CPD: A necessary evil or an offer you can’t refuse?

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There is no getting away from continuing professional development for those in accountancy and the wider finance industry.

Most professional bodies, the AAT included, make CPD a mandatory requirement for members. That will mean those coming into the sector for the first time either as a school or college leaver, or someone who is deciding to change their career, will get very used to putting in the time designed to help them maintain competence for the work that they do.

But are all those hours worthwhile? And even if so, is it the hard but necessary part of the job that might ultimately need to be undertaken, but otherwise gets in the way of real client work? Are people being forced to keep learning at potentially great expense to their employer, or do the benefits for the workplace far outweigh the cost?

CPD has become a more professional outfit over the years and undoubtedly does provide benefits in an ever changing world, where competency can only truly be proven by those that can demonstrate they are keeping on top of new rules and developments in their chosen field.

Recent AAT research suggests that while employers are hesitant over the benefits that extra training can provide, it is generally seen as of great benefit for an individual within their job, far from being ‘a necessary evil’. While one in five managers told us that they worry training programmes will only help staff develop their careers rather than specifically their current role – and more than a quarter of managers think training is good in principle but disruptive in practice – in contrast just one in 10 employees reported that they seek any kind of training to help them move jobs. Accredited training through CPD is critical for the workforce to improve their skills and abilities, therefore providing the finance industry with higher quality employees who can therefore produce greater client outcomes.

In terms of expense, there’s little reason for an individual or firm to worry. There are a host of CPD events which are held free for members of professional bodies and touch every corner of the UK, covering a variety of topics from tax updates through to core personal development skills, such as putting together a CV. The internet and social media can provide much information as to the CPD events that are nearest and most relevant to you.

In addition, tax reliefs are available on expenses incurred in respect of an employee’s training, with deductions allowed if ‘the employee is obliged to incur and pay the expenses as holder of the employment’, and ‘if the amount is incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of the employment’. Any such training undertaken by self-employed people can also usually be allowed as a trade expense and therefore qualifies for tax reliefs.

The pace of change is at an all-time high and CPD allows employees to keep up with any changes affecting accountancy, whether these be technology or legislative. CPD will only add value and increase employability, and should be seen as a positive, consolidating any previous qualifications.

Photo: Charles Aidoo, was working as an administrative assistant for a dental practice when he began studying for an AAT qualification. “It’s a journey that I am very glad I set off… other than gaining the qualifications, it has also helped me develop skills that are required in day-to-day roles.”

Adam Harwood is AAT's Media Relations Manager.

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