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September 29, 2009

ACCA online training product helps members optimise CPD

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has launched an online training resource to help finance professionals plan their careers and optimise their continuing professional development (CPD).

ACCA COMPASS assesses core competencies and abilities.

On one level it allows members to benchmark their skills against a given role at various levels of experience and create career development pathways.

On a second level it enables employers to analyse their finance function, decide on the roles and level of competence they need for their business, then assess each department and role against the benchmark they have set. They can then target activity such as restructuring, staff development and talent management towards obtaining the right levels of ability.

ACCA acting director of professional development Tony Osude said the drive behind developing the tool dates back to the mandatory CPD requirements introduced by the International Federation of Accountants for professional accountants in 2005.

“It became clear between 2005 and 2008 that there was a need to help people make a greater connection between the CPD activities they were undertaking, their career progression and the immediate needs of their role,” he said.

Therefore, in 2008, the ACCA surveyed its members to find out what the precise issues were around CPD.

The first thing members were looking for was “how do I get the biggest bang for my buck”.

Secondly, many members wanted a much more structured approach to their planning in terms of combining both short-term and long-term benefits.

Thirdly, they wanted better diary management; finally, they wanted a link with career development.

“[ACCA COMPASS] is about helping them make the link between development they do for their day-to-day role and also development they need to go onto the next step, which may be up the career ladder, but also about moving across into a different service line or industry,” Osude explained.

There was a correlation between the less planning someone did and the less they got in return for CPD.

“The more time you spend planning what you are going to do by way of CPD, even for your short-term needs, the more likely you are to get much more out of it. Certainly for the longer term you need to plan very much ahead,” Osude said.

The benchmarks were set based on conversations with employers and members, as well as information obtained from a member training needs analysis the ACCA runs each year.

The institute also used consultants from UK accountancy group Tenon and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

While the ACCA and the consultants set benchmarks for specific service lines and industries, users can customise these to match the nature of particular roles.

Osude said the product is the only one of its kind that is tailored specifically to accountants.

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