Tag Archives: CPE

A Revolution in CPE Is Coming: Is the 50-Minute CPE Hour Dead?

I have talked to PICPA members, students, and educators over the past several years regarding the current state of accounting education and the need for change. The AICPA’s CPA Horizons 2025 Report and The Pathways Commission address the issue of future learning for both the professional and undergraduate levels. The PICPA has taken notice and is acting. tech learningOur CPE products, for example, have evolved from a traditional slate of seminars to now include webinars, webcasts, and on-demand CPE. We are embracing these changes to meet the needs of our members as they strive to provide value to their clients and employers. Continue reading

CPA Final’s Time Approaches

busBy now your children have returned to their learning environments, surrounded by their friends and cohorts. You may be wishing that you could do the same. Well, it’s not only time for your kids to get their credits, but it’s that time for CPAs too.

Around this time every other year, we have a fair number of our members double checking their CPE history to make sure that they are in compliance with Pennsylvania State Board requirements. You should be aware the CPE rules changed, including two big ones.  In the State Board of Accountancy newsletter dated April 2013, the State Board highlights its recent rules and regulation changes applicable to CPE.

The first obvious change is with respect to ethics.  Pennsylvania CPAs are now required to obtain a minimum of four hours of CPE in ethics beginning with the 2012-2103 renewal cycle.

cpetakerThe second prominent change that you should be aware of is that the board specifically states that “practice building” and “office management” are not acceptable CPE subject areas. To be on the safe side, if you have CPE credits in these topic areas, now’s the time to get that CPE that you thought you had and will need.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind as you are reviewing your CPE history:

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    PICPA is an approved sponsor of the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy.

  1. Make sure that your CPE is with an approved sponsor. If you took all of your CPE with us, you already know that the PICPA is an approved sponsor of the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy (PA SBA). If you didn’t take all of your CPE with us, make certain that your certificate of completion has a sponsor code from either the PA SBA or NASBA.

  2.  As mentioned above, you are now required to have four hours in ethics CPE. You should also have a minimum of 8-Tax and 16-A&A CPE credits. You should also make sure that you have a minimum of 20-credit hours in each year.
  3. You should have no more than 40 hours of self-study CPE. If you have more, you can only apply 40 hours toward your license renewal.
  4. If you’ve moved since you last renewed your license, you need to contact the PA SBA and let them know as they do not forward license renewals.
  5. Speaking of license renewals, the PA SBA expects to mail them out about two months prior our licenses expiring. Now, wouldn’t it be nice if you had all of your CPE done by then? Check out our catalog and let us help you renew your license with confidence!

Quick! How Many Ways Can You Set Up a CPE Schedule?

We are in an age of instant gratification. We want things personalized and on demand. The marketplace responds with choices! With all the choices, sometimes the easiest decisions become complicated because we get too much information. PICPA’s new online CPE catalog can help make your CPE planning easier with streamlined search results.

PICPA’s CPE offerings have expanded significantly. We expanded our webinar and On-Demand programs to complement the robust live CPE programs we offer through seminars and conferences. Sometimes the search results were overwhelming when trying to find the right fit for your areas of interest as well as address time and travel constraints. Now, you can not only narrow your course search by keyword, credit type, and dates, but you can review results by In-Person, Webinar, and On-Demand categories. We just made your selection process easier.

In the past I’ve written about our new On-Demand CPE products, and members have been finding them, even though we didn’t make it easy at first. Just a few weeks ago, Heidi Turley posted a blog explaining how we would be updating the way members experience the On-Demand products, particularly on mobile devices, in early August. I’m happy to report that we launched Aug. 1. As anyone who has ever been involved in Web updates, it’s a wonderful thing when you see a successful launch on time.

With nearly 70 On-Demand course offerings, there are many ways to enhance your professional education experience and the education of your colleagues and clients. Here are just a few ideas to consider:

  • You attend a PICPA conference and wish your colleague was with you to hear a speaker. For many conferences we are filming the speakers and making their presentations and course material available as part of our On-Demand offerings.  If you see PICPA’s film crew at work, problem solved! Sessions should be available within two weeks of a conference and you can encourage your colleague to order that session.
  • Your firm is committed to providing on-site training, but internal staff do not have the time to develop the appropriate course materials. Ethics, is a perfect example of a course that is needed by all CPAs, but may be difficult to develop. You can require all staff to order the program; watch the video as a group; interrupt at certain times to expand upon specific instances that apply in your practice/company; and then participants can go back and take the exam questions independently. Another problem solved!
  • A presenter is offering information you have been trying to get a client or employer to understand or adopt. You can send your client a link to the course, or purchase and sit with your client and view the program together so you are available to stop and explain points during the presentation. A new, value-added service! [Note, in this scenario you would not get credit for taking the program a second time.]
  • You are travelling and have a long layover in the airport. You can pick up a CPE credit or two using the On-Demand option. The new platform lends itself very well to mobile devices. No more wasted time at the airport.
  • Some people are night owls, some are early risers. Often the bookends of the day are a good time to catch up on professional updates when clients and employees don’t interrupt. Taking courses at these times free up business hours for other professional obligations.
  • Finally, in Heidi’s blog she suggested you could take CPE while on the beach. Personally, I’m not a fan of that one – I much prefer novels and naps on the beach. But, the beauty of On-Demand is that while I am napping, you could be taking a course if that’s how you want to spend your beach time.

What are some of the ways you plan to incorporate these new options into your professional education plan? Will this affect the way you plan your CPE schedule as you work to complete the 80 hours of CPE credit during this reporting period?

This is a reporting year and for the first time, four hours of ethics is required to renew your license. On-Demand may be a good option to help you meet this requirement by the Dec. 31, 2013 deadline.

This is a reporting year and for the first time, four hours of ethics is required to renew your license. On-Demand may be a good option to help you meet this requirement by the Dec. 31, 2013 deadline.

Embrace the Game Changer

I recently read an article from McKinsey & Company titled “The Do-or-Die Questions Boards Should Ask About Technology.” I recommend it as a must read for every PICPA member, whether your role is in public or private accounting.

While the article is targeted to questions a board should be asking, it can be applied to all leaders of an organization.  Technology is a game changer.  Pure and simple.  It’s a disrupter to existing businesses and can pose a significant threat, or opportunity, to any business model.  To quote the article, “The bar is high for delighting customers in a digital world.  For incumbents in many sectors, technology is becoming an arms race.”

girlcomputerHere at the PICPA, we recognize the market disruption that can occur from a shift in technology.   The PICPA has always been a leader in professional education, delivering quality and excellence primarily in a classroom environment.  However, competitors have entered the CPE market space with offers of webinars and on-demand courses.  In response, the PICPA has expanded its offerings of webinars and on-demand/self-study products:  more than 100 webinars each month and now more than 50 on-demand/self-study courses.

phoneWithin the next few weeks, you’ll see a change in our course catalog search page displays all of our course offerings on one page.  In early August, we’ll be launching new technology for our on-demand courses – presenting a viewing method that is much simpler and friendly to use on mobile devices.  I encourage you to try one of our on-demand/self-study classes – particularly from a mobile device.  It’s so convenient and an easy way to fulfill your CPE requirements while traveling, sitting on the beach (yes, I know that’s a stretch but some people are really behind on their credits), or anywhere you have “down time.”

To quote the article again , “Customer expectations are rising quickly.  Simply meeting these enhanced expectations can be a major effort for organizations that were not born digital.”  The PICPA is 116 years old – hardly an organization born in the digital age!  Our efforts to deliver the highest quality education products via webinars and on-demand have been a significant undertaking for our organization.  Attending CPE programs is PICPA’s most utilized member benefit.  We recognize that exceeding members’ expectations for delivery of CPE is a business priority for our organization, and use of technology is critical in our efforts to do so.  I’d appreciate any thought or feedback you may have on our new initiatives. Drop me a note at hturley@picpa.org.

Free CPE: If It’s Free, It’s for Me!

Lazor,-Bill

Past President, Bill Lazor

Here at the PICPA we have a new member president each year. One particular president had a certain way of adding a comedic twist to what he said.  We called this habit “Lazorisms” (after Bill’s last name, Lazor.) Although some of you may believe that there is no such thing as a free lunch, Bill felt otherwise. One of his favorite sayings was “If it’s free, it’s for me!”

The PICPA offers our members a free service to schedule courses in their offices, which we call on-site training. A lot of our members may not know that this service is available. We’re doing our best to let them know by using our marketing vehicles and of course, this blog post.

On-siteLeaveBehindThere are several advantages to having a course in your offices. The most obvious is saving time and money on staff travel to a public seminar, but just as important, and sometimes overlooked, is the ability to discuss confidential client matters while learning how to adopt a certain accounting or tax rule.

In addition to training your own staff, on-site training can also be used to train your clients. In fact, just recently, the clients of accounting consultant AC Lordi and tax consultant GTM gave the gift of free CPE at a recent on-site program. You see the teams at AC Lordi and GTM decided that now that ethics is a requirement for Pennsylvania CPAs, why not treat clients and employees to four hours of ethics credit for free?

The program was a tremendous success, and it was a win-win all around. The clients were thrilled to get their ethics credits taken care of, eat lunch, network, and then return to their offices for a productive day. AC Lordi and GTM were pleased because they would certainly see a return on their CPE investment. The PICPA was thrilled to be the sponsor for the program and provide our members with a high-quality education experience.

Free CPE and lunch for your clients; how about it? Contact the PICPA for your next program and let us schedule the course at your location; secure the instructor and materials; and issue the continuing education credits. All you have to do is send the invitation to your clients and employees and enjoy the show!

On-Demand CPE: When and Where You Want It

Burger King has been offering to “Have it Your Way” for decades now. That idea of flexibility has been built into the PICPA’s communications plan for the last few years as well, as we expanded our information sources to include video, digital publications, apps, and social media channels to complement our print, electronic, and Web resources. Our CPE team has embraced this business model too, providing members with more options to meet the demands of the profession, including our ever-popular course offerings, webinars, and live-streaming webcasts. Now, PICPA has added a new service to our CPE suite – On-Demand CPE.

OnDemandCPEMuch of the content for our On-Demand products will come from our amazing speakers at our specialized conferences. Many of those sessions will be taped and made available as part of the On-Demand service. So, if you are not able to attend a program in person, you can go back and participate in some of the sessions you missed. All you need is Internet access and a computer, tablet, or smart phone. As an added bonus, if you are attending a program and think, “I wish [insert name] was here to listen to this presentation” you can make it happen. Your colleague will be able to participate virtually in many cases, and earn CPE credit as well. Some of our webinars will be available for On-Demand as well.

PICPA’s On-Demand will be classified as an “Interactive individual study program,” which means you will earn one credit hour of CPE credit for each 50 minutes of participation. There will be review questions to be completed and a brief exam after the completion of the program. You will receive your results immediately after finishing the exam portion.

From a CPE licensing perspective, self-study courses cannot exceed 50 percent or 40 hours of CPE per biennial requirement. So, you are going to have to interact with people some time! Let me take a moment to comment on that – when you are at our live programs, take advantage of the opportunity to network and learn from your colleagues. PICPA members have the added bonus of being able to easily follow up with other attendees through the course participant list in their online account.  Nothing can replace that in-person interaction, but we know it’s not always easy to accomplish.

We’re rolling out the On-Demand courses as our conference schedule is starting up. Look for it to grow as the year progresses. Our technology team is also working on a more streamlined search function and testing module that will change the experience later this summer.

Stay tuned. The PICPA is continuing to change so that you can “Have it Your Way.”

Technology – Where Is It Taking Us?

I’ve just returned from my favorite conference of the year – Digital Now. Association executives from all over the country gather to discuss the trends in technology and how they affect the mission of associations. Our keynote speaker was Dr. Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist who discussed his book, “Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100”.

Dr. Kaku showed us how the “future” is really not that far away.  Using molecular medicine, scientists are already starting to grow replacement organs for the human body.  A prototype of a self-driven car is already functional. Sensors will be installed to monitor your health on a daily basis are in development (no more annual doctor visits!)   Sound crazy?  Maybe not.

Google Glass

Google Glass (Courtesy Google)

Google glasses will be out by the end of the year. If you don’t like glasses, according to Dr. Kaku, Google contact lenses will follow shortly.

Here at the PICPA, we’re always thinking about how technology can improve the member experience. Consider this: CPE through Google Glass. OK, we’re not there yet, but who knows what might be available five years from now. Until then, we are focusing on the development of more on-demand CPE courses. Our conferences showcase some of the best speakers in the state. If you can’t make the conference, you’ll soon be able to view the session at your convenience, complete a test at the end, and earn your CPE credits. We currently offer a limited number of courses, I encourage you to give one a try.  I personally recommend the “Managing Growth and Succession Planning in 2013” – it’s a great course.

The PICPA also is exploring innovative ways to expedite the verification process for attendance at a CPE program, identify tools that allow our members to more effectively develop education plans for themselves and staff, and improve the transactional processes of our website. It’s going to be an exciting year. Next stop, Best Buy to get my Google Glass.

State Board of Accountancy Adopts New Regulations

New regulations related to continuing professional education (CPE) and minor violations of the Pennsylvania CPA Law were published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Dec. 1, 2012. This marks the official implementationEthics of the required four hours of ethics training as part of the CPE requirement to renew your biennial license to practice. This four-hour ethics requirement was previously announced by the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy and communicated to our members. The PICPA has been preparing for this, and we’ve developed numerous options for you to obtain these credits.

In addition to requiring ethics training as part of your 80-hour CPE license renewal requirement, the CPE regulations address several PICPA-driven initiatives. One is to allow the acceptance of CPE programs from non-Pennsylvania- or NASBA-approved sponsors if the program provider is approved in the state where it is headquartered, and that state is considered a mobility (substantially equivalent) state. Currently, only Hawaii is not approved as a mobility state. Many of our members who have had their CPE hours audited in the past may have had courses disallowed because the program provider was not approved by Pennsylvania or NASBA. The licensee would be fined and have to make up the deficient hours. With this new regulation, if the licensee took a course from a provider approved by a state board in any mobility state, the program will be accepted and the discipline averted.

The Pennsylvania State Board’s disciplinary process for enforcing the statute and regulations will be streamlined with the implementation of new civil penalty regulations. Under authority of Act 48, the Board is able to issue citations for certain minor violations in accordance with a schedule of civil penalties. The published schedule of civil penalties includes minor CPE violations and unlicensed practice. The citation process, similar to a traffic ticket, will allow the State Board to focus more time on meaningful professional issues and less on disciplinary matters.

Links to the new regulations are below:

In a related manner, PICPA also supports a bill in the Pennsylvania legislature that would provide an expungement provision for minor disciplinary violations from the Pennsylvania licensee database. Currently any licensee who has been disciplined by the State Board has a notice of the disciplinary action in their online record, searchable by the public. Last session’s House Bill 646, introduced by Rep. Kate Harper, would allow a one-time expungement after a four-year period for minor violations of the CPA Law or regulations. This legislation will be reintroduced in the new legislative session in 2013, and we will keep you apprised of its progress.

If you have any specific questions after reviewing these regulations, please feel free to respond to this post or contact me directly.

Chocolate Chip CPE

Neiman Marcus recently used one of their retail catalogs to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You may not have heard the story, so, allow me to paraphrase the rumor.

Story has it that many years ago a father brought his daughter with him for a holiday shopping trip to Neiman Marcus. She wanted a cookie so he asked the clerk how much it was. He was told “250.” He assumed that meant $2.50, but what the Neiman’s employee actually “meant” was “$250.” The father was furious and expressed his discontent to the employee. The employee, in defense, responded, “But you get the recipe with it.” And there you have it; the father paid $250 for a cookie recipe, and said that he would give it to everyone that he knew for free so that he could “get them back.”

Apparently, he did. I must have received this recipe five times over the past eight years with the same story attached.  We could poke many holes through this nasty rumor, but many people assumed the story to be a true one. Recently, Neiman’s took an interesting approach to this rumor, and decided to set the “story” straight. First of all, Neiman Marcus didn’t even sell cookies when this rumor started. They used this rumor, however, as a business opportunity.  The executive chef actually did create a special cookie recipe, and you can get it for free on their website.

Here at the PICPA, our recipe doesn’t even relate to cookies, but to electronic materials. Like Neiman Marcus, we are the subject of persistent assumptions and rumors surrounding our decision to use e-materials in lieu of paper materials. This decision was not an easy one, by any stretch of the imagination. There were several variables to consider: we were relocating offices, and if we minimized the size of the production room, we could save $1 million of members’ money over the term of the lease, or $100,000 per year in rent; we were killing a lot of trees, literally, with close to 12 million paper copies per year; and, one of our major vendors decided that it was no longer going to print materials for us, or any other state CPA society. We had a tough decision to make, and fortunately a number of other state societies had already been offering e-materials and were willing to share their best practices and experiences.

We decided to move forward and offer e-materials for 100 percent of our courses, knowing full well that some people would not like this decision. We even went to the board for approval of  a new budget line item to smooth the transition from paper to e-materials through the  give-away of more than 150 e-readers (Kindle Fires and Nook Tablets) at all of our conferences and a number of our seminars. We had been testing e-materials for our conferences, and were ready to make the change across the board for all of our events.

Now here’s where the “confusion” (i.e., assumptions, rumors, etc.) lies: with all of the “savings” from not printing materials, we must be keeping it. Not so fast. All of you have experienced the price hikes in gasoline and oil, and with the increase in food prices and everything else in our lives. Prices go up. Well, we have been able to use the paper savings to the benefit of our members by not increasing course prices. That includes the facilities where we host our CPE. Some have increased costs significantly; one location in particular increased food and beverage costs by 12 percent. This increase was not budgeted for, as it occurred during our fiscal year. Thankfully, we were saving money on paper, rent, and postage on hard-copy materials so we could continue to offer courses at the same prices as we have for the past several years.

There you have it. Just like Neiman’s, we want to dispel the persistent rumors. We review your written comments from the course evaluations and listen to your calls in an effort to keep your PICPA CPE experience as good, or even better, as it ever was. I welcome your comments, for if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t exist, nor would we be able to make our programs better.  For the record, my favorite cookie is, and always will be, the chocolate chip. The Toll House recipe is just fine with me; I don’t need a $250 recipe to put a smile on my face; just a good chocolate chipper to make my day.

Living Tomorrow Before Today

I’m not really sure when we lost the notion, but there was a time when technology was supposed to make our lives more efficient. It doesn’t seem as if it has. There’s less time and more to do, and you better respond to that e-mail that you just received as you are reading this because the person on the other end of that message is expecting your reply in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

We have to find time to learn more, do more and then do a little bit more, than that, but then we get stuck with having less time to do “it.” Did I lose you yet? Well, that’s what I mean with the title of this post. We are constantly moving, and it feels like we are trying too hard to live in the future when all that we really should be doing is living in the present.

PICPA Not for Profit Conference attendees using technology to enhance their learning experience.

Take continuing education for example. That’s what I do here for the PICPA.  I need to make sure that our member CPAs have enough opportunities and options to fulfill their professional development needs to best serve their clients and employers, while meeting state licensing requirements. What’s interesting, however, is what’s happened over the past year both here in Pennsylvania, and across the country. I attended AICPA interchange in mid-July to share best practices with others from across the country who do my job,  and you know what’s interesting? All CPAs are looking at education differently. Why shouldn’t they? Yes, it’s required, but there’s no time! So, why not sit at a desk and take that class online?  That’s exactly where the tremendous shift has happened. That’s not to say that it’s a bad shift, but it’s one that happened practically overnight.  What’s interesting, too, is that there’s a shift toward smaller segments, like one-, two-, and three-hour options.

As I watch the participant trend toward smaller segments of learning, I wonder how much learning is actually happening. Are we multitasking our education much in the same way that we multitask our lives? Personally, I prefer to interact with others face- to- face, and have always felt that I get more out of an in-person environment. I believe that a lot of us still feel that way; it’s just that Father Time has other plans for us – plans that involve layers upon layers of decisions and prioritizing over and over again.

Well, as you might expect, my phone and e-mail are ringing off the hook. I would be interested in hearing and reading what your experiences have been. More importantly, I’d love to hear how the PICPA can help you get to where you are going; faster and smarter than you were expecting  - so that you too can get back to the work that is impatiently waiting for attention right at your fingertips.