It is easy to think that after several years in your field as a finance professional, that you are beyond entering the classroom anymore. For accountants and professionals in the financial sector though, there is still plenty of learning to come.
Continuing Professional Development is just as important for your future career potential in the financial sector as passing exams were in your earlier years. This is to ensure that you learn new skills for roles which come with more responsibility whilst also ensuring that you’re staying up to date with changing economic and social circumstances.
All of the accountancy professional bodies require their members to undertake and record CPD to prove their ongoing commitment to advancing their own knowledge, while many employers strongly encourage it as well, sometimes with strong incentives to do so.
Getting a supervisory role
Upon qualification, the first step for many accountants is to extend their supervisory responsibilities, which can often be more complicated than it may seem. As well as the accounting side, there is the people management responsibility, business strategy, office “politics” and an entire host of other tasks that you will need to be able to handle, of which no one is able to excel at all of them, at least to begin with. Which is why CPD is so extremely necessary.
The most important responsibility when becoming a supervisor or manager is analysing and understanding what your personal style of operating and behaviour is. The next step is learning how to use it effortlessly and effectively. Self-awareness, including understanding what your personal strengths and weaknesses are, is a vital skill if you are going to extract the best work from your team.
As a finance professional, you will have experienced a myriad of changes in the industry this decade. New technologies are continually being developed and organisational structures are in a constant state of flux. With a particular trend of ‘hollowing out the middle’. You are continually presented with various new concepts that you need to absorb, learn and sometimes master.
Traditionally, people may have expected jobs for a lifetime, and perhaps after a brief induction to their new organisation any additional learning was seen as an optional extra. CPD is one of the keys to success in the modern knowledge society that we all live in today.
The benefits of CPD
CPD is important for career development, acquiring new skills and for self motivation. Professionals who undertake regular CPD are more fulfilled and confident in their organisational roles.
Effective learning should include a process of reflection:
- Where have I been?
- Where am I now?
- Where do I want and need to be?
- How will I get there?
- How will I know when I have arrived?
A Personal Development Record is advised to plan, record and demonstrate your CPD record. Ultimately it is important to set personal goals and to then measure whether you completed the goals.
How to meet your CPD goals
There are a number of ways to meet your personal CPD goals. Some examples are listed below:
- Formal on-the-job training
- Reading focused trade publications
- Attending relevant training courses
- Completing online learning related to your area of expertise
- One-on-one coaching with a mentor
- Delivering training to others, especially financial training.
Does it sound like you have not prioritised your personal and professional development? There is no need to be concerned and you are not on your own. It is not realistic or expected that you will know all the latest developments in the financial services sector – that it why it is termed continuing professional development. What is important that you know where to find it. In this instant access world, you can now set your own path – learning what you feel you need to and working on your own limitations, while building on your strengths, whether that is in accounting or related financial work.
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