K.M. Wong, Chairman of the Institute’s Professional Development Committee and Chief Financial Officer of Hong Kong Electric Investments, on ways for members to maximize their learning during CPD seminars and workshops
As we all know, continuing professional development (CPD) is a requirement for Institute members to renew their annual membership. Owing to this, some CPAs may view it as a compliance issue and prefer doing it at a minimum cost for maximum number of hours. There is nothing wrong with that, but there may be a missing opportunity here.
Quite a number of members attending the Institute’s CPD courses are those CPAs working in professional firms or commercial organizations that may not be able to offer technical or management training to their staff on a frequent basis. The Institute’s CPD seminars and workshops may be essential to helping members compete and enhance themselves in the workplace. Given the busyness of CPAs, it is vital that we take full advantage of the opportunities to learn provided by CPD courses, and get the most out of each we attend.
Bearing that in mind, members should enrol in CPD courses which go beyond simple training or learning of technical knowledge and skills needed for a particular task fulfilling immediate or present needs. Instead, aiming to support their continuous development, members should seek out CPD courses which meet their goals and long-term needs. They should also be open-minded, undertake on-going review and consider the future. Members have to be focused on courses which help their career building and advancement.
In recent years, the Institute’s CPD seminars and workshops have been grouped into series which provide continuous learning on a particular subject, for example, our IT series launched in 2016, bringing the latest information technology knowledge to our members. We also launched soft skills series in the same year, which aims to help members to sharpen their interpersonal and communication skills, etc. This year, we shall continue these two series. For the IT series, we shall divide them into smaller streams so that members can focus on those relevant to them.
One size does not fit all. Some members prefer to have in-depth knowledge on particular subjects after learning the basics. To help, the Institute offers “seminar/ workshop combo,” providing members with a 1.5 hour seminar to get the basic understanding and knowledge followed by a 3-3.5 hour workshop providing more detailed information, where members interact with facilitators and conduct exercises. Completing the combined package helps members develop the skills they need from scratch.
“Members should seek out CPD courses which meet their goals and long-term needs.”
For more comprehensive coverage and in-depth learning, members should consider programmes such as the Institute’s Financial Controllership Programme and the two professional diplomas in tax for both Hong Kong and Mainland China. It has also cooperated with other professional bodies on various courses, including the “Independent Non-Executive Directors Practices for Accountants” jointly offered with the Hong Kong Institute of Directors. Members who have completed these programmes have found them rewarding, despite the greater time commitment, indeed for some CPAs, they are a cornerstone in their career development.
Active learning, such as role-playing exercises, experience sharing and dialogue with other members, has become an essential part of CPD, and a key component of our Financial Controllership Programme where we have moved away from traditional type of learning in form of lecturing, coursework, etc. Active learning is proven to be a better way of learning, so members are urged to ask questions to engage with the speaker during CPD seminars. We are now exploring rolling out active learning to other CPD courses.
For those members who have attended seminars chaired by me before, they will notice that I try to talk with members before opening to get their input in person. These inputs will be discussed in our subsequent committee meetings for future CPD improvements.
As we start a new year, I encourage our fellow members to visit the CPD’s designated section on the Institute’s website to check out which seminars and workshops better fit their interests and development goals. As we are currently scheduling activities about two to three months ahead, members can find out what is available quite early and create a plan of activities accordingly. Our experience indicates that those who prepare themselves well before the course, actively interact with speakers, and raise questions during the course usually get the most and the best out of it. It can take just a few more minutes before coming in the room.
Development is a personalized experience which has to be customized to individual needs. As nobody knows you better than your good self, it has to be a self-driven process. Your views and opinions on CPD help us develop courses in response to members’ needs. If you have any comments, then please write to me via the Institute any time. I hope you enjoy and get the best out of your CPD courses in 2019!