What Should They Teach Professional Accountants?

Where I live, in order to become a Chartered Accountant (the Canadian equivalent of a CPA), you need the following:

Courses Hours

Financial accounting 15
(introductory, intermediate and advanced)

Cost & management accounting 6

Advanced accounting elective 3

Auditing 9

Taxation 6

Business information systems 3

Finance/financial management 3

Economics 3

Law 3

Total credit hours 51

What do you think? Is the above enough? What skills seem to be lacking in the young accountants work with?

Here’s my wish list:

Communications – how to explain financial information to non financial people, how to present clearly, making a clear case for action, how to organize the lines on a financial statement, how to analyze data so that the analysis leads to a clear course of action.

Working With Data – how to select, filter, sort and present data. How to build a spreadsheet model. How to use a report generator.

Project Accounting – I don’t know why we teach cost accounting but not project accounting. Most of my clients have had some form of project work.

Business Ethics – These days, I think that is self-explanatory. If you don’t start when you are a student, when will you have time for this subject?

Additional Topics Statistics, Interest calculations (discounting, annuities, mortgages) and risk management (including insurance).

What would you add?

5 Comments on “What Should They Teach Professional Accountants?

  1. How about if they either:
    1) cut out all the stuff we will never use, or
    2) present the material in a way we can actually use it!

    I agree with your points re: the gaps. I buried my abacus a long time ago.

  2. Good one, Geoff!

    I don’t know why I had to take calculus in university. If they wanted to give me some tough math to do, a half course in actuarial science would have been more practical. At least Act Sci is all about interest rates.

  3. OMG, first year math – how little of that stuff actually stuck? The Commerce programs generally just mooch off the math departments, but the clever ones must be thinking about breaking free and coming up with better courses. There was talk of doing that with the stats course (mandatory for U of T commerce!) until the ECO department cleaned up their act.

    The data management/analytics course would be HUGE. As would properly learning tips and tricks in Excel, as opposed to stumbling through on the job. It’s madness.

    Some good writing courses wouldn’t hurt either – the UFE just tests for it, but the CICA doesn’t force you to learn it formally. Not sure if that’s wise.

  4. Krupo, thanks for stopping by! I appreciate the views of someone who is closer to the situation than I am.

    Anonymous – That’s cool that those courses are covered. How practical were the courses? Have they helped you in your job?


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