Date posted: 18/11/2019 6 min read

Staying ahead: The importance of continuing professional development

In our rapidly changing world, keeping your knowledge and skill set up-to-date can be your competitive advantage. So how can you future proof to keep across the latest finance and accounting trends and practices.

In brief

  • The finance and accounting industry is, like most industries, being disrupted by technology which is in turn changing the skill set required by professionals
  • Understanding the future of your industry will help you identify what skills you will need going forward
  • Flexible learning arrangements can remove common barriers to pursuing continuing professional development

Employers and employees alike are increasingly recognising the importance of continuing professional development (CPD). In FY 2018/19, 58% of Australian employees undertook professional learning or training1, and globally, 84% of executives, who said automation would require reskilling of their staff, were increasing investment in staff training and development.2Research shows that CPD can help professionals in multiple ways, including improvements to productivity, motivation and engagement, which in turn improve overall performance.3 CPD can also provide the appropriate qualifications which may lead to higher paying roles and higher potential salary earnings over a career4, and has even been linked to improved mental wellbeing.5

With so many courses available, how can accounting and finance professionals confidently choose the right professional development opportunity for them? Follow the next five steps and find out:

1. Understand what changes lie ahead

Technology will only continue to have a significant impact on the roles and specialisations of financial and accounting professionals, so it's important you understand what the future of work will look like.6

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) regularly publish expert reports and thought leadership insights that can help finance and accounting professionals understand future implications of technology. Sector reports like, Audit and Technology, and technology specific insights like, Making it in the gig economy: 5 things you need to know, can provide practical tips to guide your CPD decision-making. Future-focused events and seminars also provide valuable opportunities to gain insights into what the future holds.

2. What's missing from your skill set?

While CPD is an effective way to ensure you don't fall behind on the latest industry practices and technology trends, it's also important to actively identify what areas you will need to future-proof your career in.

A good place to start is digital literacy. Australian employers want 3 million more people with digital literacy skills than are available,7 and by 2030 the average finance professional in Australia will be two to three critical skills short of what is required for their job.8

Chartered Accountants ANZ's report, The Future of Talent: Opportunities Unlimited, found that only 33% of Australian and New Zealand professionals thought they had a good ability to work with data and the latest technology.

Looking to industry leaders is also a useful strategy to understand what skills they think will be in demand going forward. Keep an eye out for interviews with experts on specialist areas, and crosscheck your thoughts against insights from CFOs and finance leaders.

3. Sharpen up your soft skills

Against the backdrop of rapid technological change, it's important to pause and consider how CPD can build your competitive edge with highly transferable soft skills. As traditional accounting tasks are becoming increasingly automated, the role of the accountant is evolving into the 'trusted adviser' - a role in which soft skills such as communication, ethical thinking and negotiation are imperative.9

Chartered Accountants ANZ offer a wide range of CPD learning opportunities across key soft skill areas to support professionals to develop valuable and practical capabilities.

4. Choose the right learning arrangement for you

Between work and personal commitments, it can be difficult to find time to pursue professional development opportunities. It's important to remember that there are a variety of learning arrangements out there that make CPD accessible even for the most time poor professionals.

Recognising the need for flexible learning, Chartered Accountants ANZ's education specialists have developed a diverse catalogue of hundreds of CPD options that include face-to-face seminars, workshops and roadshows as well as a variety of online options including live and recorded webinars, and self-paced courses.

Education Store - Australia

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Education Store New Zealand

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5. Reap rewards, then repeat

Chartered Accountants ANZ learning opportunities are designed and delivered by leading educators and span all areas of business and personal skills, so professionals can take advantage of carefully selecting a CPD course relevant to their situation. In doing so, professionals are able to directly apply new skills and knowledge to their current role, and experience the benefits that follow.

Ultimately, learning is a lifelong undertaking, and in an ever-changing world, accounting and finance professionals will need to pursue continuing professional development to maintain their competitive edge and perform effectively.

Designed to help you learn where and when it best suits you, discover the perfect online CPD course to help you shape broader business decisions and remain relevant in a changing world with the CA advantage.
7 Deloitte Insights, The Path to Prosperity, Executive Summary, Page IV.
8 Deloitte Insights, The Path to Prosperity, Chart 15, Page 27:    


Online CPD

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