purposes, there are three categories of skills for CPA CPE: 1. 'technical skills' in one's specialty, 2. 'hard skills' in adjacent or objective business domains, and 3. 'soft skills' to support the people side of being a CPA. Here's some detail on each.

Technical Skills for CPA CPE
By technical skills, I am talking about the areas related to the CPA's specialty. Some of these skills are broad in nature within the accounting field, such as accounting for capital budgeting, or budgeting in general. But more often than not, they involve expertise in accounting rules, usually involving changing legislation as well as best practices, in certain specialties. For example, one CPA may want to deepen and maintain up-to-date knowledge about estate taxation. Another may need to keep abreast of accounting rules and unique business structures in, for example, the oil industry. Still another may be intensely involved with international business and need in depth knowledge about accounting for cross-border transactions.

CPA CPE for Objective Hard Skills
Separate and distinct from the technical skills are hard skills in areas like software, such as MS Office, accounting software, or even enterprise management software. Other hard skills include business skills such as project management, portfolio management, business analysis, Six Sigma, and much more. These skills are not core to accounting itself, but can make a CPA more effective and potentially enable and support new business objectives.

CPA CPE for Soft Skills
Soft skills are critically important, and working with clients, within a large or small business, or in the public domain demands top soft skills. Indeed, it is well-documented that a large - maybe even vast majority - proportion of success is determined by soft skills. These skills include leadership, communications, team building, and even related areas such as public speaking and writing.

Personalizing an Approach to earning CPA CPE
A CPA has about 40 hours to work with each year for continuing education. Ideally, this will be accomplished by some sort of combination of technical CPE to support the specialty, hard skill CPE to support broadening of skills into objective areas, and soft skills to support accomplishment of ALL goals. The good news is that there is plenty of training out there to achieve all of these objectives and earn CPE at the same time.

One More Thing
The 'multiple sources' strategy is something that brings great advantages to those that use it. A 'multiple sources' strategy refers to the idea of learning a subject form multiple angles - which can be achieved by studying the material from multiple sources. As each of these sources will usually approach the subject from a different angle, enabling the learner to deepen understanding of the subject. While many materials - including the online training that we provide - incorporate this type of learning by portraying different angles, it is up to the individual to decide how they will approach this.

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