Being a CPA is synonymous with continuous learning. Each year CPAs collectively complete millions of hours of continuing professional education (CPE) credits.
The good news for practitioners is that there are benefits to lifelong learning above and beyond licensure requirements.
Adopting a growth mindset and embracing lifelong learning has the potential to improve your mental health, add variety to your daily work, expand your social network, make you essential in an ever-changing economy and increase trust with clients.
Improve mental health
Children and young adults are continuously learning at school, in internships, and in new jobs, but too often that learning tapers off among mid-to-late-career professionals.
According to a study published in the Journals of Gerontology, older adults who learned multiple new skills saw noticeable improvements in cognition.
By regularly exercising your brain, you can help prevent cognitive decline and even enhance brain function by building and strengthening connections.
Add variation and excitement to your life
Attaining proficiency in your current role is admirable but repeating similar tasks every day could get boring. Infusing a few hours of learning into your week has the potential to reengage you with your work.
And don’t limit yourself to topics that perfectly align with your specialty.
Exploring seemingly unrelated fields like art or engineering can help you think of novel solutions to problems, or at the very least, stimulate and grow your brain. And if you are interested in expanding your areas of expertise within finance and accounting, many learning products are readily available.
Build a larger network
With the demands of work, family and everything else in life, networking often becomes an afterthought for busy accounting and finance professionals.
Continuous learning and skill-building blend learning and networking, multiplying their benefits.
Many professional conferences are now held both in person and online, making them easier than ever to attend. Conferences have long been an excellent way to connect with peers while learning about the latest developments in the profession.
AICPA members can join sections such as NFP, Tax, PFP or FVS to focus the content you receive from us and facilitate building a specific network.
Members can also join committees and task forces — and even the board of directors.
Joining a committee and peer group, training within your firm or participating in a community workshop are all great ways to build your network while learning new things, whether it be soft skills like communication and leadership or technical skills like cybersecurity and data analytics.
Connecting with people outside your professional peer groups is also beneficial, and these connections could end up becoming clients, friends, or even mentors.
Make yourself essential in an ever-changing world
Every CPA is likely aware of the ways technology is transforming the profession.
The pace of change requires practitioners to at least stay informed of, if not develop a level of proficiency with, emerging technologies related to Data Analytics, Cybersecurity and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
By learning about emerging technologies, and perhaps even volunteering to implement them at your firm, you are making yourself indispensable to both your organization and clients. This also demonstrates your agility and openness to change.
By harnessing technology, you might be able to free up time for developing those “human skills” that can’t be replicated by machines, such as leadership, communication, and insight generation.
Increase trust with clients
One of the main reasons clients trust CPAs is because they exude knowledge and expertise.
Expertise requires staying up to date on changes that affect clients and your responsibilities as a practitioner.
CPAs can complete CPE and certifications designed by experts on essential topics such as tax, accounting, assurance, ethics, employee benefits plans, not-for-profit, fraud and forensics. Or you can learn how to better serve clients by completing CPE on client needs.
Whichever approach you decide to take, becoming a lifelong learner and adopting a growth mindset is sure to have a multitude of benefits for your personal and professional life.