With end of financial year (EOFY) fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to plan your professional development spend for the year ahead. Here’s how to get started.
When you’re juggling the demands of running your business and looking after your clients, it can be easy to overlook your professional development needs.
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But in a constantly evolving industry, industry events and conferences provide excellent opportunities to keep up with emerging trends and technologies — and find out how they could impact your firm. What’s more, attending these events allows you to earn needed continued professional development (CPD) points, while also growing your professional network.
That’s why it’s worth taking some time at the beginning of the financial year to make a professional development plan for you and your staff. But chances are your budget won’t stretch to cover every event you’d like to attend — so keep in mind some online training options, which are another way you can invest in the future of your firm.
Step 1: Plan your budget
To ensure your professional development dollars are well-spent, figure out how to allocate your budget most effectively according to your firm’s needs. Depending on where your business is at, this could mean a focus on gaining specialist knowledge, building the practical skills of your staff, or boosting your industry connections. One way to work out where the gaps are is to analyse your needs based on feedback from your clients and employees.
After you’ve identified the key areas for improvement, weigh up the potential benefits of each professional development option against how much your business can afford to spend. It’s important to take a long-term view, but make sure you put your most important and urgent needs first. This will help you prioritise specific training activities that will boost productivity and performance across your firm.
Step 2: Choose your events
Once you’ve worked out your budget and priorities, take a look at the industry events happening in your region and around the country for the year ahead. The hot topics for FY17 include SMSFs and innovative technologies — and here are just some of the many events that will be held in the months ahead.
August 2016: SMSF Association State Technical Conference (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth)
The 12th annual State Technical Conference will take you on an SMSF journey — using real-life client scenarios and practical ideas to explore the impacts of different strategies on your clients’ lives.
September 2016: Xerocon South (Brisbane)
Brisbane is hosting Xero’s 2016 Xerocon event, which will be packed with cloud accounting strategies and insights that you can apply within your business.
October 2016: Accountants Technology Showcase Australia (Melbourne)
Australia’s only dedicated technology event for accountants, ATSA is the place to discover new business-enhancing software and directly compare offerings from different suppliers
November 2016: SMSF Adviser Technical Strategy Day (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane)
This is an event not to be missed for accountants and advisers looking to build on their technical expertise and learn best-practice strategies for growing and protecting their clients’ wealth.
February 2017: SMSF Members Association National Conference (Melbourne)
Hear from technical experts and strategists about the outlook for global investing, long with the other key topics that are trending across the industry.
2016–2017: National events – Professional bodies
Events and training coordinated by your professional body offer great opportunities to hone skills, gain industry insights and connect with your accounting peers. Check with your professional affiliation their annual schedule for their national and regional calendars.
Step 3: Train at the office
If you're looking to keep your professional development costs down, why not explore your online training options? As well as using e-learning to meet your mandatory education obligations, there are plenty of specialised training modules and webinars you can sign up for.
A quick Google search will uncover a wealth of information, so you can choose the right e-learning solutions for you and your staff. Some training packages include a mix of online and face-to-face learning, with options to participate in forums and group discussions.
So even if your professional development budget won’t stretch to cover your entire conference wish list, don’t despair. There are plenty of ways to build your technical knowledge and keep up with industry developments from the comfort of your office.