By MIA CPE Compliance Unit
The coronavirus pandemic has indeed affected many of us. It was challenging when the pandemic struck, and in the transitioning period, we strived to adapt to the new normal in many aspects of our daily routine. Nevertheless, professional accountants need to maintain resilience, competence and credibility in carrying out their professional duties during these challenging times. With this in mind, Continuing Professional Education (CPE) plays an important role to enable all professional accountants to keep abreast with the latest developments in the ever-changing accountancy landscape.
Importance of CPE
A competent professional accountant is an invaluable asset to the business ecosystem and entrusted to safeguard the public interest. Hence, professional accountants should take responsibility for their self-development to uphold the value of integrity, accountability, and trust.
CPE is vital to ensure professional accountants continue to be competent throughout their professional career. With well-planned CPE, professional accountants are able to keep abreast of the current developments involving the profession, acquire new skill sets and gain expertise on new developments, which are essential for them to remain relevant in the industry.
The importance of CPE should not be underestimated, as it is a lifelong learning to protect public interest, supports the performance of high-quality service for clients, employers and other stakeholders, and promotes the credibility of the accountancy profession.
Regulation and Governance
As a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), the Institute needs to ensure that members fulfil the CPE requirements as stipulated in the International Education Standard (IES) 7, Continuing Professional Development (Revised) issued by the IFAC. Section B110 of the Institute’s By-Laws lays out the CPE requirements that are in line with IES 7. Members of the Institute are required to undertake and record relevant continuing professional education that develops and maintains professional competence to perform their professional role.
To ensure that members comply with the CPE requirements, CPE audit is conducted annually as a monitoring process in line with the prescribed standards. As a step-up effort in safeguarding the public interest, the Institute has imposed CPE as a mandatory requirement for members to uphold their audit license and practising certificate (PC) status. A periodic review on the CPE status of audit license holders and PC holders is conducted to ensure practitioners comply with the CPE requirements. Where there is no justifiable basis, audit license holders who flout the CPE compliance requirements will not obtain the Institute’s support on their application for audit license renewal to Accountant General and PC holders will not have their PC renewed.
To demonstrate compliance with CPE, all members must undertake a minimum of 20 structured CPE credit hours each calendar year. For renewal as an approved company auditor, a minimum of 10 out of 20 structured CPE hours to be completed by the member each year must be related to International Standards on Quality Control (ISQC1), approved auditing standards, approved accounting standards and/or professional ethics.
Upon application for audit license renewal, the audit license holders must demonstrate compliance with the CPE requirements in the three preceding years. PC holders must demonstrate compliance with CPE requirements for the year prior to PC renewal. For 2021/2022 PC renewal, the CPE requirements for year 2020 will be reviewed.
To ease the CPE hours submission, members may submit their CPE hours and related documents online through the MIA Members Portal. Members are required to upload the related certificates for verification and submit an annual declaration meeting the CPE requirements.
What Counts: Relevant CPE Programmes
A wide range of learning programmes are qualified for CPE credit hours provided that they are relevant to the members’ scope of work and professional responsibilities. To comply with the CPE requirements, the following criteria need to be addressed:
- The learning activities are relevant to their professional career.
- Able to illustrate how the learning activities can be applied in carrying out their professional duties.
- Evidence (e.g. certificate) to support that the member participated in the learning activities.
The Institute provides a wide range of CPE courses to support members’ compliance with CPE requirements. Other CPE learnings may include in-house training organised by employers or external training organised by certified training providers. The structured CPE learnings are stated in Appendix V of the Institute’s By-Laws.
To facilitate CPE record keeping, the CPE credit hours gained by attending the Institute’s CPE courses are automatically uploaded to the Institute’s Members’ Portal upon completion of the course.
Meeting the CPE Requirements: Era of Covid-19
The Institute recognises the challenges encountered by members in adhering to the CPE requirements, especially in the current Covid-19 predicament. With the Covid-19 measures imposed by the Government, face-to-face or classroom training may not be feasible. The Institute has focused on providing greater online support to members in various areas. To support and facilitate members’ CPE Compliance, the Institute has rolled out the MIA Webinar Series and other online courses/ conferences. Members have spontaneously adapted to virtual learning and the Institute has received encouraging responses to the online programmes.
Take Home Message
The Institute undertakes strict compliance of CPE requirements to ensure all members remain competent, especially in the current challenging environment. Members are urged to review and plan their CPE learnings throughout the year and avoid the stress of completing all the CPE activities at the end of the calendar year. Members are advised not to limit their enrolment to specific courses merely to meet the CPE hours requirement and should diversify the CPE learnings according to their technical and functional competency. CPE is essential in enhancing professionalism and ensuring the future relevance of the accountancy profession, which is in line with the Institute’s distinctive vision for nation building.