Mentorship is a mandatory part of the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) practical experience requirements. Future CPAs must work with an approved CPA mentor before they can begin their qualifying term, the period of practical experience required before they are licensed to practice. Once you become an experienced CPA, you may want to then become a mentor to help new people entering the profession.
Mentors help their student “mentees” get a hands-on sense of what it’s like to work as a CPA. As part of that process, they help their charges improve their competency with accounting tasks, and also guide them in learning and understanding the ethics and values that are important in the financial industry.
Benefits of Mentoring and Being Mentored
Mentoring offers key benefits to the mentee such as helping them refine their skills and learn about the industry. It also offers good opportunities for networking with other financial professionals.
The relationship also offers benefits for mentors. As a mentor, you get the satisfaction of giving back to your industry. You can also enhance your own professional growth. Working with younger people or newbies to the industry can be a great way to broaden your horizons and gain new perspectives. A novice may have some innovative ideas on topics ranging from marketing to client relationships. Being a mentor can also help you to hone your leadership skills, reinforce your accounting knowledge, and increase your confidence. It’s also a nice plus to have on your resume.
Getting Involved as a Mentor
Prospective CPAs can ask their educational programs to match them with mentors or they can seek out their own mentors. If you’re interested in getting involved as a mentor, you should contact professional programs in your area and ask to be put on the mentor list. Also, set up a profile on the CPA Mentor Match portal. Make sure to include a lot of details in your bio and profile. That makes it easier for students to see if you’re a good match for them.
Alternatively, if you know accounting professors or others who work with accounting students, let them know that you might be interested in becoming a mentor. Tell them to feel free to share your email or social media handle with prospective candidates. If one of these students chooses you, you just have to complete a training webinar and register the mentorship with the relevant CPA organization in your province or region.
If you like, you can set up a mentoring program in your own accounting firm. Through this type of program, you mentor CPAs your firm has already hired or plan to hire. This type of program helps to ensure that you have qualified people waiting in the wings to work for your company. If you introduce mentees to your clients as they are developing, that helps build client confidence in your new employees.
If you are a mentor, you need to document any conversations you have with your mentee. You also need to make notes on any concerns you have about your mentee’s competence levels with certain tasks. You share this information over the Practical Experience Reporting Tool (PERT). Typically, you get sign-in details when you become a mentor.
If you’re ready to learn more, you can check out CPA Canada’s mentoring webinar. As an added bonus, the webinar gives you an hour of educational credits so even if you decide against mentoring, the experience is still a benefit for you.