Insider Business Club: carrot now or stick later

How is CPD bedding now? Is it seen as a fact of life or is there
resistance out there?

Stephen Heathcote, director of training & development,

We introduced our compulsory continuing professional development scheme last
year, and it’s been bedding down very well. We’ve seen a big increase in member
engagement over the last 18 months or so, and there’s actually been an increase
in people attending our CPD events by about 40% globally.

Around 80,000 of our members have now attended events. There are about
100,000 members using our CPD resources on the website. So, it’s been very
positive in the sense that members seem to be re-engaging with us as a
professional body, and that’s very important for professionalism and
distinguishing accountants and qualified accountants in the marketplace.

I think we’re having some issues and it’s more about communication and
misunderstanding. We have had questions around whether we are trying to force
people onto courses and whether we are trying to make money out of CPD. And the
answer to those questions is definitely ‘no’.

We’ve just gone through one year of CPD, so at the moment we are going
through the process of monitoring and going back and having a look at what
members are doing. But the first obligation was actually to submit a return to
say that people have met the requirements, they feel they’re confident and that
they’re up to date and effective.

The returns rates are exceptionally high – well into the 90% range. So the
first indications are that members are complying and we probably need to help
support members more by giving them more opportunities, giving them reassurance
that what they are doing is valid. We are not really seeing evidence that
members are struggling with understanding the requirements.

How can an accountant get the most out of CPD?

Judy Randle, CPD national product manager, FTC

CPD isn’t just for people’s current role. It’s about where they see
themselves going in the future and looking at where they would like to develop
and what sort of roles and what sort of skills they’ll need to be able to fulfil
those aims

We see delegates on our courses saying ‘Well, I’ve attended this course not
because I need it at the moment, but because I want to move into a particular
area, and therefore this is really important to me’.

Are there enough courses around that are suitable? I think there are. What I
would suggest an accountant does before he or she attends a course is to find
out a bit more about it. I’m sure any of the training providers would be happy
to list the contents in more detail and explain exactly what sort of things are
going to be covered and how much depth it would go into and so on.

As far as courses perhaps not being relevant, one possibility is to organise
an in-house course where the course can be tailored absolutely to the
requirements of that particular organisation. If there is a number of people
within an organisation wanting to attend a similar course, then an in-house
course can be more specific, the discussions more frank, and it can hit the
button in terms of exactly the content that an accountant wants it to cover.

With CPD courses, you can’t have a teacher at the front of the class. You’ve
got to interact. It’s got to be a discussion and the course will go in the
direction that the delegates want it to. You’re not sitting an exam at the end
of it necessarily, so it can be much more free-flowing than traditional lectures
they attended when it was legislated professional exams.

Are employers happy with the increased obligations being placed on their

Nigel Race, CPD manager, CIMA

When we did our original consultation with members to find out their views on
our proposed CPD scheme, at the same time we did one with employers and they
were extremely positive. They said if you can introduce this then we will be
very supportive.

They were sceptical that we could actually introduce a scheme of that
particular type, which was outcomes based and so on – but we’ve done it and the
take up and interest from them in terms of our employer representation scheme,
for example, has been very high.

So, that’s been very positive because, again, it’s designed to fit with the
individual and the employer so that all groups win in a sense.

If you look at our training scheme at a student qualifications level, we have
a few thousand employers engaged with that, whereas it’s far fewer for the
version for members now.

But it’s very early days for us, and we have to be realistic about that. We
can’t bring everyone in, within a year. It’s about long-term gain.

My expectation from speaking to members is that as long as we can communicate
and get the message out clearly, there won’t be resistance. I think there was
resistance going back a couple of years when it first became a news issue.

We ask people to identify certain aspects of their learning development, so
what their role is, what their needs are, how they are approaching that, and
what the benefits and outcomes of doing the development are. That’s key.

So how they actually demonstrate that is up to them really. There are
different ways they could do it.

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