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Guide to Continued Professional Development Requirements for CPAs and Accountants

As an accountant, you’re required to commit to Continual Professional Development (CPD) or Continued Professional Education (CPE). It’s an essential part of growing as a professional, allowing you to stay updated with the latest industry regulations and best practices. Without making a commitment to your CPD, you’ll likely struggle to maintain your practicing accounting certificate. 

In this article you will learn:

What is Continuing Professional Development for accountants?

Continuing Professional Development is learning that CPAs and accountants must undertake and record with the objective of:

  • maintaining professional competence in performing their roles and responsibilities,
  • maintaining their practicing certificates and membership with industry associations,
  • safeguarding the integrity of the accounting profession, and
  • protecting public interest.

The International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB), issued by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) develops education standards on continuing professional education and development to uphold these objectives. Therefore, CPA associations that are member bodies of IFAC have an obligation to ensure accounting professionals in their country are engaging in life-long learning by completing CPD.

The CPD Framework for accountants

The International Education Standard (IES) 7 on Continuing Professional Development was revised in 2018 [1]  to include a CPD Framework which provides accountants with an example structure and guidance to identify, undertake and record CPD activities. The CPD Framework for accountants outlines 4 key areas of CPD:

  1. Performing self-assessment activities to identify relevant learning outcomes and personal development gaps,
  2. Planning for, completing and recording learning and development activities,
  3. Evaluating and undertaking reflective activity on completed learning and development activities, and
  4. Revising the learning and development plan.[2]

Learn more about the highlights and implications of the revised International Education Standard 7.

What CPD activities can accountants do?

Accountants can record the following types of activities as CPD in accordance with IES 7:

  • Self-assessment activities: reflecting on practical experiences and developing personal development plans
  • Educational programs or training events: in-person learning courses, e-learning courses, conferences, seminars, webinars
  • In-house learning: receiving on the job-training, performance feedback, or professional development guidance from a mentor or coach
  • Industry Publications: writing articles, papers, or books of a technical, professional or academic nature
  • Researching subject matter: reading professional literature and journals, for application in your role as an accountant
  • Study: professional exams, re-examination, or other formal testing
  • Teaching: designing, developing, reviewing, or teaching in person learning courses, e-learning courses, conferences, seminars or other educational programs and training events. [3]

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Tracking & recording CPD hours 

Most accounting associations follow the input based approach to measuring CPD which requires accountants to record and complete a set number of learning hours (often referred to as credits) or equivalent learning units within a rolling period of time or to complete a specified amount of CPD activity in each year.[4] 

For example, an accounting association may set a requirement of at least 120 hours of CPD in a rolling three year period, with a minimum of 20 hours of CPD activity in each year. 

Following the CPD Framework and implementing a structured approach to CPD recording involves meticulous planning and documentation. At QuickBooks, we’ve developed a guide to track and record CPD hours to help accountants meet their professional development requirements and maintain their accounting certifications. 

1. Understand CPD requirements

In order to record your CPD, you should know the requirements you need to meet according to your accounting body, the country you operate in, or the regulations set by your accounting firm. Check the CPD hour requirements set by your industry association to ensure you stay on top of your activities.

2. Self-assessment

Perform a self-assessment of your current skills to identify personal development gaps and opportunities for CPD activities.

3. Create a CPD plan

Develop a CPD plan to outline your goals and objectives. Determine the CPD activities you need to participate in to fulfil your requirements. You may want to attend seminars, workshops, self-study, or a CPD course for accountants.

4. Use a CPD diary to document your CPD activities

Use a CPD diary to track and record your CPD hours and activities. Typically, accountants use a CPD diary, tracker or spreadsheets to log their CPD activities. Whenever you actively work on CPD tasks and learning, document the details. You should include the date, activity name, description, location, and the time spent studying. Regularly update your CPD diary to record the CPD hours or credits you've earned.

5. Save activity completion documents

Safely store all documentation such as certificates of completion, receipts and any other supporting documents that serve as evidence of your completed CPD activities. These documents may be required for audits or certification renewals.

6. Review progress

Periodically review and reflect on your CPD progress to ensure you're on track to meet your goals. This can help you identify any gaps and adjust your CPD plan as needed. Depending on your regulatory body, you’ll have a set amount of hours to complete to meet your requirements. 

7. Stay informed

Stay informed about changes in CPD requirements, regulations, and guidelines by keeping updated with your regulatory body. Update your CPD plan to align with evolving industry standards and your personal career objectives.

8. Audit preparation

Be prepared for potential CPD audits. Some accounting bodies may randomly select members for audits to ensure compliance. Having well-organized records and documentation will help you navigate the audit process smoothly and avoid any delays or issues. As a CPA or accountant it is recommended to keep a record of your CPD hours for three years in case of an audit.

Benefits of CPD for accountants

  • Staying up to date with evolving laws and regulations in the accounting industry ensures accountants adapt their practices and services to remain compliant.
  • Improving your accounting skills and knowledge to give your clients the highest-quality service possible. This will allow you to grow your client pool and develop professionally to advance your career.
  • Attending in-person events allows you to grow your professional network and interact with potential employers.
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How to accrue CPD hours with QuickBooks

QuickBooks hosts many free events for accountants that can help you acquire CPD hours. Register for a free accounting event or webinar today and learn more about accounting topics from industry experts and add the activity to your CPD tracker.

QuickBooks Online Accountant is a free accounting software for accountants that offers free self-paced training programs within the platform that you can complete anytime, anywhere. Sign up to QuickBooks Online Accountant for free today and learn why over 600,000 accountants worldwide choose QuickBooks.

  1. International Accounting Education Standards Board, “Continuing Professional Development (Revised) | IAESB”,  
  2. International Accounting Education Standards Board, IES 7 A10, 
  3. International Accounting Education Standards Board, IES 7 A18, 
  4. International Accounting Education Standards Board, IES 7 A24-A25,


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