Professional Development Plans are like oxygen to accounting firms: without them, it’s impossible to grow your accounting business. Or to persuade the best performers in your team to stay and attract the A-team that will keep driving your firm forward.
What is a Professional Development Plan (PDP) and how will it help your accounting firm? It’s a tailored action plan that helps individuals identify both their strengths and skills gaps, and then maps out how they can develop the new skills they need to grow their career.
More than an investment in upskilling your accounting team, a PDP is a high-impact move that will benefit your business both immediately and in the long term. But it needs to rest on an honest understanding of what your firm, the team players within it and your clients need.
Train beyond transactions
When handled well, PDPs can be seen as employers’ investment in their development with employees. It can be a clear signal that the leaders of accounting firms value their teams’ growth and business success.
Yes, PDPs and online accounting courses do require investments in time, money, and attention.
But newly gained technical skills make employees more productive. More importantly, growth makes individuals feel more fulfilled—even if growth often starts with the discomfort and uncertainty of stepping outside one’s comfort zone.
In 2021, McKinsey surveyed 5,774 employees across different industries in Australia, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States to find out why record numbers had quit their jobs or were thinking of doing so.
Four out of every 10 white-collar workers said they were “somewhat likely” to leave their job in the next three to six months.
Here’s a clear disconnect. Employers believed that their workers were quitting in search of more money or for reasons of health or wellbeing. These employers saw The Great Resignation in transactional terms: pay people more and give them more perks if you want them to stay.
But what employees wanted, that the survey showed, was to feel valued by their managers and the companies they worked for.
They wanted to see greater potential for advancement where they worked.
In our experience at the Ab² Institute of Accounting, PDPs work best when these are anchored on a detailed diagnostic of each client’s people, their capabilities and their firm culture—and aligned with each team member’s role and career goals.
Upskilling your accounting team shows that you do more than see and appreciate what they bring to your business. You want to build a working relationship that makes ample room for collective brilliance and growth—both their growth as professionals and your growth as a leader.
Train for transformation
Such a relationship is a must if you want your accounting firm to become more relevant and your team members to become more capable of embracing change.
Entry-level accountants today are expected to handle responsibilities that used to belong to more senior accountants.
The challenge goes beyond training the accountants and auditors of the future. Training present-day professionals matters just as much. In their report “Building Capable Finance Teams”, CPA Australia pointed out the urgent need for learning and development strategies that can:
- empower individual accounting and finance professionals to assess themselves and plan their futures.
- “position an accounting and finance team as a source of trusted advice that understands the business.”
- provide more stability over time by paving the way for continuing improvements in recruitment, training and communication.
Accountants now need more than a good understanding of accounting, audit, and tax. They need to pay attention to emerging technologies that will continue to reshape the industry. They need to gain a confident grasp of data analytics and visualisation.
Access to online accounting courses and the ability to earn updated accounting qualifications can spell the difference between a career that’s stalled and one that’s flourishing.
As accounting technology matures, it will continue to empower accountants to broaden their services and deepen their skill sets.
Artificial intelligence, blockchain, distributed ledger technology and other developments will also keep creating new opportunities.
For accountants and accounting firms who see transformation as more than a barrage of threats, the times we live in are transformative. Accountants who value their career and life goals and proactively work towards these have a mindset that welcomes transformation. And this mindset can be taught!
For business leaders, Professional Development Plans for accounting firms are a must-have tool that will transform your team.
Train to grow problem-solving in teams
Just how transformative can effective professional development be?
It’s the difference between accounting teams who feel overloaded and overwhelmed—and accounting teams who provide valuable advice and problem-solve consistently.
Accounting software has limited the need for manual data entry and enabled organisations to process large amounts of data much faster. Changes in the practice of accounting moved faster during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even as the Covid-19 crisis slowed down supply chains globally, it also sped up digital transformation in accounting.
What this means for accounting firms and accountants: in addition to new technical skills, the need for leadership, communication skills, creative problem-solving, and an ethical mindset are greater than ever.
Competent, Proficient or Expert: Which of These Finance and Accounting Skills are in Your Firm’s Wheelhouse?
At Ab2 Institute of Accounting (Ab²), our PDPs rest on four pillars. Each plan combines courses on technical, success, and leadership skills with essential compliance knowledge to help accounting teams at all levels deliver to the best of their abilities.
Learners can choose from a comprehensive collection of professional topics covered in-depth by industry professionals. They can get certified in tax law, accounting software, and other valuable technical skills, as well as learn about essentials like mental fitness, commercial awareness, and effective teamwork.
Connect with us today if you’re curious about a Professional Development Plan designed specifically for your accounting team. We tailor packages to fit your firm’s needs by taking the time to understand your business, its roadblocks, and the best way forward.