Continuing Education

I received an accounting designation 2 years ago, after around seven years of tedious distance education. For three of the seven years, when the courses I was taking became too difficult to allow for the amount of procrastination I was accustomed to, I had to give up a good portion of my hobbies and interests in order to give myself a chance to pass the courses I had decided to take. As in most schooling I’ve been part of, there were many things that were not applicable to either real life or any accounting work that I’ve come into contact with, but it seemed very important at the time.

As part of my accounting designation, I have to fulfill 40 hours of professional development per year. This year, I took a two day course on auditing standards (was actually better than it sounds) and will probably scrape together enough free webinars offered by financial companies and accounting bodies to fulfill the necessary requirements to keep my license. I don’t mind the learning part, it’s the cost of learning that makes me a little angry – the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada / Ontario essentially have a monopoly on the courses offered now, and price accordingly.

Besides continuing my education for my chosen career, I am also trying to continue to teach myself to be a better investor. I would be the first to admit that I read fewer personal finance and investing books than I did five or six years ago, when I was deep in the middle of creating a personal finance plan for my wife and I. At the time, I read most of the personal finance and investing books that my library had available, trying to sponge up all of the information out there. These days, my intention is to learn more nuance – instead of the previous strategy of “learn everything at a time, and hope that some of it’s right”.

I’m much more comfortable with my financial situation. My wife and I have gotten our monthly expenses to a reasonably low level that allows us to save enough to hopefully achieve our end goal of being financially independent in about nine and a half years. What I need to learn right now and into the future, are ways to limit (as much as possible) investing mistakes that could put my finances in peril. In addition to risk avoidance, my goal is to reduce the opportunity costs of my investment decisions – if there is a more profitable place to put my money, I’d like to at least be aware of it.

So, for now, I have a pretty big list of books that I’m planning on reading, taking notes on and applying (if what has been written makes sense) to my investment decisions. I’m hoping that sometime in the future, I will have less doubt when I make a purchase or sale of a security, but I have a feeling that as I get older and my investment portfolio gets larger, the wariness and worry will probably always be there.

4 thoughts on “Continuing Education”

  1. Hey Dave, keep in mind you only need 20 hours to be verifiable, so you can do things like read and talk to mentors for the other 20 hours. It wasn’t clear to me if you knew from the article since you talked about reading to become a better investor as a separate form of learning, but it would probably count towards your hours.

    I’m surprised that your work doesn’t pay for your training when you have the designation as a qualification for your job.

    1. My work does pay for some of the training, but working for a government agency does cause some difficulties around getting approvals for all forms of training.

      They do however pay my dues every year, so that’s a nice perk.

  2. Actually the requirement is 20 hours, and it’s pretty easy to achieve at a reasonable cost. The amalgamation of the accounting bodies in Ontario brought the cost of courses way, way down, not up. As a CGA, it cost me about $800 a day for development, now through the CPA, you can now buy a package that gives you 3 days for about $1000. Huge savings.

    And there are lots of opportunities outside of the CPA that qualify. You may just find it daunting because you’re new to it! I’ve been a CGA for 23 years, and I’m happy to keep my PD current. And glad that it’s enforced for others. Learning is awesome!

    1. Hi Ramona,

      You’re right – I think it’s just because it’s because it’s a “forced” learning that’s about a week’s worth of work. I haven’t done too bad this year, I took an “auditing refresher” course that counted as 14 verifiable hours – the rest of the verifiable time I’ve picked up in dribs and drabs over time. It’s just one of those things that I need to be aware of from January 1st every year, and not leave it until September to look after.

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