Date posted: 31/07/2020 5 min read

Pandemic yields a silver lining for CA education

CA ANZ members’ enthusiastic sign-up to virtual conferences has fast-tracked ambitions for more online education delivery.

In Brief

  • CA ANZ’s Education and Learning team is planning for more online delivery of professional development content.
  • The aim is to make education more accessible and adaptable.
  • ‘Hybrid’ face-to-face and virtual conferences are also on CA ANZ’s agenda.

By Meredith Booth

While universities have suffered funding cuts and a huge loss in international student fees as a result of COVID-19, many classes have continued to be taught online. This move to online learning – and a hunger among people to upskill or reskill while in isolation – is a trend being seen across education institutions.

An uptick in interest for online learning among members during lockdown has spurred CA ANZ’s Education and Learning team to hasten its plans for more online delivery of professional development content.

In May, before COVID-19 restrictions forced events online, about 1400 CA ANZ members had registered for the face-to-face CA ANZ Accounting and Audit Conferences. The move online boosted participation numbers to more than 1900.

Likewise, the NZ Women in Business conference in June created huge interest across the Tasman. When it moved to an online event, the number of registrations tripled, according to CA ANZ Continuing Professional Development general manager Valerie Swalwell.

One delegate spoke for many when they said:

“I work in a small, regional firm and the cost of registration, along with travel time and expense, means I do not attend CA ANZ conferences as much as I would like. So more online opportunities in the future please!”

While the cost to run an online event is substantially less than for a face-to-face function (the NZ conference came in at about a quarter of the cost), one thing that is lost is the opportunity to meet other members. Swalwell says CAs are missing that element.

“The member feedback has been, ‘Let's keep doing online but we also miss the networking’,” she says.

“Next year, we’re planning conferences as a hybrid model where we’ll run face-to-face conferences in key locations, however complement [them] with a virtual conference with different dates and the same presenters.”

CA ANZ is also planning to have face-to-face dinner functions in several locations as part of the virtual conference offering, as a way to provide members with networking opportunities.

Capabilities for the future

Another positive to come out of the pandemic is that the lockdown has essentially sped up the development of new online formats for CPD.

“What COVID-19 has done is allow us to accelerate the execution of where we were headed,” says CA ANZ Education and Learning group executive Simon Hann.

One exciting development is the new CA ANZ Capability self-assessment tool, to launch later this year, which has been designed to inform members’ careers. The tool will recommend professional development courses to assist members and their organisations to stay relevant, succeed and prosper.

In addition, analytics and technology can be used to make CA ANZ’s education offerings more responsive and adaptable to the demands of its users; for example, offering an auditing course close to auditing or tax time.

Evolving teaching for an online audience

Amanda White CA, a senior lecturer in assurance and auditing services at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), says she has evolved her teaching style to suit an online audience.

“We’re trying to figure out what’s better and what makes sense in a social distancing future,” says White, who has more than 34,000 subscribers to her AmandaLovesToAudit YouTube channel.

“We’re trying to figure out what’s better and what makes sense in a social distancing future.”
Amanda White CA

She believes students’ lives today are much more complicated than 10 to 20 years ago. “So what can we learn from COVID-19 to make education accessible and adaptable? What we’re finding is students are learning ‘on demand’ or ‘just in time’, which are concepts common to accountants.”

CAs looking for professional development courses have similar demands, she adds.

Strong uptake of online offerings

The appeal of online delivery is obvious. For example, the CA ANZ Accounting Conference had a 50% lift in registrations when it converted to an online event. Exams for CA program candidates were also moved online.

To support members to thrive in this new working environment, the CA ANZ Education and Learning team brought together a complimentary CPD wellbeing package. These wellbeing offerings included yoga and meditation classes, a guide on working remotely, Zoom tips and other practical measures to improve members’ working lives.

COVID-19 has wrought big changes in the world of work and there will be more shifts to come. As we adjust to this new normal, the value of online learning, delivered flexibly and fast, will only grow. 

Top 10 CA ANZ lockdown favourites

These were the most attended courses during the recent COVID-19 lockdowns in New Zealand and Australia.

Public speaking and how to speak on Zoom (CPD – up to 1hr)

Wellbeing during COVID-19 (CPD – up to 1hr)

Problem solving and decision making – creatively (CPD – up to 1hr)

5 ways to minimise the impacts of COVID-19 (CPD – up to 0.5hrs)

Speaking and presenting (CPD – up to 1hr)

Managing conflict and confrontation (CPD – up to 1hr)

Future Ready: Accountancy careers in the 2020s (CPD – up to 1hr)

Growing your emotional superpower (CPD – up to 1hr)

Some of the CA ANZ courses currently on offer

Browse these and more at

Cyber Security: The Role of Finance Leaders (CPD – up to 4hrs)

You will learn what we mean by cyber risk, the nature and likelihood of cyber threats and attacks, how an attack can impact an organisation, and good practices on prevention and response.

Machine Learning: An Introduction for Finance Professionals (CPD – up to 7hrs)

An introductory course on machine learning from the perspective of users. The course examines what machine learning is, how it can be applied, the ethical considerations and the implications for future skills.

Find out more:

To find out more about the current online courses, ensure your communication preferences are up to date to opt into our education and CPD emails, or go to