Filling the skills gap

Why are the accountancy bodies now requiring their members to prove
their knowledge through mandatory CPD? Surely it has always been in the
accountant’s own business and career interest to keep up to date?

Si Hussain: It has been in the individual’s interest to stay
professionally up to date but the reality is that we have seen huge changes in
the regulatory environment over the past couple of years and an increasing pace
of change in areas such as IFRS. Also there is increased scrutiny of the
profession itself, which has encouraged and forced the member bodies to mandate
CPD. This hasn’t just appeared out of thin air.

The International Federation of Accountants, which the major UK bodies are
members of, considers that there should be a mandate in place for education
critical to the competence of accountants, which is carried out on an ongoing

The analogy one would draw is perhaps doctors. You don’t get doctors to stop
undertaking continuing professional education the day they qualify. This should
be no different for accountants. Its been so for lawyers, too, for over a

Are finance directors having to go back to school?

Tony Osude: We certainly haven’t seen a mad rush of finance
directors going back into the classroom from a training perspective. What we
have seen is a far more considered approach from FDs, through to accountants
working in industry, practice and the public sector.

Is CPD all about formal training or are there other options?

Tony Osude: No, for an FD, for example, it would probably
involve getting briefings from auditors or from the consultants. It could be
coaching and mentoring. It could be setting up a talent management or succession
programme. Whatever is new that actually develops the skills, knowledge and need
for a particular role is relevant and, if you like, counts.

What areas should an accountant look to address through CPD

Si Hussain: The answer to that depends on a particular
individual’s role and responsibilities. The CPD is not about a text book of say,
if I am CIMA or ACCA qualified I must do X, Y and Z. It is about looking at
one’s current role, responsibilities and saying what skills do I need to carry
out my activities efficiently and effectively.

Tony Osude: Don’t forget there will be many, many
accountants who work in non-financial roles and for them you’ll probably find
that there is very little needed by way of CPD finance content. It might be
strategic, it might be around IT, it might be around other aspects of
consultancy. So I think we need to understand that it is not just the technical,
it’s actually the wider picture.

Is it all about your current role or can CPD training address the
needs of your next position?

Tony Osude: I think career development is key, particularly
given the young age profile of our members. We want to support their development
as they enter the upper echelons of the profession and particular organisations.
QIs there a variety of courses out there, particularly in terms of cost?

Si hussain: Certainly from our perspective we try to offer
schemes whereby there are membership discounts, especially for the smaller
firms, to make CPD more accessible. In addition to that, it can prove beneficial
to bring the training in house as opposed to sending a number of separate
individuals on separate courses.

How can accountants identify their skills gap?

Tony Osude: There’s a very simple process that I would
follow in three or four stages. One, what’s expected of me and what knowledge do
I need for my particular role? Two, where do I need to update or get that
knowledge from? Three, get the knowledge. Four, measure the effectiveness and
the impact of it.

Is the accountancy qualification moving away from being a passport to
becoming a driving licence with an annual test?

Si Hussain: It’s still a passport. I don’t see CPD or the
qualification as becoming a driving licence that one needs to renew every year.
I think it’s more like an MOT of the car itself to make sure that everything’s
operating satisfactorily.


Tony Osude is head of business partnerships – employers and
professional bodies at ACCA

Si Hussain is chief executive of BPP Professional

Chaired by Damian Wild, group editor in chief  of
Accountancy Age and Financial Director

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