Continuing professional development (CPD) requirements
CPD activities and examples
I serve on a number of committees of the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs and other professional bodies. Some can be classified as technical committees, some cannot. Can this activity qualify for CPD hours?
Recording CPD hours and evidence
Exemption from CPD requirements
I am currently working in the US and will not be in Hong Kong for the next few years. As such I shall not be able to attend any CPD activities in Hong Kong. Can I get any exemption from CPD requirements?
|Q1.||What is continuing professional development?|
Continuing professional development (CPD) is intended to maintain, enhance and broaden members’ relevant knowledge and skills to enable them to carry out their professional duties and responsibilities competently as Certified Public Accountants (CPA) throughout their career and thereby to strengthen public trust in the profession.
The cardinal principle of considering what are relevant CPD activities is whether such activities are relevant to an individual's work as a CPA. These learning activities should enhance and broaden the relevant knowledge and skills to enable a CPA to carry out his or her professional duties and responsibilities competently.
Individual training needs vary and the CPD scheme has been designed to reflect this by offering a wide spectrum of training activities which qualify for CPD hours. To meet the CPD requirements, members are free to choose activities relevant to their individual needs. Members may choose programmes offered by the Institute or other outside providers, so long as they consider such programmes suitable and relevant to their individual needs.
Having taken into consideration that many of our members are busy practitioners and frequent travellers, compliance with CPD requirements can be achieved by methods of learning other than classroom lecture-based methods. Examples are e-Learning; attending overseas accounting conferences/training; long distance learning courses and reading of professional journals and books.
Selection of CPD programmes should not be confined to those organized by the Institute as other relevant programmes/courses organized by outside providers are also recognized as CPD activities. The main consideration is whether such activity fulfils the cardinal principle as set out above.
In addition to education, practical experience, and training, CPD also includes learning and development activities, such as (a) coaching and mentoring, (b) networking, (c) observation, feedback, and reflection, and the (d) self-directed and unstructured gaining of knowledge.
|Q2.||What is the consequence for not complying with the CPD requirements?|
With the enactment of the Professional Accountants (Amendment) Ordinance (PAO) in September 2004, compliance with CPD is one of the criteria for renewal of registration as a CPA under s.28(2)(c) and issuance of a Practising Certificate under s.30(8) of the PAO. In the absence of exemption, the Council shall refuse a member's application to renew his/her registration as a CPA if the member fails to comply with the CPD requirements as set down by the Council.
How many CPD hours does a member need to complete?
According to Statement 1.500 (revised July 2014), all members are required to complete a total of 120 hours of relevant CPD activity in each rolling three-year period, of which 60 hours should be verifiable, and a minimum of 20 CPD hours (verifiable or non-verifiable) each year.
|Q4.||How should a member count the rolling three-year period for CPD compliance?|
|Ans.||The Institute adopts a rolling three-year reporting cycle, which allows more flexibility for members to earn their CPD hours. CPD reporting cycle commences on 1 December each year. For example, if a member joined the Institute in year 2015, his / her first rolling three-year period is from 1 December 2015 to 30 November 2018, and the second cycle is from 1 December 2016 to 30 November 2019 and so on.|
A CPD year starts on 1 December and ends on 30 November the following year. If I join the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs as a member in the middle of a CPD year, how many CPD hours do I have to complete during that year?
Where a member joins the Institute in the middle of a year, the CPD requirements apply to him/her on a pro-rata basis to 30 November of that year (i.e. 20 minimum CPD hours on pro-rata basis). The rolling cycle starts on the subsequent 1 December.
Under Statement 1.500, is there any difference between Practising Certificate (PC) holders and non-PC holders in terms of CPD requirements?
No. The same requirements are applicable across-the-board to all members, irrespective of whether or not the member is a PC holder. However, even if PC holders are members of Global Accounting Alliance (GAA) institutes (see Q29), they are still required to fulfill the HKICPA’s CPD requirements.
CPD activities and examples
|Q7.||What are relevant CPD activities?|
It is the responsibility of members to exercise their professional judgement in deciding the type of CPD activities they undertake according to their individual needs. Such learning activities should maintain, deepen and extend their professional knowledge, skills and values, and should be relevant to the individual member's current and future work, professional responsibilities, helping them to enhance their understanding of the trends and environment in which they are working as a CPA. Learning activities to improve business skills, such as leadership, negotiation, management and presentation skills can also be recognized as relevant CPD activities.
If you are applying your existing professional knowledge and skills, such as to perform daily job duties, to act as judge / panelist of competitions, you should not recognize these activities as relevant CPD activities because there is no learning involved.
|Q8.||What is the distinction between verifiable and non-verifiable CPD activities?|
Verifiable CPD activities can be objectively verified by a competent source. Some learning activities, for example on-the-job training, may be measurable, but may not be able to be verified. These activities also contribute to the development and maintenance of professional competence, but would not be considered to form part of the 60 hours of verifiable CPD in the three-year rolling period.
The following examples represent evidence that could be used for verification:
(a) Course outlines and teaching materials;
(b) Confirmation of participation by a provider, instructor, employer, mentor, or tutor (in the case of the Institute's e-Learning courses, the registration form or confirmation of registration);
(c) Transcript, examination result slips;
(d) Independent assessments that a learning activity has occurred;
(e) Confirmation by organizers of participation in activities where learning outcomes have been achieved;
(f) Confirmation by organizers of seminar/talks in which one was engaged as a speaker;
(g) Publication of a professional article or of the result of a research project. The publication would be by a third party publishing organization which would have reviewed the article or results as suitable for publication; and
(h) Agenda of meetings for committees of professional bodies.
Non-verifiable CPD activities have no evidence to substantiate the CPD hours claimed. One example of a non-verifiable activity is reading professional journals including A-Plus Magazine.
|Q9.||I have attended a number of courses run by organizations other than the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs. These courses are not endorsed by the Institute. Can I claim CPD hours for these courses?|
It should be noted that CPD programmes do not need to be approved by the Institute. There is no policy requiring outside course providers to obtain endorsement from the Institute for CPD recognition. It is entirely up to the individual member to judge the suitability of a particular programme for himself/herself. The main consideration is whether these courses contribute towards your professional development. In other words, they should be relevant to your immediate or long term needs as a CPA. For guidance, this judgement can be based on the following factors:
Members are reminded to keep a record of these activities, such as the course outlines and timetables, handouts / instructional materials, case studies working materials, certificates of completion, etc. If the organizer provides a 'bearer' certificate or attendance record, members are reminded to fill in their names immediately after receiving the record to avoid transfer of CPD to another person in the event of its loss.
|Q10.||I am studying an MBA programme. Can it be recognized as a CPD programme? If so, is it a verifiable or non-verifiable CPD activity?|
Studying a relevant academic course can be considered as a verifiable learning activity if it is able to be objectively verified by a competent source, such as an attendance record, or confirmation of registration from the provider. For an MBA programme, both face-to-face contact hours, examination hours as well as revision hours can be counted as verifiable CPD hours.
My job requires me to coach my staff on a daily basis. Can I claim CPD hours from coaching my staff?
No. Normal work activities carried out as part of your daily work do not constitute continuing professional development, whether verifiable or non-verifiable.
However, occasional technical training sessions or supervision of a registered student or a prospective member of the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs as an Authorized Supervisor (AS), an External Authorized Supervisor (EAS) or a Counsellor (C) of an Authorized Employer is recognized as CPD activity.
An AS/EAS/C is allowed to claim up to 5 verifiable CPD hours (with supporting documents by a competent source) for supervising one registered student or one prospective member under the Practical Experience Framework per CPD year. Regardless of the number of registered students or prospective members supervised, the member can only claim up to 20 hours per CPD year. For example, if a member supervises 5 students or prospective members as an AS and 2 students or prospective members as an EAS during any CPD year, he/she is still only allowed to claim a maximum of 20 verifiable CPD hours.
|Q12||I participate in my company's in-house training sessions and occasionally I am involved as a speaker. Can this type of activity be counted as verifiable CPD activity?|
Participation in company's in-house training courses is recognized as verifiable CPD activity provided you are able to provide objective verification by an independent source.
In principle, time spent by a member in assimilating knowledge on professional, technical and managerial subjects relevant to his/her work as a CPA is recognized as constituting continuing professional development. Therefore being a course speaker or presenter of topics relevant to your professional responsibilities is considered to be a CPD activity. Time spent in preparing the presentation of relevant topics is also counted as CPD hours.
However, repeated presentations of the same material (especially within a short period of time) will not be counted as CPD activity unless the repeated work entails updating of the presentation material. In this case only the time spent on research and updating the material should be counted as CPD hours.
|Q13.||I serve on a number of committees of the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs and other professional bodies. Some can be classified as technical committees, some cannot. Can this activity qualify for CPD hours?|
Yes, participation in technical committees for professional bodies (with supporting documents by a competent source) qualifies as verifiable CPD. The cardinal principle of considering what are relevant CPD activities is whether such activities are relevant to individual's work as a CPA. These learning activities should enhance and broaden the relevant knowledge and skills to enable a CPA to competently carry out his or her professional duties and responsibilities. CPD credit is counted on actual basis, including preparation work and attendance to the committee meetings.
For participation in non-technical or other committees, the maximum verifiable CPD hours claimed for a year is 4 (with supporting documents by a competent source). The granting of CPD credits aims to encourage members' development of soft skills such as communication, presentation, negotiation, time management skill, etc. which are essential competencies relevant to members' work and professional responsibilities nowadays.
What is a technical committee?
CPD may be claimed for preparation and attendance at technical committees relevant to a member's professional development. Technical committees are committees which deal with issues of accountancy or accountancy related knowledge and skills, technical competencies and professional values, ethics and attitudes. Other committees would be of a non-technical nature.
The following committees of HKICPA are technical committees and the attendance to these committees for discussing technical issues can be claimed as CPD hours where relevant to a member's professional development:
- Auditing and Assurance Standards Committee
- Ethics Committee
- Financial Reporting Standards Committee
If members attend other committees, the time they spend on discussing technical matters is also eligible for claiming CPD hours provided it is relevant to the member's professional development. Please refer to the Appendix of Statement 1.500 (Revised July 2014) for guidance on accountancy or accountancy related work that may be regarded as technical matters taken from. The list is not exhaustive. There may be other work which is of a technical nature.
|Q15.||I have attended talks relating to personal career development and the use of Chinese medicine or other ways to keep good health. Can I claim CPD hours for attending these events?|
These events do not relate to enhancement of members' professional skills for the provision of better services to others. The Institute does not normally grant CPD credits for attending these events. Similarly, training relating to CV preparation and interviewing skills which help members to perform better recruitment interviews also does not qualify for CPD credits.
|Q16.||I joined the Institute's Mentorship Programme as a mentor. How many CPD hours can be claimed for my participation?|
|Ans.||With effective from 1 April 2015, an approved mentor under the Institute's Mentorship Programme will be awarded up to 5 non-verifiable CPD hours for each assigned mentee and up to 3 verifiable CPD hours for attending mentorship related briefings organized by HKICPA during any one-year mentorship cycle commencing on 1 April each year. Each mentor can take at most two mentees concurrently during any mentor-mentee cycle.|
|Q17.||Summary of CPD activities with capped CPD hours|
|Q18.||I have not submitted my CPD Declaration to the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs by the specified membership renewal deadline. Will I be regarded as a case of non-compliance?|
|Ans.||Yes, if you do not file your CPD Declaration to the Institute by the specified due date, you will be regarded as being not complying with the CPD requirements. As a consequence, your application for renewal of registration as a CPA will not be granted.|
If my employer has made the annual CPD declaration on my behalf in a block declaration, do I need to submit an individual CPD declaration for membership renewal purpose?
HKICPA has suspended the CPD block declaration arrangement since the 2016 membership renewal. Members are requested to update their membership data such as employment and interests when they complete the CPD declaration in the Annual Return for renewal. The aim is to enable the Institute to provide better membership services customized to members' needs and to improve member communication and efficiency. To protect data privacy and minimize the risk of input errors of personal data by the Institute, all members are required to complete and submit the Annual Return individually online.
Recording CPD hours and evidence
|Q20.||I have enrolled on a Hong Kong Institute of CPAs' CPD seminar with the Computerized Ticketing System (CTS) and I checked in with my membership card at the registration counter. Do I need any attendance record form to substantiate my CPD hours for this event?|
|Ans.||CTS, the computerized ticketing system, is a substitute for the admission ticket so that members can use their membership card or the Institute's affinity credit card for admission to the Institute's CPD events. After you enroll and check in with the CTS, details of the CPD event and your CPD attendance record will be automatically updated and displayed in MyCPA. CPD records updated under CTS by the Institute in MyCPA are recognized as evidence of CPD hours by the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs. You can click here to learn more about the CTS.|
|Q21.||I am also a member of another professional accountancy institute. To comply with CPD requirements of other professional bodies, I need documentary evidence to support my attendance of CPD seminars organized by the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs. How can I get attendance records from the Institute?|
Members have to collect a stamped CPD record form provided by the Institute at the end of each CPD event if the member needs a record of attendance to substantiate their CPD hours earned for the purpose of complying with CPD requirements of other organizations.
Please note that MyCPA may not be suitable evidence or record for your attended CPD hours complying with other professional bodies' CPD requirements. Members are advised to follow the requirements of those other bodies.
I have subscribed for an e-Manager course with listed CPD hours of 3 hours. However, I only needed 2 hours to complete the whole course, including the assessment, which I passed. How many hours will I be granted for this e-Manager course?
CPD hours for online courses are granted on the lesser of i) actual time spent on the online course; or ii) the listed CPD hours for the online course. As you spent 2 hours to complete the e-Manager course, you are granted 2 CPD hours based on your actual learning activity. This applies even when you successfully complete the assessment.
I enrolled on a CPD seminar but I arrived 30 minutes late and missed the first part of the seminar. Can I claim any CPD hours for this event?
CPD hours are counted on an actual attendance basis. Members can claim their actual attendance time as CPD hours unless their attendance in the event is less than 30 minutes, in which case no CPD hours are recognized. The Institute's CPD seminars are verifiable CPD activities provided that members keep documentary evidence to support their attendance, such as the course outlines and timetables, handouts / instructional materials, case studies working materials, certificates of completion etc.
|Q24.||I know that I need to maintain documentary evidence to support my attendance and completion of CPD activities. How long do I need to keep these records?|
|Ans.||Pursuant to Statement 1.500 of Member's Handbook, members are required to maintain records and documentary evidence of their verifiable CPD hours for a minimum of five years. You will be asked to produce the records and documentary evidence if you are selected for the CPD audit. Click here for a sample CPD record.|
|Q25.||I know that an annual audit exercise is conducted after the annual CPD declaration. Who will be selected and how are they selected to undergo this audit exercise?|
|Ans.||Every year the Institute conducts a CPD audit on a certain percentage of the membership under the directive of Council. A random sample is generated by computer. Theoretically every member is subject to the CPD audit and members may be selected for audit on a risk-based process. Members selected for audit are required to submit to the Institute their CPD records of the relevant reporting CPD period with documentation to support attendance or completion of the CPD activities as stated in their CPD records. The current Statement 1.500 will be used as the basis to audit the CPD records.|
Exemption from CPD requirements
|Q26.||What are the criteria for CPD exemption?|
Appendix of Statement 1.500 (Revised July 2014) describes the criteria taken into account by the Institute in considering applications by members for CPD exemption.
The guidelines for exemption do not regard career break, serious illness, retirement or pregnancy as categories of special circumstances for granting CPD exemptions. Instead, the guidelines state that the Institute may grant exemption from CPD to a member who, at the time of application, is not carrying out any accountancy or accountancy related work, whether paid or unpaid, and does not plan to do so for a significant period of time. Council considers exemption applications on a case by case basis. Members must apply in writing to the Institute's Admission Department for exemption, supported by documentary evidence.
Generally, no exemption will be granted to members holding Practising Certificates or Specialist Designations or directorship of any companies. Exemptions from CPD compliance granted by other professional accountancy bodies, including a State Board of Accountancy of the United States of America or other Global Accounting Alliance (GAA) institutes (see Q29) are not recognized by the Institute. Exemption from compliance with the Institute’s CPD requirements can only be granted by the Institute.
Any examples for accountancy or accountancy related work?
Below are examples of accountancy or accountancy related work in which you would not be granted CPD exemption if you perform one of the following (please note that this is not an exhaustive list):
|Q28.||If I satisfy the criteria for exemption from the CPD requirements, do I need to submit a CPD Declaration through the Annual Return whenever I renew my registration as a CPA?|
To be exempt from the CPD requirements, a member must apply to the Institute and be granted exemption. If you have already been granted a CPD exemption by HKICPA, and you continue to meet the current exemption criteria, i.e. you are (1) not an HKICPA Practising Certificate (PC) holder and not an HKICPA insolvency Specialist Designation holder; (2) not carrying out any accountancy or accountancy related work (paid or not paid) and do not plan to do so for a significant period of time; and (3) not a director of any companies (listed or non-listed), you do not need to complete or submit the CPD declaration section of the Annual Return. If you no longer meet the current exemption criteria, you will need to notify the Institute in writing and resume your CPD. Please refer to Appendix of Statement 1.500 (Revised July 2014), Guidance on Exemption for more details about exemption, including information about what is accountancy or accountancy related work.
Any previously granted exemption will cease when a member ceases his or her membership. New application for exemption will be considered against the guidelines prevailing at the time of application.
|Q29.||I am also a member of another professional accountancy institute. Do I have to comply with the CPD requirements of the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs?|
The CPD compliance requirements of a State Board of Accountancy of the United States of America (US State Board) or of the six institutes of the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA) (of which the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs (HKICPA) is also a member) listed below are now recognized by the Institute except for HKICPA Practising Certificate (PC) or Specialist Designation (SD) holders. This means that, except for HKICPA PC or SD holders, members of HKICPA who are also holders of an active license issued by a US State Board or members of one or more GAA institutes need only fulfil the CPD requirements of that US State Board or of one of those GAA institutes (of which the HKICPA member is also a member) and, in so doing, shall be deemed to satisfy HKICPA’s CPD requirements.
The other six GAA institutes are:
1. Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA Canada)
2. Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ)
3. Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
4. Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI)
5. Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
6. The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)
As an example, a member of HKICPA who is also a member of the ICAEW, but is not a PC holder of HKICPA, may choose to meet the CPD requirements of either HKICPA or ICAEW: if that member chooses to meet the CPD requirements of the ICAEW then he or she will be deemed to meet the HKICPA CPD requirements. Such members are expected to choose which institute’s CPD requirements to comply with for a full CPD reporting year, i.e. 1 December to 30 November of the following year. The first CPD reporting period for which this is effective was the year to 30 November 2008.
Members satisfying HKICPA’s CPD requirements by satisfying a US State Board or another GAA institute’s CPD system are still required to complete the HKICPA annual declaration of CPD compliance. If selected for audit, such members will be required to produce their CPD records and relevant supporting documentary evidence to meet that US State Board or GAA institute’s CPD system. HKICPA may seek relevant confirmation of CPD compliance with the relevant GAA institute as appropriate.
When a US State Board or a GAA institute requests information about a member's CPD compliance status with the Institute, HKICPA may disclose the relevant information to that US State Board or GAA institute unless the member has stated in their CPD declaration that they do not want the information to be disclosed to that US State Board or GAA institute.
|Q30.||I am currently working in the US and will not be in Hong Kong for the next few years. As such I shall not be able to attend any CPD activities in |
|Ans.||Residing or working overseas does not qualify you for exemption from the CPD requirements. CPD learning activities are not restricted to location or classroom lecture-based method. For members who reside overseas, e-Learning is an alternative CPD activity. Any suitable CPD activities taken outside Hong Kong are also recognized as constituting continuing professional development, provided that the knowledge and/or skills acquired through these activities are relevant to your professional development as a CPA.|
If you have any further queries regarding CPD requirements, please call the Institute at 2287-7454.
Revised in August 2018