Being a professional and a member of a prestigious institute has many benefits, but it also carries with it responsibilities. One of these is to remain up to date with developments and trends affecting internal auditing and to continue to hone the skills that enable you to do your job well – and to progress in your career. This is why the Chartered IIA, in common with other professional institutes, requires all members to undertake, and record, continuing professional education (CPE) each year.
This basic requirement is not new, but in April the institute is adapting its CPE requirements to bring them into line with those of IIA Global and to ensure that all institute members, whether they qualified under the PIIA and CMIIA exams or the CIA exams, work towards a single CPE goal. The changes will formalise the process and may affect how you record your CPE. They should not prove significantly more onerous, but it is important that you know how they will affect you, so that you can plan your CPE throughout the year and obtain the necessary evidence as you do it.
One key benefit is that the new system aligns members of the Chartered IIA with IIA Global requirements, so managers, audit committee members, investors and any others who have a stake in knowing whether an organisation’s internal audit team is robust can see clear evidence that the internal auditors are both professionally qualified and subject to the normal ongoing requirements of a reputable and rigorous professional organisation. It also means that if you work across international borders (or intend to apply for a job overseas) you will be meeting the same CPE targets as colleagues who are members of IIA Global.
But CPE more broadly should be seen as an opportunity to analyse your skills and plan how to fill any gaps – rather than as a chore. “There’s always a risk that CPE can be seen as a tick-box exercise that you have to do to renew your membership, but I prefer to see it not as something that you need to do for the institute, but something that you need to do for you,” says Mark Herbert CMIIA, assistant manager, internal audit, at Skipton Building Society.
He believes in planning in advance to ensure that you target the areas you need to develop. “Look at your audit plan at the start of the year and ask yourself what technical skills will you need and what soft skills would be useful,” he advises.
“If you plan it early, you can factor a quick round-up into meetings with your line manager and make sure you progress against these objectives – it only takes a few minutes to set up a simple spreadsheet so you can see how you’re doing through the year and that means you’ll know exactly what you’ve done and what you still need to do, well before you need your evidence.”
Catherine Folan CMIIA, internal auditor at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester, found that being asked to submit evidence of her CPE last year changed her approach. “Historically, I haven’t done enough to document my reflections on CPE activities – how I actually used the learning,” she explains. “I did reflect, but I didn’t document it at the time. This exercise was useful and highlighted the need to reflect on any learning soon after the event.
Documenting how she used CPE also made Folan realise that she had missed opportunities to record some learning in the past. For example, she says she always reads Audit & Risk magazine when it arrives, but on the occasions when she has actively used an article in her work or with colleagues she has not recorded this formally as CPE.
“Reading the guidance on CPE on the IIA website was valuable because it made me think harder about what I actually do and how I document it,” she says. “It made me think about CPE in a far more structured way.”
Herbert points out that many people forget that soft skills can be just as important as technical skills. His organisation organises internal courses on many issues relating to the business and risk management and, as a member of the Northern England IIA Committee, he has attended events by KPMG, which he says have helped him to keep abreast of current developments.
“In my organisation there is lots of recognition of the IIA qualification and we expect people to have professional qualifications or to be working towards them. CPE is part of this,” he says. “You want rounded people and CPE helps to ensure this, so it’s important for the reputation and status of the institute and of the qualification.”
Formal learning does not have to mean attending an expensive course. Many other activities also count towards your CPE requirements. The important test is whether you can demonstrate how the event or activity contributed to your professional development. It needs to have clear aims and objectives and must enable you to reflect on what you’ve learnt.
Activities could include:
- Attending courses, conferences, seminars and masterclasses.
- Undertaking structured reading and research, including technical updates and guidance.
- Working towards relevant qualifications.
- Participating in external quality assessments (EQAs).
- Participating in, or leading, professional discussions or learning conversations.
- Networking and sharing good practice with colleagues in the profession.
- Leading meetings or projects.
- Engaging in in-house training and development, by external trainers as well as by colleagues and peers.
- Engaging in work-shadowing, job exchanges, professional placements and secondments.
- Soliciting peer reviews and analysing feedback on your own performance.
- Receiving or giving mentoring and coaching.
- Reflective practice, such as maintaining a journal.
- Supported induction into new areas of activity, eg if you’ve been promoted or you’re on rotation.
- Contributing to the activity of relevant professional bodies and their committees.
- Developing and producing technical papers, reports and other resources.
For more information, visit www.iia.org.uk/cpe