CPAs can lead by translating the technical

Scott D. Wiley, CAE
President & CEO
The Ohio Society of CPAs

In the July issue of CPA Voice I discussed OSCPA’s commitment to providing quality CPE to meet your needs in a changing world.

This month I want to address the other side of the education equation, and it’s something I’ve heard mentioned repeatedly this year by leaders in the accounting profession: the importance of being a constant learner. It’s a habit that will make you not only more competitive and employable, but also a better citizen and well-rounded person.

This is an issue that extends beyond CPE, and it isn’t just for those interested in another certification or an advanced degree. Professional education for CPAs – and anyone else – should be constant and self-motivated.

Just by earning your CPA you’ve proven you have the knowledge and skills needed to be a business leader: financial savvy, strong ethics and an analytical mind. Spending time working in a particular business area also gives you expertise in that domain.

Are you developing skills that go beyond your technical expertise and underscore your value to your employer or clients? These could include communications skills, leadership, the ability to pitch and close a sale, customer service knowledge or strategic planning.

One good example is communication skills. A course on how to make financial presentations to non-financial people could provide an edge in today’s business world. The ability to relate the numbers to a strategic direction, and then explain them is a valuable skill to any organization.

Why is this important to you? Because it can position you as someone who does much more than crunch numbers, open doors you don’t even know exist, get you in contact with more people and elevate your chances of taking your career to the next level.

It’s critical to stay on top of technology. Laysha Ward, president of community relations at Target, said, “We know that, with the rate of technological change, (a career in the 21st century economy) will require a lifelong commitment to learning.”

Leaders have to be able to go even farther beyond that technical business and financial information and be able to communicate it in such a way that audiences of varying knowledge and experience understand and can internalize.

That’s just one possibility for improvement, and I am sure you can think of others. Though the CPE requirement is a cornerstone of the accounting profession, learning is lifelong and shouldn’t stop at the 120-hour requirement every three years. Its true value is intellectual development; it’s an investment that improves our work, elevates our profession and makes our lives more enjoyable.

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