Date posted: 27/11/2023 5 min read

Australia: A little CPD time

January can be quieter in terms of work deadlines, making it a good window to fit in some continuing professional development. Here are some of the options available on demand, and the areas you can brush up on.

Quick take

  • Continuing professional development (CPD) is a mandatory requirement for CA ANZ members and it can deliver a range of benefits.
  • When CPD is executed strategically it can set you up for success in both current and future roles.
  • CA ANZ offers a variety of on-demand digital learning options, as well as access to external CPD providers.

Although it’s essential for maintaining – and building upon – skills and knowledge throughout your career, it’s easy to put off your continuing professional development (CPD), particularly during busy periods.

According to leadership expert and bestselling author Suzi McAlpine, professional development is a bit like exercise: “Most of us know it’s important, but it can be hard to fit in,” she says.

Like exercise, CPD delivers many benefits. It hones your skills, which in turn helps you improve in your role. It can also help you to meet the challenges you face at work, advance your career, and recognise blind spots and areas where you can improve your self-awareness at the same time.

“It can better assist you in identifying and working from your strengths, which has been proven to lead to better performance and higher engagement,” McAlpine adds. “It makes you think and reflect, and get outside your comfort zone – all important for business and professional success.”

Flexible and varied learning

CA ANZ members must complete a set number of verifiable CPD hours each triennium, achieved through activities such as conferences, courses, workshops, technical discussion groups and on-site training.Valerie Swalwell, general manager, CPD at CA ANZ, explains that members also have access to several digital, on-demand options for learning. “These include recorded webinars, self-paced digital courses hosted on our LMS [learning management system], as well as micro courses, which include digital self-paced learning and blended learning options with the addition of expert facilitator-led application workshops.”

These CPD resources cover a broad range of topics, encompassing both the core technical domain subjects that form part of the CA capability model – such as tax, accounting, audit and reporting – and topics within the business, leadership and personal domains.

Nineteen micro courses are currently available in key areas such as data analytics, sustainability, problem solving, trust, professional scepticism and ethics. Varying in length from one to seven hours, they delve into areas spanning data storytelling, climate reporting and conflict of interest in business.

Additional micro courses will be launched in FY24, on topics such as inclusive leadership, communication, innovation, financial modelling and succession planning.

While these courses count as verifiable CPD, any learning that you pursue with the objective of developing and maintaining professional competence can count towards your non-verifiable hours. This might entail technical reading, listening to podcasts, or catching up on the latest issue of Acuity.

Strategic CPD goal setting

When choosing which areas to focus on for your CPD, relevance should be your primary consideration, says Alan Nelson, founder and managing director of CA ANZ learning partner

“You should consider what you need to do to stay current in your specific role, but also what you need to do for your own growth and development,” he says. “Ask yourself: Where am I? What’s coming up in the next 18 months? Where do I want to be in five years’ time?”

For many accountants, Nelson believes that CPD is synonymous with updates alone, which is why they often find it a “drudge”. “But I think that’s a shame,” he says. “It’s not about ticking the boxes and doing the hours, it’s about leveraging CPD to achieve your ambitions.”

Alongside the technical skills and updates essential to accounting roles, Nelson is noticing more enrolments in courses related to so-called ‘soft skills’: financial data presentation, communication, leadership, collaboration and critical thinking.

Unsurprisingly, given the ever-evolving impact of technology on the profession, Nelson has also noticed heightened interest in digitisation and AI, as well as analysis and business interpretation – areas that accountants are diving into to futureproof their careers.

“When considering CPD options, think about the future in terms of where you might want to be, but also what changes might be forced upon you,” he advises.

Honing in on gaps

In addition to mapping out future goals to guide CPD choices, McAlpine believes an ‘outside in’ and ‘inside out’ assessment can be an effective strategy for identifying areas where you want and need to expand your knowledge.

“An ‘outside in’ assessment might be asking yourself: What are the skills and areas I need to develop or get better at, or which I need to be skilled at to meet the challenges and opportunities facing my business or role?” she says. “‘Outside in’ might also comprise garnering feedback from others about where they see your development needs – through feedback, performance reviews or even 360-degree surveys.”

‘Inside out’ involves assessing your strengths (what you’re good at, what you enjoy) and finding ways to develop them, so you can work from your strengths more over time. “It might also be looking at feedback and understanding your non-strengths or weaknesses and choosing one or two that are key to get better at,” McAlpine says.

Swalwell says the CA Capability+ tool is a useful resource for pinpointing skills that require cultivation. “Post assessment completion, Capability+ provides useful reporting, which summarises development areas and provides CPD recommendations for upskilling within the specific capabilities,” she explains.

Cultivating motivation

If you find yourself procrastinating completing your CPD hours, McAlpine recommends building momentum by starting out small and turning ongoing learning into a habit.

“Put aside a small amount of time each week or fortnight in your diary to dedicate to growing your knowledge and skills and for professional development,” she suggests. “This can be more effective than a course once a year for a few days.”

Nelson agrees, urging members not to wait until the end of CPD reporting periods to complete mandatory requirements.

“Plan what you’re going to do,” he says. “If you leave it until the end of the year, you’re going to end up in a scramble, choosing courses without a clear strategy.”

Another way to stay motivated is to highlight a career goal or a role you would like to get promoted into. Identify the gaps you currently have that would mean you would not get the job and use those to establish where to put your professional development attention.

McAlpine says, “There’s nothing like a goal you are personally invested in to help with that motivation.”

CPD requirements

CA ANZ members are required to complete 120 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) each triennium (three-year period). Ninety hours need to be verifiable, and there’s a mandatory ethics component of two hours per triennium.

Non-verifiable CPD can comprise up to 30 hours across the three-year period. discounts

Looking to top up your 2023 CPD? CA ANZ members qualify for discounts at:

Packages include:

1. 10% off Accelerated Accountants Update Programme, 21 hours: A$650 (use discount code CAANZ101)

2. Pick and Mix, 20 hours: A$750, for any five four-hour courses (use code CAANZ20 for a A$200 discount).

Take aways

The CA Library’s many technical and soft-skills resources can also count towards your non-verifiable CPD. Go to:

Did you know that reading Acuity magazine can contribute 10 hours per year towards your non-verifiable CPD?

Make sure you log your time!

CPD offers for members in New Zealand

CA ANZ offers a variety of on-demand digital learning options, as well as access to external CPD providers.

Find out more