As communicated throughout 2019 and 2020 to members, the new CPD policy came into effect on 1 January 2020. The most significant shift in the CPD policy was the move from measuring CPD activities on the input basis (hours) to the output basis (competence). The changes to the CPD policy also remove the granting of exemptions. Members who were previously granted an exemption from the CPD policy need to take note that exemptions are no longer granted under the new CPD policy.
The reason why no exemptions are granted in the new CPD policy is because the need for ongoing learning and development needs to be considered in the context of the members personal circumstances which may be subject to change. Therefore, at the very least all members are required to complete the annual declaration. This declaration will ask specific questions which will guide members in assessing whether they are professionally active or not.
What is a professional accountant?
SAICA’s Code of Professional Conduct identifies two types of professional accountants:
A professional accountant in business working in areas such as commerce, industry, service, the public sector, education, the not-for-profit sector, or in regulatory or professional bodies, who might be an employee, contractor, partner, director (executive or non-executive), owner-manager or volunteer
A professional accountant in practice, irrespective of functional classification (for example, audit, tax or consulting) in a firm that provides professional services
What does being ‘professionally active’ mean?
According to the SAICA Code of Professional Conduct, members are ‘professionally active’ when they are doing an activity requiring accountancy or related skills undertaken by a professional accountant, including auditing, review, other assurance and related services; accounting; tax; management consulting; and financial management. This includes professional accountants in business and in public practice.
In considering whether you as a member are professionally active, you will need to apply your mind in the context of the role CAs(SA), AGAs(SA) and ATs(SA) play in society and their commitment to uphold the public interest.
The CPD policy therefore requires all members to consider their need to undertake lifelong learning activities in relation to their role and personal circumstances. Therefore, even if your current role does not fit the definition above, you still need to declare annually whether you are compliant with the CPD policy or not. For example, members who fulfil roles that are outside of the financial services sector, or members who are retired but still act as directors on boards or governance committees, are required to comply with the CPD policy.
Once guided by the questions on the annual declaration, members who conclude that they are no longer professionally active, for example those who are retired or who have stopped working professionally for whatever reason, will not need to go any further. They will therefore not be required to draw up a reflective learning plan or undertake any specific learning interventions as they are not undertaking a role that requires this.
SAICA will still select a sample of members who consider themselves not professionally active on the annual declaration as part of its annual monitoring process.
The principle of lifelong learning
Under the new CPD policy, there is no requirement to achieve a certain number of hours or points. Instead, members need to consider the professional competency requirements specific to their role and, if necessary, they need to undertake relevant learning interventions to address any gaps in competence identified. Learning interventions can include a broad range of activities that enable them to be professionally competent as required by the SAICA Code of Professional Conduct.
Lifelong learning is essential for any member who wants to remain relevant and maintain professional competence, regardless of their job role. The new CPD policy requires each member to complete a reflective plan, which serves as a personal development plan. There is an example of a reflective plan on the dedicated CPD website, but members should note that this plan is merely a guideline that can be adapted to suit each member’s personal needs.
Annual declarations and compliance
Given the output-based nature of the policy and the fact that members are required to reflect on their areas of development relative to their role, exemptions have become irrelevant. Therefore, as mentioned above, all members, regardless of their role or whether they still work professionally or not, are required to complete the annual declaration.
Members or associates who are retired and are no longer offering their professional services, need to indicate their circumstances on the annual declaration.
Should such members be found to have declared dishonestly on the annual declaration, they will be referred to the Legal and Discipline department.
For guidance or more information about CPD requirements, visit the dedicated CPD website or contact the CPD compliance team via firstname.lastname@example.org.