Contact: Dave Shatkowski, Indiana CPA Society
Phone: (317) 726-5022
Email: [email protected]
INDIANAPOLIS - After four years of planning and development, the CPA Center of Excellence® is ready to take CPAs to the next level and beyond. Powered by the Indiana CPA Society, the CPA Center of Excellence® is a platform created to better prepare CPAs for the challenges of the future.
What began in 2010 as an exploration of knowledge management and ways in which knowledge could be captured, stored and transferred among CPAs, the CPA Center of Excellence® that evolved is that and much more. It included a study of the future of competency for CPAs and development of CPA core competency descriptors. The process included two white papers released to national accounting media in 2012 and 2013 (1, 2).
The Center is built on the foundation of advancing the CPA profession's critical success skills (or core competencies), and offers a variety of tools, resources and creative educational opportunities that will position CPAs to improve those competencies in order to meet future client, employer and environmental needs and demands. It emphasizes competency-based learning, a concept much different than the current hours-based model.
Knowledge sharing and awareness of emerging trends and issues are other major pieces of the CPA Center of Excellence®. The Society believes that in addition to being proficient in several core competencies, CPAs must also share knowledge and maintain an awareness of the trends and issues impacting them to be more agile, adaptive, dynamic and resilient.
“The CPA Center of Excellence® reflects the future of the CPA profession," said Indiana CPA Society President & CEO Gary Bolinger, CAE. “It encompasses not only much-needed movement toward a competency-based approach to professional development, but also stresses the career success skills that may be even more vital than technical skills, to position CPAs as trusted business advisors in the years ahead."
The CPA Center of Excellence® was developed under the guidance of David Griffiths, Ph.D., a Wales-based international knowledge management and complexity advisor. Nearly 100 INCPAS members have also been actively involved in various capacities as the CPA Center of Excellence® came to life.
“The Indiana Society's emphasis on competency-based approaches to training and learning is a major step forward. It's something that is unique across the landscape of associations that are focused on the CPA community," said J. Clarke Price, CAE, relationship manager for the CPA Center of Excellence® and former CEO of the Ohio Society of CPAs. “The tools, programs and resources available through the CPA Center of Excellence® are something that will change how we look at training and the preparation of professionals. It's a great step forward."
The CPA Center of Excellence, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana CPA Society. Its products and services are relevant to CPAs not only in Indiana, but throughout the United States and perhaps even internationally.
Five main components of the CPA Center of Excellence® are being released this summer. A new website, http://cpacoe.com, is live and open to the public. The site contains descriptions of the components, dates and/or ordering information. The five components are:
CPA Excellence – A Quick Start Guide to Defining and Mastering Vital Skills for Success
This 83-page handbook contains charts, graphics and frameworks in a step-by-step approach for both individuals and CPA firm HR managers to progress through and master the critical success skills. Also included are the full competency descriptors for seven core competencies. Available for only $19.95, or if ordering four or more copies, just $15.95 each.
CPA Excellence – Online Interactive Courses
These modules are the future of CPA education and are also relevant to other professionals. Both interactive and on-demand, the modules provide deep learning experiences and include actual stories from real experts. They can be completed in multiple segments over a 90-day period. Modules on leadership and critical thinking skills are currently available. Five more on decision making, collaboration, entrepreneurship, communication, and knowledge sharing will be released in the coming months. They are priced at $229.
CPA Excellence – Live Simulation Events
Though these are live events held in a classroom, they are anything but traditional continuing professional education. After a brief introduction, participants go through a live simulation to implement plans and solve real-world challenges. A debrief for reflections conclude the event. Currently three events are scheduled from Nov. 18-20. Topics covered will be leadership, communication and critical thinking. The events are priced at $319 for INCPAS members and $469 for nonmembers. More events will be added in the future.
CPA Core Competency Study
The Indiana CPA Society has partnered with Cognitive Edge's Sensemaker® product to create an assessment tool for CPAs. Before competency development can begin, CPAs and their employers need to know where each CPA is starting from. This tool provides the answers. A benchmarking survey is being conducted this summer nationwide to give a baseline for CPA competency levels that CPAs and their firms can measure themselves against.
CPA Center of Excellence® Online
Sharing knowledge is all about collaboration, and the CPA Center of Excellence® Online provides the perfect online collaboration space for CPAs to connect with each other and share knowledge in a more efficient and effective way than ever before. The CPA Center of Excellence® Online, which will include individual profiles, groups, discussion boards, blogs and a CPA resource library, will be available in July. All INCPAS members will have free access.
In addition to the five components of the CPA Center of Excellence®, other aspects of the project are significant to the future of learning and competency development for the CPA profession. For example, the online modules offer the ability to earn digital badges upon completion. This relatively new concept had not been available in the CPA profession previously. These digital badges are contained in a digital backpack, and can be displayed publicly on not only a CPA's CPA Center of Excellence® Online profile, but also on LinkedIn pages and other forms of online professional profiles and résumés. They link back to verification of the module completed and signify achievement in the various skills.
Another element of the CPA Center of Excellence® is creating awareness of emerging issues and trends, and to that end, a group called the Fusion Network provides weekly blogs and quarterly podcasts on timely topics. The Fusion Network is made up of more than 30 INCPAS members statewide who have volunteered their time and expertise to help their fellow CPAs keep up with issues and trends impacting them now and in the future. The blog site called The Smoke Detector is open to the public at http://fusionnetwork.incpas.net.
Finally, in support of both collaboration and competency enhancement, the Indiana CPA Society has begun forming member networks as another component of competency development, knowledge management and knowledge sharing. The first group, made up of representatives of about 10 mid-size local public accounting firms called the Genesis Network, has been active for more than a year. Other member networks of both public accounting and business and industry members are in the process of being formed.
As the CPA Center of Excellence®'s slogan, “This is Better," implies, INCPAS truly believes a focus on competency assessment, competency enhancement and intelligent collaboration are the keys to success in the future for the CPA profession. This new learning model is better, and CPAs who experience what the CPA Center of Excellence® has to offer will not only immediately see the benefits, but will recognize the value of this new approach.