As an accounting professional, you have to keep up with your continuing professional development (CPD) requirements. These requirements ensure that you are up to date on the tax code and changing practices in the world of accounting. They also help refresh your approach to business in general, thanks to courses on ethics, technology, and other essentials.
CPD Requirements for Canadian Accountants
Technically, provinces can set their own rules for CPD requirements. For instance, in Ontario, CPAs need to log 120 hours of CPD every three years. However, in recent years all Canadian provinces have aligned their requirements to reflect standards from the International Federation of Accountants, and as a result, 120 hours every three years is now the general standard throughout the country.
That may not sound like much, but it’s the equivalent of a week of classes every year. When you’re juggling your career plus everything else in your life, that can be hard to fit in. Luckily, technology can make it easier.
Online CPD Opportunities
You may want to look into using podcasts to fulfill CPD requirements. There are CPD podcasts on everything from ethics to technology, and you can easily listen to them while driving, jogging, or cleaning your house. Generally, when you finish listening, you have to pass a short test, and then you earn your credit hours.
Online CPD courses are another option, and they let you work at your own pace. That’s great if you need to fit your class time around a busy schedule. Such courses offer general information such as overviews of current Canadian tax law, but they also include very specific topics such as strategy mapping, cross-border transactions, and transfer pricing.
For a more interactive experience, you may want to check out virtual classroom courses. These are not on-demand courses where you work at your own pace. Rather, you get online at a specific time along with an instructor and other students. Virtual classrooms offer benefits such as the ability to ask questions and share concerns with the instructor or fellow students. The courses offered cover topics such as analytical decision making and protecting your organization from cyber threats.
Pros and Cons of Online CPD Opportunities
Online CPD opportunities offer financial advantages in addition to the convenience of being easier to work into your schedule. You don’t have to worry about transportation costs or paying for hotel rooms in other cities. That said, if you just take online courses, you may miss out on valuable networking opportunities. When a real life class ends, you’re in the same room with a bunch of other accountants, and you can introduce yourself and hand out business cards. That can become a valuable way to get new business. For instance, if you specialize in corporate accounting but one of your classmates focuses on tax prep for individuals, you can share leads or referrals. With a virtual class, making those connections can be harder, and you need to put in a bit more effort in terms of networking. You may want to set up a group page on Facebook where you can share class notes and start to network, or you may try asking some fellow online students for their personal email addresses or Twitter usernames.
Finding Online CPD Courses
To find online opportunities to fulfill your CPD requirements, you may want to check out CPA Canada. Private companies such as CPDOnline.CA also offer online learning opportunities for professionals in many different industries.
As a professional accountant, you need to keep up to date with new trends and technology. Doing so helps reassure your clients that you are competent, and it’s also legally required. Consider trying out a mix of online courses or podcasts combined with attending some in-person classes. A balanced approach lets you have the best of both worlds.