Igniting a Passion for Learning

Last time, as part of a discussion on AICPA’s Future of Learning initiative, I focused on the Future of Learning Task Force recommendation to innovate and experiment, including ideas on selecting the right delivery method for a topic, ways to integrate technology into learning and, perhaps most importantly, ideas for small changes to delivery that can have a huge impact.

Creating a Spark

Today, let’s focus on the recommendation to “ignite a passion for learning.”

In a professional environment where complying with CPE hours often places more value on how much time you spend in a classroom than the quality of what you learn—it is not uncommon for a CPA’s desire to learn to be extinguished and replaced by a resignation to comply.

The importance of motivating CPAs to build competency in meaningful ways cannot be undervalued. And, as we noted in the report, nothing motivates and engages learners like meaningful, purposeful experiences. Whether you create regulation, develop employees or deliver learning, challenge yourself to answer the following, Education for what purpose? If you keep this in mind you will help professionals make the most out of each learning experience.

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Strengthening the Profession’s Core with Relevance, Rigor and Reach

Tommye_barie_headshot2I am excited to write to you as the new chair of the AICPA Board of Directors. I hope to meet many of you at the numerous conferences, state society meetings and firm visits that I have lined up between now and next October. The Chair’s Letter also is a great forum to discuss common experiences and important developments. Throughout the year, I will share my thoughts on key trends and emerging professional issues. I hope you’ll share your comments with me and our fellow CPAs so we can have a robust dialogue.

Let me begin by telling you a little about myself. I grew up in the tiny town of West Liberty, Kentucky, home to about 2,000 people and two stoplights. I was raised on small-town values that remain with me today. These values – hard work, integrity, community and commitment – first attracted me to the accounting profession, and now they will shape my stewardship as AICPA Chair.

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Dynamic Firm Benchmarking: the New MAP Survey Platform in Action

MAP surveyHave you ever performed an in-depth comparison of your firm’s standing against other firms of the same size? The 2014 PCPS/TSCPA National Management of an Accounting Practice Survey provides some new and valuable ways to assess where your firm stands and plot your future course. If you participated in the survey this year but haven’t really delved into the results, which became available in November, you definitely want to check them out. Thanks to a new online platform, it’s much easier to take a peek at how firms like yours operate. And even if you didn’t participate, the survey offers some valuable information that will help your firm plan.

Take the case of a single owner firm like mine. We have a boutique corporate tax practice. In addition to myself, our permanent staff includes one CPA and one CPA candidate, but we add an administrative person and per diem help in busy season. When I’m planning for the future, I often wonder what a top performance single-owner firm looks like, but it’s tough to find more than anecdotal information.

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Benchmarking the Finance Function

Global management accounting principlesOn October 22, CIMA and AICPA released Global Management Accounting Principles, which are available for download at CGMA.org. 

When explaining the principles, the first thing I usually mention is that they are not a prescriptive set of rules. They are principles-based, comprehensive, best-practice guidance designed to help organizations (and specifically finance leaders, CEOs and boards) benchmark and improve their management accounting functions. 

The Global Management Accounting Principles encompass four core principles focused on four outcomes:

  • Influence - Communication provides insight that is influential
  • Relevance - Information is relevant
  • Value - Impact on value is analyzed
  • Trust - Stewardship builds trust

The principles outline the fundamental values and qualities that represent management accounting. Application of the principles, combined with talented people and robust performance systems, will help drive effective management accounting functions.

The document is most impactful in section five, where the core principles are applied to 14 management accounting practice areas. Here, extensive good practice guidance is provided in key areas such as treasury management, financial strategy, cost transformation, budgetary control, investment appraisal and risk management. The guidance can be used to self-assess existing processes.  A diagnostic checklist is available to facilitate the review.

A complimentary resource to the management accounting principles is the CGMA Competency Framework, which is designed to help management accountants understand knowledge requirements and assess skills needed for current and desired roles. In addition to technical areas, the Competency Framework addresses business, people and leadership skills.

The Global Management Accounting Principles are focused on the organization. The Competency Framework is directed at the individual. Combined, they are powerful tools that we hope you and your team find useful.

Paul Parks, CPA, CGMA, Associate Director- Business Industry and Government, American Institute of CPAs  

AICPA Introduces New Disruptive Technology

Audit data analyticsWith the issuance of the AICPA’s Audit Data Standards, the Institute has introduced what promises to be a significant disruptive technology – data on demand. ADS were designed to bridge the gap between disparate Enterprise Resource Planning systems and apps (tools and technologies) that analyze a company’s data. Until now business information consumers had to rely on IT personnel to either develop customized extraction routines or develop applications within the ERP system to do what users were asking for. But, as many business information consumers know, that process is often expensive and time-consuming. All that is about to change.

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