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CPE isn’t required for CFOs (unless they are CPAs), but should it be?

Scout Young's Profile

Answers

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Consulting CFO and Business Operations A..
Company: Growth Accelerator
(Consulting CFO and Business Operations Advisor, Growth Accelerator) |

Scout,

I've had similar thoughts, but the question "to what end" springs to mind. Staying sharp is important, and I make sure I get in plenty of CPE time. However...CFOs aren't part of an accreditation body (Like CPAs, Lawyers et al). The body forces the practice to keep your cert fresh, and everyone benefits.

I personally would think that there would be value here: you get what you measure to a degree, so continuing education would be worth measuring. As we touch on many aspects that get measured in this manner (CPE and CLE being the most common), much of the body of knowledge is being delivered already. The big question I have is "who will track this, and set the gauge?"

KP

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

This is a two pronged answer.

I agree with Kieth, there is no accreditation body, so no CPE requirement. Not to stay current means that you will not be able to do your job properly. If that works for you job, then great, but somehow I doubt you'll succeed long.

BTW, CPE or should we just say staying current takes many forms, from participating on Proformative to reading the Wall Street Journal and other fine academic and non-academic journals.

The second prong goes to another recent question on Proformative. My answer boiled down to this: Does taking a test or series of tests make you better at your job?

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

Companies love life-long learners.

Sans a CPA and assuming both candidates bring a sold record of contributions, the one who holds an older degree AND continuing education is going to be a more attractive candidate than the one who merely holds a degree from 1960 or 70-something. The perspective is that he has a desire to learn new things and grow versus one who is willing to keep doing the same things and may even be resistant to change.

That perspective may play into the trend we are seeing for a decline of "industry experience" as a prerequisite in hiring external candidates.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

I agree with you Cindy on the ultimate demise of "industry experience", there are people in the hiring process that are stuck on that concept.

I believe it to be more important (echoing your thoughts) that you are current or even cutting edge because that's where what ever business you'll land in will be or will need.

As an consultant I've been in more industries and businesses than I have and you have fingers and toes; all of them were different and none of it really mattered. You can figure out the differences rather quickly most of the time.

But if you are unaware (I'm not saying being an expert) on what's going on, then you are no longer an asset. Case in point are some new HR laws that went into effect last year in NY State, that hasn't completely caught on with many companies.

I'd hate to be the CFO with my head buried when the "man" comes and issues me some big fines for not being in compliance....

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Consulting CFO and Business Operations A..
Company: Growth Accelerator
(Consulting CFO and Business Operations Advisor, Growth Accelerator) |

Cindy,

I'm actually seeing a growth in the need for industry experience...as in really incredibly detailed "have you used these three systems together in the context of this subset of an emerging industry?" This kind of narrowing was recently written up as an example of HR / recruiting applying too so many filters that the fully-vetted candidate set went to zero (which is insane these days....tons of good talent out there).

But I digress: For example, the webinars on Proformative and similar are good touch points. I also try to get into deeper programs like PwC's rev-rec boot camp, which even if you are active in the industry, the rules are changing so quickly that it really requires significant investment to keep up. Having a body to track this *for me* would be valuable to me just like having a trainer at the gym keeping track of your progress. Having an accreditation board (or similar) to let me see how my people or potential hires have kept up would also be very valuable. It is of course not the final metric on talent, but it would be a great tool.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

We are (probably based on our age group) still stuck in the comparison of knowledge equals test taking.

This is a very wrong assumption. So is the assumption (this one is sad) that because you took continuing education (required or not) you were a) taught something or b) learned something. But hey, you do have that certificate of completion!

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

That's interesting, Keith. Perhaps your comments apply to more technical disciplines, but my recent webinar cites a Russell Reynolds or Crist Holder (can't remember which now) where holding the CFO title was actually more marketable for a candidate than industry experience.

Because of that data, I ran a poll in SmartBrief for CFOs last week asking that question. Results were in line with what the seeming trend of the previous survey. Only 42% stayed in the same industry while the balance was split with 39% changing industries completely and 18% moving into a related industry.

http://www.smartbrief.com/news/cfo/poll_result.jsp?pollName=98415A2B-2B94-42B0-8087-088FF7D058B5&issueid=18BCCAE7-185B-483D-A70C-C130C579F3EB

It just goes to show ... in this business, there are no absolutes!

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

I am never in favor of a requirement like the CPE structure, as CFO's do not have a license/certification process. Maybe we should. But with respect to the current set of rules we play under -- If you are going to be successful, continual learning and development is required, either formally or informally. Requiring me to earn a certain number of credits within a certain amount of time just seems adding an administrative burden for no good reason.

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