Think back to a year ago as 2019 was coming to a close. The U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team won the World Cup, we learned of a college admissions scandal, and technology continued to advance at an unprecedented pace. Many were looking forward to 2020, the beginning of a new decade.
The first couple of months of the new decade went by fairly smoothly, and then our worlds were rocked by COVID-19. The pandemic resulted in rampant illness and death, shut down life as we know it, crashed our economy, and made working from home the new business-survival model. What many thought would be a few weeks of change turned into months. Soon, we will hit a year. Schools and businesses have closed or turned to online and hybrid solutions. Being resilient and adaptive have become our new norms.
The accounting profession has survived and thrived during this uncertainty as CPAs have become more critical to their clients and businesses as thought leaders and trusted advisers. CPAs will be on the front lines – financial first responders, so to speak – in the economic recovery that follows the pandemic. The PICPA has pivoted to providing virtual events and networking opportunities, and has engaged many more members through these events than we did when they were held in-person.
The onset of COVID-19 stood in the way of many things, but it did not deter the PICPA from our strategy of seeking bold, forward-looking opportunities to strengthen our value proposition to members. Even before the pandemic and the accelerated shift to virtual learning, the PICPA had plans to enhance and build a better platform for online and just-in-time learning for our members. We took a huge step forward in that strategy with the Sept. 1, 2020, announcement of our acquisition of CPA Crossings, a national online provider of continuing education for CPAs.
CPA Crossings provides the PICPA and our members with access to hundreds of webinars and on-demand programs in accounting, auditing, tax, ethics, and technology topics, and a stable of more than 50 subject matter experts who will continue to develop new opportunities for learning as the profession transforms. Adding PICPA’s resources and perspective to CPA Crossings’ tremendous programs and reputation allows us to innovate and keep pace with the accelerating changes affecting CPAs. Our shared purposes and goals align to make this new venture an exciting opportunity for CPAs to adapt and excel in an environment that is becoming wholly dependent on technology.
The PICPA Board unanimously and enthusiastically supported the acquisition. Following a thorough process of financial, legal, and operational due diligence, the Board approved the move. According to Jill Gilbert, PICPA president, “This is a historic event for the PICPA. This acquisition provides significantly more value to our members, elevates the quality of training for all CPAs, and positions the organization for future growth. We are thrilled to make this investment in CPAs.”
CPA Crossings has been a leader in online continuing professional education since it’s founding more than 15 years ago. The team at CPA Crossings works with a talented group of subject matter experts to produce more than 3,000 webinar offerings each year. Because they cover topics that range from the latest tax laws and accounting standards to in-depth, practical courses on Microsoft Office and critical corporate accounting functions, every CPA can benefit from something in the catalog. Each month, CPA Crossings offers free webinars on important tools, like Excel and Office 365. Visit PICPA.org to find a webinar that fits your needs.
It certainly appears that the pandemic will be with us into the new year, and online learning opportunities will continue to expand. The State Board of Accountancy, in fact, has suspended the 50% (40 hours) limitation on individual study CPE for the current biennial period ending Dec. 31, 2021. I hope you will take the opportunity to sample some of the new conference programming we have available early next year, particularly the Technology for Public Accounting Conference on Jan. 7, the Life Sciences and Pharmaceutical Conference on Feb. 9, and the CFOs and Controllers Conference on March 18. If you missed any of our earlier conferences, those sessions are available on-demand.
We have myriad other resources and programs related to the pandemic and its impact on business and the profession, and we are adding updates and new information on a daily basis. I encourage you to review those resources at www.picpa.org/coronavirus.
One of these days, we will all be able to take surviving a pandemic off our to-do list. I have no doubt we are all learning about new ways to thrive during these challenging times and will put those lessons to good use on the other side. If you have any questions or concerns related to COVID-19’s impact on the profession or regulations in Pennsylvania, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or anyone on the PICPA team for assistance. Stay safe, and I will continue to look forward to seeing you in person in 2021!
What have been your 2020 silver linings, and what are you looking forward to in 2021?
Michael D. Colgan, CAE, is CEO and executive director of the PICPA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.