Keeping employees motivated and engaged is a challenge for any employer, no
matter the size of the company. In a time when suitably qualified staff are at a
premium, the challenge is that much harder. Coupled with the difficulties of
recruitment, retaining talent and ensuring that they continue to be developed
has to be the priority of any responsible employer.
The UK accountancy institutes have rolled out their continuing professional
development programmes. Building on the traditional requirement for chartered
accountants working in practice to keep up to date with the latest technical
developments, CPD has become mandatory for all accountancy institute members, no
matter where they work. Traditionally, we were quite prescriptive in telling
members what types of activities and how much learning they needed to do to keep
appropriately up to date. Our approach now is to focus on the individual as an
individual and what they need to develop in the career path they have chosen.
It’s all about the individual taking responsibility for his or her own
professional development through a CPD programme that is relevant, appropriate
and proportionate to their current role and career aspirations.
This approach does present an opportunity for employers to support their
employees and invest in the development of their own staff. Whether it is a
business or accountancy practice, the vast majority of employers do have their
own staff development programmes in place. The reality is that most of these
will count substantially, perhaps completely, towards an individual’s annual CPD
For those companies that don’t have formal programmes in place, there are two
questions that they need to address.
Firstly, what sort of framework is required to deliver CPD and, secondly,
what will the training look like. Will it require investment in expensive
teachers and courses, or are there other routes that can be taken?
Chartered accountants, especially those in business, are looking for direct
support from their employers in meeting their requirements. Many employers are
responding directly by developing or adapting programmes and policies
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As an employer, whatever point you’re starting from, our advice is that you
consider a CPD programme from two perspectives.
Firstly, ensure it covers an appropriate breadth of professional development
– historically the focus has always been on developing technical skills.
While a CPD programme should still cover an appropriate breadth of technical
and functional expertise, it should also encompass other areas of professional
development – professional judgement and ethics, business awareness and personal
Secondly, don’t restrict the options to a narrow range of development
activities – employees should be encouraged to consider a wide range of
development activities to meet their CPD requirements.
Again, historically the focus tended to be on classroom based learning but
there is now a broader and more flexible range of learning techniques available
that are often more effective. For example, these may include e-learning,
focused discussions, technical reading, coaching and mentoring .
Help is on hand to ensure any employer’s professional development system
supports the chartered accountants that you employ and to identify changes or
improvements that can be made.
This is why we introduced an employer CPD accreditation scheme. Not only does
this scheme give greater confidence to employees when completing their CPD
declarations – it gives them the ability to make their declarations based on
their employers’ own internal systems.
The ICAEW will be taking a risk-based approach to CPD monitoring and working
for an accredited employer will be taken into consideration when deciding which
members’ CPD evidence to review. If you are selected for a CPD review and you
work for an accredited employer, you may use internal development and appraisal
documentation as evidence of CPD compliance.
What is reassuring is that employers are clearly taking CPD very seriously
and we will do all we can to provide assistance in supporting our members in
introducing learning and development programmes where they don’t exist at the
moment. For the institute, it is above all about inspiring confidence in the
professionalism of our members.
FOUR STEPS TO SUCCESS
To help develop a programme within an organisation, we have developed a four
stage process that we encourage individuals to follow. This encompasses the
• Reflect – individuals should take some time out to look at their current
skills, knowledge and experience in the context of their responsibilities. From
this they should identify their needs in terms of personal, professional and
• Act – the practical part in terms of undertaking appropriate development
activities. There still appears to be a common misconception that CPD is just
about attending courses and conferences or undertaking other types of more
formal learning. This isn’t necessarily the case. CPD can include any learning
and development activities that enable employees to remain competent in their
current roles while preparing for the next challenges.
• Impact – consider the effectiveness of your development and how you’re
putting what you have learned into practice.
• Declare – the final part is the annual CPD declaration, i.e. confirming
what you’ve done. The window in which members need to make their declaration is
from November to January each year, with the next one due from November this
Dr Raymond Madden is executive director of learning and professional
development at ICAEW
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