The Value of CPE Credits with CPA Academy Founder Scott Zarret

Gusto Editors

Do you want to know how to get CPE credits through CPA Academy and Gusto? 

Accounting education is costly and requires students to invest money, time, and energy. To make the most of any training you pursue, you need to know how the industry is evolving and what training you need to stay up to date with industry changes. We explored these topics in an edition of On the Margins: LIVE, with hosts Caleb Newquist, Gusto’s Editor-at-Large, and Will Lopez, head of Gusto’s accountant community. To view the entire discussion, check out the full episode on our YouTube channel, and don’t forget to subscribe. 

In this episode,  Caleb and Will talked with Scott Zarrett, president of CPA Academy, and Jaclyn Anku, Partner Education Manager at Gusto. The panel discussed how students can get CPE credits for CPA work, the future of client accounting services, and what online education will look like in years to come.

With more than 25 years of experience in the accounting profession, Scott Zarret, CPA, is widely recognized for developing innovative and highly successful marketing and sales strategies. His company, CPA Academy, has processed more than 5,000,000 registrations. An alumnus of the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, Scott began his career in the audit and tax department of what is now CohnReznick, a premier full-service advisory firm. Scott was named one of the 2019 Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting by Accounting Today

As the Partner Education Manager at Gusto, Jaclyn Anku is an expert in financial literacy for small businesses. Jaclyn is committed to exploring the connection between economic empowerment and well-being.

How CPA Academy is preparing accountants for the future

CPA Academy’s mission is very much aligned with Gusto’s, which is to create a world where work empowers a better life. They help keep accountants on top of trends in their jobs through a well-rounded education, cutting-edge training, and a progressive mindset. Like Gusto, the teachers at CPA Academy understand that being successful in the industry requires more than technical skills and analytical abilities. It’s a swiftly evolving field that now requires a facility with technology and great people skills, which are the roots of advisory expertise. 

CPA Academy’s specialty is in providing independent education for CPAs to earn CPE (Continuing Professional Education) credits. Every licensed CPA is required to earn CPE credits. The number of credits varies from state to state, and the format can range from self-study courses to webinars to industry conferences.

Scott has always valued a more well-rounded approach to accounting. As a result, CPA Academy offers courses in everything from Business to Wellness to Communication. In addition to learning the nuts and bolts of accounting, one can learn how to handle challenging interpersonal situations, manage stress during busy periods, or create a brand persona online. This helps cultivate well-rounded practitioners who have the tools they need to take control of their professional lives, run a business if needed, and become more than just a cog in a company’s wheel.

Happy business people at a seminar.

Scott firmly believes that to prepare for the future of accounting, accountants should branch out from taking core classes in accounting, auditing, and tax. They should diversify their coursework to include in-demand skills and also explore what really piques their interests.

“We have 3,000 classes a year, so why would you take a class that isn’t of interest to you when you can take something that’s right up your alley? … I think CPAs realize that the quality [of CPA Academy] is there, [and] … the price is right. They end up taking classes much in the way that they watch television or they listen to podcasts: they do it because they like it.”

– Scott Zarret

While Scott emphasized looking for classes that are enjoyable, there are a few key areas he deemed most important: technology and soft skills. Since he spoke during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most businesses were forced to rapidly adopt technology just to survive, he recounted how tech-savvy firms had fared the lockdowns compared to others:

“I think that those who [had] a history of taking tech classes and being proactive with it were very much well-positioned to be able to deal with the pandemic. … I think a lot of folks, especially in the beginning, were scrambling to find even the most basic tools from Slack or Zoom all the way up to QuickBooks and the rest of the [online] ecosystem.”

– Scott Zarret

No matter the circumstances, the fact is the industry is changing, and education hasn’t caught up. A study from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants shows that accounting firms are hiring students without accounting backgrounds more frequently. There’s also been a steady drop in enrollment for accounting education. Those are red flags that nobody should ignore. Instead, take action by expanding your skills.

“Basic survival is going to require understanding technology, like it or not, and I think that a lot of the software companies are benefiting because people are making these shifts. I think the CPAs who adopt the technology … are going to be the ones that are around … in the future.”

– Scott Zarret

The role of an accountant is growing more complex as the industry evolves. As more is added to the profession, you need to manage your energy to avoid burnout. Being wise about how you spend your time is one way to do that. Pick courses and training that you know will be useful, and do them with brands you trust.

Earn CPE credits with Gusto’s People Advisory Certification

Becoming a Certified People Advisor means that you’ll be qualified to offer advisory services on everything from benefits to HR. This consultatory role enables you to use payroll services as a gateway into providing these more robust services, thus increasing your value and the services you offer.

The good news is that by becoming a Certified People Advisor, you’ll get comprehensive training in technology and advisory. On top of that, you’ll earn four CPE credits. On your path to leveling up your accounting game and elevating your services, you’ll also be ticking off the boxes for your education requirements. Our program will prepare you for the future of the industry — not the past — and will do so in a digestible, easy-to-understand way.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity … to offer CPE credits for the content that [Gusto] provided, and [we] can attest to the quality of the content. …  It only makes sense, in my view, that people who are taking [the Gusto] certification course would get credit for it. … The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy‘s definition of what qualifies [for credits] is not that it’s dry, which is what a lot of us thought credentials [had] been. It turns out that [it just needs to be] relevant to your career, and [Gusto] provides real content that’s actually going to help people make the rubber hit the road.”

– Scott Zarret
Three people having a conversation at a seminar.

When you become a Certified People Advisor, you’ll earn two credits for technology content and two for management. This is crucial. You can be an exceptional accountant and a skilled advisor with tech expertise, but if you don’t know the business management side of advisory, you won’t get very far. As the industry shifts and automation gains traction, you must be prepared to manage your own advisory business if needed. Business management education is an invaluable tool if done right.

“Just like the technical content is critical, so are the efficiencies within your business, and it would be a disservice to CPAs if [this training] was just an elective that they had to take [in] their own free time. … [The] courses that [Gusto] put together are not just, ‘Let’s answer some polling questions and move on with our day.’ They’re really designed to make sure that the output of the attendee is deserving of certification. [Gusto is] not just trying to meet minimum standards. … [They’re] going above and beyond and really taking care to make sure that the quality is there and that people are getting the credit that they deserve.”

– Scott Zarret

Jaclyn also commented on the well-balanced nature of Gusto’s People Advisory Certification program and how it provides a well-rounded education.

“It’s a very balanced course that delivers foundational knowledge on what you need to know about payroll benefits and HR. It delivers the technical training that you need on Gusto’s people platform to feel confident using the technology. It also teaches you how to step into an advisory mindset around people advisory so that you can better use payroll as an inroad to deliver richer services to your clients.”

– Jaclyn Anku

Gusto’s People Advisory Certification brings new meaning to earning CPE credits. The course offers a practical framework for providing advisory services, including teaching you how to have consultation conversations with clients. This is an opportunity to increase your value by offering services no machine can provide. It’s helping you work with technology instead of against it while also increasing your earning potential with expanded services. 

Learn more about CPE credits with CPA Academy

CPA Academy is light years beyond many traditional accounting training programs because they have diversified their offerings for CPAs. They go beyond the nuts and bolts of accounting, auditing, and tax law to provide courses in technology, communication, marketing, relationship building, and more. This better prepares CPAs for a future in which technology and advisory play an ever-increasing role in the industry. 

Those who become Certified People Advisors with Gusto will earn four CPE credits — two in technology and two in management. CPA Academy attests to the high-quality and relevance of the content Gusto offers in this certification, which elevates professionals from accountants to advisors. Becoming certified is a good use of limited time and energy, which are crucial for those in skilled service professions. Changes in hiring point to gaps in the status quo of accounting education, as many firms are hiring people who don’t have accounting degrees. CPA Academy and Gusto are here to fill in those gaps.

Gusto is here to help prepare you for a successful career. If you haven’t already, check out our other article based on the same episode: “Panel Discussion: Accounting Education, CPE Credits, and More.” Also, don’t forget to check out Gusto’s upcoming webinars at CPA Academy. 

Becoming a Gusto Partner can make your life easier. Get payroll and HR support for your team and our new advisory revenue stream for your practice through our people advisory platform. As a Gusto partner, you’ll also get tools to help you expand your accounting practice and offer your clients new insights, plus a free payroll subscription for your own accounting firm. Sign up today!

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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