Indiana CPA Society Announces Historic Development for CPA Profession in Indiana

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Competency-Based Education Adopted for CPA License Renewal

The transformation to a competency-based approach is being seen more frequently at the secondary and higher education levels, and now is the time to introduce it to the professional level as well.

The Indiana Board of Accountancy made history today when it unanimously approved competency-based education to count toward CPA license renewal. It marks the first time in U.S. CPA profession history that competency-based, and not hours-based, education has been permanently approved.

"Today, July 15, is a watershed occasion for the CPA profession not only in Indiana, but nationally as well," said Indiana CPA Society President & CEO Gary Bolinger, CAE. "While this is a significant first step in reforming the CPA license renewal process, we still have a lot to learn as we go forward to ensure relevant education options for CPAs and protection of the public. And make that education more useful, valuable and relevant not only for the CPAs themselves, but in serving their clients and employers."

The rule proposal adds two new options for obtaining the required ethics education that all CPAs licensed in Indiana must get every three years. The first new option is to take a competency-based course, with completion measured by participation, not the length of time it takes to complete. The second new option is to earn credit for experience serving in a non-compensated ethics capacity for a professional or trade organization. The traditional, four-hour classroom course will remain as the third option.

Competency-based learning is a method of education in which participants receive credit by demonstrating the mastery of subject material, instead of by counting hours spent in a classroom. This method also offers other benefits such as flexibility, ability to work at one’s own pace, and personalization. It is learner-focused and viewed as a more effective means of skill development. Continuing professional education in the CPA profession nationwide has been hours-based since becoming required nearly 50 years ago, meaning that education is measured by the number of hours spent in a classroom or webinar.

Indiana's rule proposal was originally introduced as a Notice of Intent in August 2015. It was approved by the Indiana Board of Accountancy in November 2015. After going through the rule promulgation process, it was adopted at today's Public Hearing. The final steps in the process are approval by the Attorney General's Office and signing by Gov. Mike Pence, which are likely to occur within the next 30-45 days.

"The Indiana Board of Accountancy is proud to be a leader in accepting competency-based education for CPA license renewal, and helping to lay the foundation for what we hope becomes a national movement in the profession," said John Kane, CPA, CGMA, the chair of the Indiana Board of Accountancy. "The transformation to a competency-based approach is being seen more frequently at the secondary and higher education levels, and now is the time to introduce it to the professional level as well.

"Using a competency-based approach to ethics education, CPAs will demonstrate that they have both acquired and applied the knowledge they have learned," Kane added. "This is an important step to ensure that CPAs are prepared to meet the challenges of today and the future that exist due to complexity and specialization, and will enable CPAs to both better serve clients and employers while expanding their roles to help make Indiana businesses more successful."

The CPA Center of Excellence®, which is powered by the Indiana CPA Society, has been a leader in creating online competency-based courses for CPAs and other professionals since 2014. Previously, subject material has been focused on vital business skills. But in anticipation of this rule change for the ethics requirement, it has recently developed a competency-based, online interactive course on ethics. The course will soon be available to CPAs who want to take advantage of this new option for ethics education in Indiana.

"The course we’ve developed is both unique and innovative," said CPA Center of Excellence® Strategist Jess Halverson Bowyer. "It was created by experts in ethics education and has been tested and very favorably reviewed by several leading Indiana CPAs. We are excited and proud to offer this product to the CPA profession, and for it to be recognized as the first competency-based course in the history of the CPA profession to officially count for credit."

The rule change is transformative in many ways. Although the CPA Center of Excellence® specializes in competency-based learning, both the CPA Center of Excellence® and the Indiana CPA Society also strongly support experience in the forms of hands-on work, on-the-job training and mentoring as an effective form of education. Experience of this nature has also never counted as credit toward CPA license renewal in Indiana.



The CPA Center of Excellence® was established in 2014 and has quickly become a national and international leader in competency development and skill assessment. It provides leadership, best practices, research, support and training for critical business skills. It has five main components. The Insight HR & Career Development Toolkit, the handbook CPA Excellence A Quick Start Guide to Defining and Mastering Vital Skills for Success, a series of online interactive courses, a multi-featured online community, and member networks in which CPA colleagues interact with each other in person and online.

A new CPA Center of Excellence® event, the Talent Academy, will be offered this fall. It is a five-day training for partners, CFOs and/or those involved in management or human resources to learn award-winning strategies for staff recruitment and retention, appraisal, professional development, succession planning and ultimately revenue growth.

The CPA Center of Excellence® has received numerous state, national and international awards and honors in just two years of existence. This October, the Indiana CPA Society will receive a Power of A Summit Award from the American Society of Association Executives for the CPA Center of Excellence®. It is the highest and most prestigious award given by ASAE.

Also in 2016, the Insight toolkit was named as a Top New Product by Accounting Today. And, an article written by CPA Center of Excellence® advisor David Griffiths, Ph.D., was selected as the Top Management Article of the Year by the U.K.-based Chartered Management Institute. The article described Griffiths’ work with an Indiana CPA firm through the CPA Center of Excellence®.

In 2015, the CPA Excellence handbook was named to Accounting Today’s Summer Reading List for Accountants. And, in 2014, the CPA Center of Excellence® received a STAR Award from the Indiana Society of Association Executives as the Outstanding Individual Program.

The components of the CPA Center of Excellence® complement each other but are also beneficial when used separately. The toolkit is just the starting point. The book is a planning guide and framework for human resource strategies that contribute to talent development in non-technical skills such as communications and critical thinking. The online interactive courses have elements of social, competency-based, interactive and on-demand learning, and the knowledge they develop supports the rest of system. The online community and member networks enable CPAs to share knowledge and further develop skills.

The CPA Center of Excellence, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana CPA Society. Its products and services are relevant to CPAs not only in Indiana, but throughout the United States, as well as to accounting professionals globally..

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Elise May

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