Investing in people is the oft-repeated solution for the talent shortage experienced by professional services organizations. Even though automation has simplified the compliance process, the accounting business remains very much a relationship-based one. To keep clients coming back, a firm must demonstrate the ability to help its people stay current with industry and regulatory changes.
Today’s top firms understand this and are increasingly investing in training for accounting staff to develop a generation of forward-looking professionals. If your firm isn’t already offering a mix of accounting training courses and other learning opportunities, then you’ve fallen behind. Now is the time to catch up.
Why is continuing education important for serving accounting firm clients?
Empowering your team with the latest skills, toolsets, and mindsets is key to keeping productivity high. In our fast-paced business world, accuracy is no longer enough — clients want answers quickly too. To nurture key client relationships, you’ll need to provide the best service, and this means solving their problems better and faster than anyone else can.
Now more than ever, clients are also looking for their advisors to anticipate industry and regulatory challenges ahead of time so they can make strategic rather than reactive business decisions. Accounting and tax professionals must be proactive in finding out what lies around the corner, and a robust training program for accounting staff is crucial for firms to stay one step ahead.
Why is continuing education important for accounting professionals?
Of course, clients are not the only ones to benefit when firms implement learning initiatives.
Far more than just helping team members to earn CPE credits, a thoughtful learning and development strategy can inspire engagement and passion for the profession itself. By leveraging learning opportunities such as accounting seminars, webinars, courses, and conferences, team members can:
- Hone knowledge and skills. Experienced experts can guide staff to navigate evolving regulations and adopt best practices to improve their service delivery. When team members are adequately equipped with the right tools and knowledge, they’re well placed to deliver client services with greater confidence and motivation. They’re more likely to feel a sense of ownership and take pride in their work too.
- Be part of a like-minded community. Through developing peer relationships within and outside the firm, staff can gain insight and expertise into the latest trends while sharing the challenges they’re facing with people who understand.
- Form strategic relationships. Networking with people from different teams offers a glimpse into other business areas and how they operate. Staff considering a job change might find it helpful to uncover career paths available within your firm.
- Develop new interests. With the variety of professional courses available these days, accountants can embrace lifelong learning and explore a new technical area or accounting for a different industry.
Supporting staff with their learning shows you care about them and their career development — which is crucial to both retaining them and attracting new talent.
How accounting firms can promote continuing education and training
To promote a culture of learning, firms should ensure all staff are up to date with CPE requirements and if possible, cover a portion of the cost. Staff are more likely to take up accounting training courses and development opportunities if you show some flexibility. Top firms are increasingly giving staff some leeway in choosing their paths and completing training the way they like, whether that’s in person, online, individually, or in group settings.
There are two main ways you can support staff from a training perspective:
- Investing in a robust training package. Tax and accounting training solutions like Checkpoint Learning from Thomson Reuters provides you with high-quality learning materials, access to over 200 self-study CPE courses, and convenient online webinars so your staff can upskill from just about anywhere. From the general to the niche, there are a variety of professional courses to choose from. With Checkpoint Learning, you can create your own in-house training program from a library of topics to match your organization’s needs, then have someone in your firm or an experienced instructor from Thomson Reuters facilitate these sessions. Kickstarting your firm’s training this way saves both time and effort. It’s also budget friendly as staff can be trained in the office and you can have greater control over costs.
- Sending staff to accounting seminars. Attending tax and accounting seminars and conferences is a great way for staff to learn from experts, network, and experience knowledge as well as personal growth. By having team members at these events, other attendees can find out more about your firm and see the faces behind your business. Staff can ignite their passion, bring a fresh perspective back into the office, and share new ways of doing things. Thomson Reuters SYNERGY User Conference offers four days of fun and interactive learning with over 50 speakers and 100 experts. For those looking to shore up their tax skills, Gear Up from Thomson Reuters provides in-person and live online seminars in addition to self-study courses.
Now is the time to put together a training program for your accounting staff. Learn more about how you can enhance your team’s knowledge, keep them engaged, and improve client service. Explore Checkpoint Learning today.