5 Professional Development Opportunities for Accountants

Practice Management, Lifestyle

The impact of the pandemic on the professional services industry has varied widely. For some accountants, business is booming and it’s been difficult to manage such high levels of client work. For others, business has slowed a great deal or even stopped.

Fortunately, anyone who owns or operates a business knows that highs and lows are common. It’s simply important to invest that downtime into your clients, business, and talent – and there’s no better way to do so than by investing in professional development.

For accountants and firms experiencing dwindling billable hours, here are five professional development opportunities that can help you grow as a leader and practitioner, and improve or even add skills to your offerings for when business picks up again.

1. Digital Accounting Conferences

The pandemic has required many in-person conferences and networking opportunities to become virtual events. As much as it’s a shame to miss out on travel and meeting new contacts in person, this does mean it’s easier than ever to attend conferences and learn new things about your industry from the comfort of your home or office. Consider attending and virtually networking at events sponsored by CPA.com or the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) or your state accounting society.

2. Stay On Top of Technological Developments

As the world of business increasingly moves online, it’s critical to maintain your technological competence in the accounting space. Staying in touch with partners who specialize in accounting firm technology and give you access to advice, insight, and the latest research into the technological aspects of accounting via webinars, blog articles, and research reports.

Get instant access to the Modern Accounting Firm Checklist to quickly self-assess if your firm is doing everything it can to increase productivity and efficiency.  

3. Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

Every year, accountants are required to complete continuing professional education (CPE) units to maintain licensing requirements. Use resources at the AICPA to check on your progress and consider working on those credits as you prepare for client demand again. If you have a team of partners, consider working together as a group to work towards these requirements and build community at the same time.

4. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Of course, sometimes learning for learning’s sake is a valuable investment in yourself as a leader and relationship-builder, as well. Hundreds of free, top-tier courses are also available through MOOCs like Coursera, edX, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning. These courses allow you to learn about a variety of topics, from literature to data analytics. This can also act as an engaging team development activity if you employ partners or staff members with similar interests.

5. Executive Coaching for Accountants

Most accountants focus on optimizing their accounting or business skills, overlooking the leadership development that will help them grow in their career. Consider partnering with an independent executive coach to develop your leadership skills and grow your business’s potential. Use this opportunity to focus on the development of yourself as a leader.

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Lifelong Learning is the Key to Staying Ahead

Anyone practicing accounting for very long knows the cycle of highs and lows that come with the calendar. Accountants that can buckle down, stay the course, develop new client relationships, and invest in their professional growth will last in the long-run. After all, a busy period may be just around the corner.