Working professionals need to regularly acquire new skills and knowledge to advance their careers. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is non-negotiable in fields such as accounting, and highly beneficial in most others. Let’s take a look at CPD and explore the reasons behind its importance in today’s workplace.
WHAT IS CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT?
CPD is a term used to describe learning activities that professionals take part in to develop and enhance their skills. This could include courses, workshops, informal learning opportunities, or vocational education that helps to expand knowledge or add new skills related to a chosen career.
In addition, anyone who works in a sector that is formally regulated (such as accounting, health, engineering, and law, to name a few) is likely to have CPD requirements that are compulsory to fulfil. In other cases, home study courses are often an effective way to kick-start CPD. Courses that you can study in your own time are highly valuable for helping you stay relevant and for boosting your value to potential employers.
CPD also includes some activities that you may well be doing already, such as reading this blog post or learning from your mistakes.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CPD
It has been widely recognised that qualifications need to be supported by ongoing skills-based or practical learning. Here are some of the benefits of CPD:
CPD ENSURES YOU CAN UPSKILL THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER
Engaging in CPD ensures that your qualifications never become outdated. You can continually upskill yourself and update your existing skills, no matter your age, occupation, or educational level.
CPD LETS YOU TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR OWN DEVELOPMENT
CPD is a process normally driven by you – not your employer or anyone else. Unlike traditional learning, it requires a conscious, proactive approach. Through CPD, you’re able to see how far you’ve come, reflect on what you’ve learned and plug up any gaps in your knowledge or experience. You’ll also be building a portfolio of skills that you can show to employers or clients.
CPD ALLOWS YOU TO ADAPT TO THE EVOLVING WORKPLACE
The industries of today never stand still: change is occurring faster than ever. Employees have to keep up with the rapid pace of change brought about by advances in technology; they have to adapt quickly to their new circumstances. While qualifications alone used to be the main factor when hiring someone, strong CPD credentials attract equal attention today.
CPD KEEPS YOUR CAREER EXCITING
All careers offer the opportunity to learn something new. Without exploring these opportunities, there’s a good chance that you’ll become uninterested in your work over time. Learning about multiple aspects of your particular career is not only beneficial for your future, but for your morale and confidence too.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH CPD
If you’re a member of a professional body, you’ll normally need to complete a certain number of CPD hours to retain membership. This may be a straightforward process, but to truly realise the power of CPD, you need to actively pursue it. You can start the CPD process by following these steps:
1) Keep a learning log to record your thoughts and insights on any areas you’re learning about. You can then reflect on these experiences, and see what you’ve learnt from them and how they could possibly be explored further.
2) Ask yourself where you are in your career and where you want to be. You can then start identifying how to get there through CPD.
3) Make sure you know whether there are any compulsory CPD requirements that you have to fulfil for your current position or professional memberships, and set aside time to meet them.
4) Seek out CPD training activities that meet your personal learning needs. Distance learning, online courses and webinars are a great place to start. Some employers may even contribute to CPD plans, so take advantage of this if you can. Investigate informal CPD methods too. Reading blogs and books, learning from a colleague in the workplace, or finding out about new technology can all be part of the practical CPD process.
5) Take on roles outside the workplace. Activities outside the workplace can provide you with valuable transferable skills that can be applied to your career. For example, you could develop your leadership skills by coaching a school sports team, or you could develop your organisational skills by becoming a club secretary.
Once you’ve developed your plan and the CPD process is underway, you can review your progress every three, six, or twelve months.
By committing to CPD, you’re committing to constant improvement. It may seem like hard work, but it can be plenty of fun, too, and the rewards for your career are well worth the effort.
Did you know? ICBA members can earn free verifiable CPD points when watching the Monthly ICBA webinars. Click here for more information on CPD.
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No matter which industry you are in, from labour occupations to positions that require a PhD cape, there is a professional body geared for you. But in this online world, are they still relevant? The answer is unequivocally, yes! Whether you’re looking to gain first-hand expertise, network with industry leaders or add extra credibility to your resume, joining a professional body today is a powerful career move!
If you’re still on the fence, here are 5 Reasons to Join a Professional Body:
1. Knowledge is Power
Who doesn’t want to be top in their field? Broaden your knowledge and expertise with access to informative webinars, workshops and exhibitions. This will keep you up to date with the latest industry innovations and trends and ultimately enhance your professional development. Of course, staying ahead of the competition is an added bonus!
Furthermore, most professional bodies offer free resources in the form of guides, industry forums and newsletters.
2. Network like a Mover and Shaker
Get out those business cards! It’s common knowledge- making connections is vital to career progression. Joining professional bodies and associations provide countless opportunities to network with industry leaders and relevant parties. Conversation flows easily with likeminded people in an environment that promotes the interchange of information. The relationships built can be very valuable long-term.
3. Show you Mean Business
Being a member of a professional body adds credibility. Why is this? Most institutions have a thorough assessment process that applicants must pass before they are granted membership. Membership acts as confirmation that you have reached a certain level of expertise in your profession and are qualified. Importantly, it also shows you take your career seriously, reassuring employers and clients that you are committed to your professional development.
Furthermore, many professional associations come with the added benefit of a designation- letters after your name. This title adds professionalism and a certain stature to a name.
4. Career Opportunities
Take advantage of career resources and the hidden job market! Professional bodies often have targeted job listings available to their members or access to positions that are not yet advertised. You never know when you will run into someone who knows someone else who’s hiring! This boosts your chances of getting hired in a line of work you love.
Plus! Listing membership in a professional body is an excellent addition to a CV.
5. Make Friends
A perhaps overlooked and underappreciated benefit of joining professional bodies, is the simple act of making new friends! These bodies provide an opportunity to escape the confines of your comfort zone and meet new, interesting people. Think of it this way…. you already have something in common!
Looking to join a financial professional body? The ICBA is a professional body for bookkeepers, accountants, office administrators and financial managers in Southern Africa. For more information, visit www.icba.co.za.
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Automation and digitisation are big trends in scaling up companies. Streamlining your processes goes a long way towards building a successful and investable company. Very real progress in the field of cloud accounting is allowing business owners to do more, faster. This progress is resulting in incredible jumps in growth and profitability potential.
While the entrepreneurial journey requires passion and perseverance, the right systems are key for success. Accounting and software are not always the most exciting words in an entrepreneur’s vocabulary. However, a deeper look into the benefits of cloud accounting clearly makes it an attractive option for any company looking to scale up.
What is cloud accounting?
Cloud accounting refers to using cloud-based software to run the accounting arm of a business. This kind of software is making accounting faster, easier and making data more accessible to key role players than ever before.
More and more companies are seeing the value of taking this essential step in scaling for rapid growth. This new approach is beginning to replace the old desktop versions of accounting software at a rapid rate. And for good reason!
Here are the top seven reasons why your business should be run in the cloud:
Live access to financial informationEasy access to financial information is something that has frustrated business owners for decades. Critical business decisions have to be made on accurate and real-time data.
One of the biggest advantages of cloud accounting software is its ability to link directly to your company’s bank feeds. By linking up with your bank, transactions are being pulled through from the bank straight into the accounting software.
What does this mean for your business?
This means no more uploading of bank statements, saving you and your staff a lot of time.
It also means live access to your financial information. All bank transactions as well as all debtor and supplier invoices are captured within the cloud system. Your financial info will always be up to date.
Business owners and management can now monitor sales, cash flow, debtors, financial targets, payables and more at any time.
All this has never been possible before in the history of doing business. It will play a massive role in allowing entrepreneurs to make fast, informed decisions, leading to more effective businesses.
Work from any device from anywhere in the worldCloud accounting is making the traveller lifestyle possible.
Owners of fully digitised companies are able to work from anywhere in the world, making extended travel much easier. Co-working and co-living spaces like Roam (www.roam.co) are a testament to this trend. Cloud accounting plays a huge role in enabling this doing-business-from-anywhere lifestyle. No longer bound to a specific computer at the office, cloud accounting software allows you to access your financials from any device with an internet connection, anywhere in the world.
Beautiful, fast, customised reporting and analyticsA simple, summarised, easy-to-read management report is a rare find in business today. There are a lot of reporting tools out there, but few of them give a good overview of what is really happening in a business.
With access to live financial information, producing great management reports can be as simple as pushing a button, if set up correctly. The leading cloud systems have strong reporting tools that can create graphs, variance reports, key metrics and many other financial snapshots to form a financial dashboard for your company.
Beautifully presented, these reports and dashboards give even the least financially savvy director an edge when it comes to being on top of company finance. Powerful dashboards can be customised to help all participants in a business track key performance metrics in an easy-to-read snapshot.
Direct link to your advisors, investors and boardHaving trusted advisors as part of managing company finance is key. Your investors and directors are going to make key decisions based on the numbers and data you present them with. Therefore it is essential that they have access to correct, real-time data.
With functions that allow you to invite your advisors to access your company’s cloud accounting profile, both you and your team of professionals will now have a complete bird’s eye view into your of company finances.
What does this mean for your business?
Your team all receive a full live view of company finances.
You receive the best possible strategic direction to the business.
Investors, directors and managers receive complete peace of mind.
Auto-allocations through machine learningThis is the most exciting growth area of cloud accounting software.
It is able to recognise recurring transactions in order to auto-allocate them. Learning from millions of accounts being process all over the world, the software is also able to allocate transactions into their correct accounts. After just a few months of using it, your actual manual allocations should be less than 20% of all transactions.
As this function increases in strength, bookkeeping work will diminish. Entrepreneurs will be able to focus on doing business, not recording it. Accountants will be able to focus on value-adds and working in an advisory capacity instead of capturing transactions.
All the advantages of cloud technologyCloud-tech beats desktop software six-love every time.
Top-end encryption ensures that data security is taken care of. Data accessibility is instant, with no barriers to accessing key financial information. All of the physical risks to information – like a computer crashing, being stolen or having coffee spilt over it – are completely eliminated. Data also does not corrupt as in the case the offline versions of desktop software.
With cloud software, business owners now have complete access to all the great benefits and advantages of running a business on the cloud.
Save time and reduce hasslesScaling your business for growth takes time. But you won’t have this kind of time if you are stuck in the trenches of your business. Freeing up founder time is key to unlocking further growth in a company.
An automated finance function is a great time-saver. Accounts are captured faster and with less hassle. Source documents are uploaded digitally, which will help you save time on those dreaded audit queries. Everything works in a paperless environment. You eliminate the hassle of keeping slips and invoices that leave your wallet and desk full of last month’s paperwork.
Xero: cloud accounting software for scalable growth
At Outsourced CFO, we have partnered with Xero as our leading cloud accounting weapon of choice. Xero is a New Zealand-based accounting software technology company that is taking over the world.
Plugged into entrepreneurial eco-systems worldwide, they are currently the leading solution for SMEs in the marketplace. Their products include all of the above advantages of cloud accounting and more. We’d recommend them to any entrepreneurs who wish to streamline their company’s accounting function.
We live in exciting times, with new technology making our lives as entrepreneurs easier. But even with the best tech, it is still all about the people behind it. You need great people to assess, implement and advise in order to unlock the power of cloud accounting software. Get in touch with our team of professionals today to learn more about how you can rethink, automate and scale your company using Xero and other top financial technologies.
Scaling for growth: When is the right time to call in an OCFO?
How do you know when it’s the right time to shift gears in business? There are a number of indicators that it may be time to call in the help of the experts:
Is your company on the forefront of tech and innovation?
Are you staying up to speed with developments in AI, cryptocurrency, digitalisation and the Internet of Things?
Is your turnover growing rapidly? Do you want to engineer your business to be even more profitable?
Do you want to have live access to your company financial information and key metrics to help you make fast, informed decisions?
Are you wanting to attract an investor soon?
If the answer is yes to all of the above, it sounds like you are ready to scale your business for growth.
This significant shift into a new gear will require you to adjust to a new pace. Markets and business models are changing at a rapid rate. This means that scaling up companies like yours have to be faster, sharper and ahead of the competition. These new business opportunities will also entail new risks to be considered. In other words, there will be more i’s to dot, more t’s to cross and more complexities to navigate.
Scaling up and the CFO
One of the key role players to help your business navigate this new arena and come out on top is your chief financial officer – the CFO. The CFO has their finger on the pulse of your company cash flow, your financial strategy and mitigation of risk. They hold the financial reigns, making sure that your business operates on the best systems, like cloud accounting. They also ensure that your business can raise your future growth finance.
At this point in the scale-up phase, a full-time CFO might not be necessary for your company. You will likely only need one once you start making tens of millions in revenue. But you still need CFO expertise during the scale-up phase: your business is growing rapidly, but won’t be able to handle the burden of a full-time CFO. Nevertheless, it is important to navigate this phase properly and effectively.
The solution? An outsourced CFO. This is your go-to financial expert who will be able to offer expert advice and strategies for your rapidly growing business. An outsourced CFO will help you take your business to the next level.
Step into the arena with other successful, scaling companies
Is it time to get the experts in? Your scaling up business can’t afford to skip this critical step towards success. Don’t get left out in the cold while your competitors cash in on your customers. Building a successful business is incredibly difficult, and the odds aren’t always in your favour. What places you in the category of other successful business owners is the vision you’ve cast for yourself and your business. Your purpose and vision is far bigger than the obstacles you are facing. Don’t let that vision die, just because you didn’t think to ask for help.
So there are so many good reasons to start thinking about enlisting the help of the experts. Join a growing group of successful entrepreneurs who are now raising hundreds of millions from millions. These are the forward-thinking people who are placing the growth of their business into the hands of capable experts, like Outsourced CFO.
More about Louw Barnardt and Outsourced CFO
Louw Barnardt CA(SA) is the founder of Outsourced CFO, a financial management company that renders CFO and cloud accounting services to emerging tech and innovation companies.
Outsourced CFO helps ambitious SMEs build scalable companies through the provision of strategy and high level financial management. We believe that a growing company has the power to change the lives of the entrepreneur, their family, their staff and the community in which they operate.
Through Outsourced CFO, we have helped many entrepreneurs on the road to giving life to their dream companies. We have seen multiple stages of growth funding and investment into many young, tech-savvy companies, as well as the impact that this makes in their lives.
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