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The Significance of CPEs – Your guide to finding and tracking CPE

There’s nothing more exciting than finally achieving that goal. You know the one. You’ve spent years training for it. Imagine the quarterback leading his team to victory in the Superbowl, or a tennis player finally winning Wimbledon, or a golfer taking the top spot at the Masters. 

Well, that’s exactly how my buddy John felt after passing the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) examination. He spent years in school getting an undergraduate degree and then a master’s degree. He also spent a significant amount of time taking CPA Review courses. Because it is a grueling exam, it took him several attempts to finally pass. 

This achievement is something to celebrate, but passing is only the beginning of a life long commitment. Most professional certifications require some sort of ongoing maintenance. That maintenance is typically known as Continuing Professional Education (CPE). I believe CPEs help enhance and maintain your mental strength. Maintaining your mental strength has a lot of benefits. 

The Benefits of Self Development

CPE’S help you focus and stay fresh in your field. 

The world is changing rapidly around us. The skills necessary yesterday aren’t the same skills that we need today, and they definitely are not the skills that we’ll need in the future. I graduated with a degree in accounting in, well…we won’t say the year, but let’s just say a while ago.

Who would have thought years later I would be doing things like data analysis, information technology security assessments, social media management audits, designing dashboards for management teams, learning SQL, designing and managing some kick butt websites with courses and clothing and more. Not what you’d expect from a CPA. 

But as an internal auditor, I saw my profession change rapidly around me and I needed to adjust or risk becoming obsolete. Taking CPE courses helped me gain the knowledge necessary to compete in today’s workforce. In other words, they helped me become a better professional, and dare I say, maybe even a better person. 

CPEs help you focus and stay fresh in your field.

CPE’s demonstrate proficiency.

I’ve been a public speaker and trainer for several years. Having presented at numerous conferences throughout the country and internationally, I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at it. Based on the ratings I’ve received, people tend to agree.

But I’ve also been making a shift to online learning. Developing content, for on demand courses for an audience constrained by time, travel and budget restrictions. I was talking to one client recently who inquired about developing on demand training specifically for their internal audit department. Of course, this is something I’m interested in. 

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But how do you prove proficiency in something that requires a skill set that is outside of the norm for what you currently do? 

You see, delivering training online is totally different from in person. There are certified instructional designers who can attest to that. So over the years, I began honing my skill set for the different delivery methods. Then I discovered that LinkedIn has a fabulous Learning Library. I began taking courses on video editing and instructional design. The course completion status and those certificates are now visible on my profile 🙂

But also, if you look at my past training videos, the content was great, but the editing was just okay. I’ve rewritten several based on the new training.

I’ve also been doing information technology auditing for years. But as a CPA, how do you prove proficiency in technology to those who don’t know you. One great way is through CPE courses. I recently completed the course Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) on LinkedIn. The completion status is visible on my profile for all too see.

CPEs help demonstrate proficiency in an area.

CPEs provide a sense of achievement

I spent over 20 years of my adult life living in Florida. Many of my friends were multilingual. Spanish was the dominant second language and for years I wanted to learn to speak it. Several years ago, I took a few courses. I must admit it was hard, not necessarily because of the language itself, but because the traditional classroom environment is not conducive to the way I learn. 

I came out of the course with the ability to read it fairly well but not able to speak or hold good conversations. In the end, we had to take a test designed to assess our basic knowledge of written Spanish. I did okay on this exam and received a certificate to show for it. This made me feel extremely proud of the accomplishment. 

Finding and Safeguarding CPEs

Most certifying bodies require a certain number of CPE hours per year. This requirement is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of self development. But there are a few problems with CPEs.

  • They can be fairly expensive
  • Scheduling can be a pain 
  • Tracking can be tactical nightmare 

Tackling the expense issue.

Some of us can knock out a bunch of CPEs at one time by attending a one week conference. With hotel, airfare and registration, these events are fairly expensive. Oftentimes your company will pay for you to attend these events. 

But when the economy contracts (or you face a global pandemic), you may not be able to attend that one week conference in Las Vegas. Free CPEs are great, but they may not be on the subject you seek.

For a few dollars per credit hour, you can find CPEs ranging in costs from about $30 to $150 per hour. Depending on the subject matter of course. The more technical the subject, the more it will cost. But using a combination of free and paid CPEs, you should be able to obtain quality continuing professional education. I’ll share some of my favorite reasonable cost quality providers at the end.

The scheduling concern.

Over the last decade, the big internet boom has done a lot to solve this issue. Nowadays, you can find various CPE providers offering on demand training on almost any subject. 

You can browse on your desktop, laptop or mobile device. There are numerous podcasts covering various topics. Access to quality CPEs is becoming easier. Some organizations are now accepting credits for small chunks of time. For example, NASBA now accepts CPEs in increments of 10 minutes. They call them nano CPEs. 

The tracking nightmare

Tracking all those credits can be a task, especially for those of us who have multiple certifications. The different certifying bodies have different due dates and different requirements.

Here’s what happened to my buddy John from earlier. After passing the CPA exam, life got really good. He began moving up in his company. He was attending those one week conferences and getting all of his CPE hours. 

Back then, everything was on paper, and he had everything stored in his garage. After a few years, he received a promotion. That promotion meant more money, more money meant a bigger house. John moved from one location to another, and somehow his CPE records were lost. While upset, losing his records really wasn’t a big deal unless he was audited. And as luck would have it, (bad luck that is) guess who was audited by his State Board of Public accountancy.

John lost his CPA license because he could not prove that he maintained sufficient credit hours. He had to appear before the board. After begging and pleading, they returned his license. But he had to perform triple the amount of hours the next year. 

Even though now we have the ability to keep our records electronically, I find that most of us still do a terrible job at it. Three years ago, my State Board of Accountancy audited me.

I have all of my records stored nicely in the cloud, and I maintain a log in Google Sheets (i.e. Excel). But the audit was still a pain. Thankfully my 10 year log and cloud storage helped demonstrate compliance with the requirements.

CPE Resources

Tracking CPEs

To tackle the tracking nightmare, I want to share my spreadsheet with you. It tracks multiple certifications, expenses, categories and produces a visually appealing dashboard. The first 50 people to sign up to receive updates from us will get it for free (see below). After that, it’s just $9.99. It’s in Google Sheets with the excel version coming soon. Take a look.

Quality CPE providers

I have a few favorite on demand CPE providers. 

The first is CRisk. Jason Mefford provides a platform with the most diverse risk, audit, compliance and business training I’ve ever seen. Take a look. You will soon see some courses from yours truly 🙂
During the month of April, you’ll get 50% off using coupon code: APRIL2020-50.
Click this link. It’ll let them know I sent you.

The second is, uh well, me. I have quite a few on demand courses with more coming soon.
Take a look at my small but growing catalogue.

Fabulous CPE freebies

Now let’s take a look at the free CPE sources. They aren’t totally free. Be prepared to give up your contanct information. Here are some of my favorites.

CRisk Academy
Yes, they were listed in the paid section. But there are free monthly webinars on some really good subjects. 

That Audit Guy
Okay, okay. Yes. This is another shameless plug for me.
I have free Nano CPE courses.
I torture you with a  10 minute video.
In the end, you receive a CPE certificate.

CPE Think

Deloitte

Crowe

EY

Grant Thorton

PWC

Do you have some favorite sources for quality CPEs?

Let me know!


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Robert Berry (96)

Robert (That Audit Guy) Berry is a risk, compliance and auditing advocate, educator and innovator. He helps good professionals become better by creating articles, web services and training that allow them to expand their knowledge network.

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