CPA Alberta has been busy evolving its professional development (PD) opportunities, from finding ways to support members during COVID-19 to rolling out this year’s Passport program, from introducing new seminar topics to shifting to a more online focus.
To provide all the information and details, we caught up with Bronwen Webster, CPA Alberta’s Director, Member Products and Services, whose team is responsible for the organization’s PD offerings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has effected many organizations, including accounting and finance professionals. How is CPA Alberta, through its PD program, supporting members during this uncertain time?
“From a programming perspective, we want to ensure we provide Alberta CPAs with an opportunity to experience relevant and timely PD, but not add to the financial burden CPAs and organizations are experiencing. So, we worked with our online providers to develop a series of free courses on COVID-19 related topics, such as dealing with a cash crisis, navigating financial uncertainty, risk management, and coping with stress. Sessions are held online, with live offerings recorded and also made available on-demand,” says Bronwen.
The team promptly recognized the need to transition any in-person seminars to online formats early on during the pandemic, explains Bronwen. That evolution will continue in the future.
“Our program has always had a significant online presence, and pursuing a more robust online strategy was always part of our plans. This strategy is now a top priority as we look to maintain quality PD products and learning experience with an online delivery.”
They are also leveraging their existing instructors to transition in-person seminars to online. The team is providing “train the trainer” support when needed, and exploring new ways to deliver sessions without losing the value of discussions, group work, and dialogue.
To further assist those effected by COVID-19, Bronwen reminds CPAs that the Reduced Fee Savings Program is available for those who have qualified for a reduction in member fees, which extends to the individual’s PD, as well.
“For those who qualify for the program, we offer a discount on most PD products, as well as the Personal Pass or Mini Personal Pass,” says Bronwen.
More information on the program can be found on the CPA Alberta website here.
Some CPAs may be curious what PD will look like the rest of the year?
“The future is still a little unknown as we all navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19. We will reintroduce our in-person sessions when it’s safe to do so and when we can ensure an exceptional learning experience,” says Bronwen. “Challenge and crisis often produce innovation and this is no exception to the PD area. Over the last three years we’ve seen a general trend to more online delivery, and COVID-19 has pushed us to focus more in this space. We will continue to evolve CPA Alberta’s online delivery and explore blended learning options that includes in-person sessions.”
So, for those interested in CPA Alberta conferences or Executive Programs, they will still be offered. However, digital options are being explored, both in whole and in part, to ensure the value, benefit, and quality of learning of the programs is enhanced.
Bronwen adds, “some offerings may need to be delayed further into the year than originally planned, but they will be back—likely better than before!”
The team has also been busy working on this year’s Passport program. Can you briefly explain the program and where can CPAs expect to see savings?
“The Passport program allows the pre-purchase of PD at what is essentially a bulk discount,” says Bronwen. “By purchasing and using any of the PD passes, savings of up to 35% can be had on all Passport-valid seminars, webinars, and conferences. And, if a pass is purchased using the early bird rate, which is available until September 4, savings will be maximized.”
There are three types of flexible and accessible passes for people to choose from. These passes include:
- Personal Pass – up to six full days (or 42 hours) of PD exclusively for the Passport holder
- Mini Personal Pass – up to three full days (or 21 hours) of PD exclusively for the Passport holder
- Share Pass – up to six full days (or 42 hours) of PD shareable with anyone in the purchaser’s network, including colleagues, stakeholders, committee members, friends, and family.
For those on the fence about purchasing a Passport, can you share more of the benefits?
“With a pass, someone is able to easily meet their yearly Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hour requirements—Mini Personal Pass contains tickets equivalent to 21 hours of PD. That provides a way to budget and plan professional development for an entire year through one purchase,” explains Bronwen.
Passport holders are encouraged to use their passes to fit their unique needs. Each pass can be used for any combination of webinars, online learning, half or full-day PD, or conferences. Those who purchase a Share Pass can even split the cost with another CPA, organization, or within their organization.
As an added bonus, this year’s PD Passports are available for use immediately (as opposed to the normal September 1 start date). That means this year’s Passport holder has an additional four months to use up the value of their pass.
More details on the PD Passport are available by visiting: https://activities.cpaalberta.ca/CpaCePortal/pd-seminars/cpapdportal/Passport.
For those looking for learning opportunities, are there any new or hot online seminars or offerings?
“Ethics is a popular topic right now, as Alberta CPAs are preparing to meet the new ethics requirement that will be mandatory. The ‘Ethical Dilemma’ seminar was built for CPAs specifically and was based on research from our Conduct and Discipline area,” says Bronwen.
Bronwen also emphasizes the importance of technology and innovation in the accounting profession.
“Because of where the world and the accounting profession is headed, this topic very much in demand. We are also in the early stages of adding more targeted or sector-specific seminars. A targeted course we currently offer is Renewable Energy – Solar Financial Modeling, but there are more to come,” adds Bronwen.
Search the PD Portal for the full range of CPA Alberta PD options! If there are topics you would like to suggest, a challenge you are dealing with, or if you’re interested in teaching a program as an instructor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.