Defining the professional accountant – reflecting on continuing professional development and the redefinition of professionalism

Catriona Paisey, Nicholas Julian Paisey

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper aims to examine the insights that can be gained from a consideration of CPD, specifically focused on the CPD policies of a range of major accountancy professional bodies worldwide, into the definition of a professional accountant. Using the combined theoretical framework of the theories of professions and the educational concept of the reflective practitioner, this paper examines the CPD policies of thirteen leading professional accountancy bodies in order to examine the changing meaning of professionalism implicit in the way these policies negotiate the relationship between continuing competence as a member of a professional body and competence in a professional accountant’s current role. The paper also refers to the continuing professional development policies of three other professions – medicine, law and teaching – in order to identify wider issues and trends. We find that CPD policies display considerable variability in relation to their use of input or output models and the degree of latitude permitted which can be viewed as evidence of the concept of reflection, but also reflects a lack of agreement about the work of an accountant or the domain of accounting. The requirement for CPD to be relevant where relevance is variously defined as relevance to profession or relevance to current role, and the use by some professional accountancy bodies of employer accreditation of CPD shows a blurring of the distinction between professional bodies and employers that impacts on the meaning of professionalism.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2016
Event39th European Accounting Association Annual Congress - MECC, Maastricht, Netherlands
Duration: 11 May 201613 May 2016


Conference39th European Accounting Association Annual Congress
Abbreviated titleEAA 2016
Internet address


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