What I Know About The New CPA Certification Program – March 2023

This week, my Instagram DMs were busy with the following two questions:

  • Is there no more CFE in 2025?
  • Is PERT being removed in 2025?

Even though I got my designation last year, I am still very invested in what goes on with the program like many of you. Because ultimately, what happens to the profession in the future do have an impact on what the 3 letters behind my name mean. I worked hard for years for it and so we definitely should stay on top of this.

In this post (which will be the first of many as the program develops), I am going to:

  • answer some burning questions you have with what I can gather from CPA Canada & CPABC (special thanks to the team at CPABC for providing answers)
  • share my personal view on the idea of a new CPA certification program

TL;DR CPA Canada aims to launch a new certification program for the CPA designation in 2025. As of March 2023, the program is still at the feedback solicitation and design stage. There are some proposed concepts for the new program per what has been released by the profession, however, the program is actively being developed and subject to change.

Common Questions About The New CPA Certification Program

What is the Certification 2.0 (Cert 2.0)?

Cert 2.0 refers to the new certification program being developed by CPA Canada.

What is the Competency Map 2.0 (CM 2.0)?

CM 2.0 refers to the competency map that lays the foundation for Cert 2.0.

There is currently a competency map for practical experience (PERT) and another one for PEP modules and CFE. Since CM 2.0 is supposed to “lays the foundation for the CPA certifcation program”, it is safe to assume that it will be the one and only competency map for the Cert 2.0.

Why Is A New Certification Program for CPA Being Designed?

Based on this article by CPABC and what I can gather from the videos CPA Canada has released to date, two of the main goals for a new certification program are:

  • to make the CPA designation more attractive to both employers and students
  • to design a CPA program that is more adaptable and responsive to the rapidly-changing needs in the macro-environment and labour market

How Does CPA Canada Know What Employers & Educators Want for the New Certification Program?

In Nov 2022, CPA Canada held sessions on the new certification program where they shared general information about Cert 2.0 and solicited feedback on what challenges the groups experienced with the existing CPA PEP program. Then, more discussion forums were held to gather input on the key concepts for the new model design in Feb 2023. Next week, CPA Canada is holding two interactive sessions for employers to provide feedback on the proposed conceptual framework.

If you are an employer or know an employer who is interested, they can sign up by cliking the link below:

In addition, CPA Canada stated that there are also parallel efforts underway to solicit feedback related to the practical experience component of the certification.

Is There Going to Be No More CFE in 2025?

The sweet and short answer to this question is that no one knows what will happen to CFE as of now because no decision has been made.

However, based on this Feb 2023 video released by CPA Canada, the proposed concepts of the new certification program suggested that Cert 2.0 will look different than the current PEP program.

For example, one of the proposed concepts for the new program is to assess performance in multiple formats at different points on the journey. Since examination such as the current PEP module exam is only one assessment format, we can assume that performance will be assessed by more than just traditional examination methods (e.g., multiple choice, case-writing) throughout the new CPA journey.

Following this train of tought, the 3-day CFE* like the one I wrote in 2021 seems more likely than not to at a minimum be adapted for Cert 2.0.

However, some understood what has been released as CPA Canada removing CFE/examination completely as a component of the new CPA program. Note, at the time of writing of this post, there is no confirmation on exactly how candidates will be assessed as the project is still at the feedback solicitation and design stage. This means we don’t know if CFE/examination remains, adapts or goes yet.

What If I Am Currently in the PEP Program – Will I Still Be Able to Write CFE?

CPABC has confirmed that even if the profession ultimately decides to remove the 3-day CFE* from Cert 2.0, it would remain until at least Fall 2026.

Therefore, if you are currently in the PEP program, you can plan ahead to ensure you will not be impacted by the change. Personally, if I was in PEP now, I would try my best to schedule my modules to allow for at least two CFE writings before Fall 2026. This plan would allow me to fail CFE once and be able to try again before any change takes place.

Reminder: CPA Canada has not made a decision on what happens with CFE as of March 2023.

Is There Going to Be No More PERT in 2025?

The sweet and short answer to this question is same as the one for CFE: no one knows what will happen to PERT as of now because no decision has been made.

However, CPABC has confirmed that regardless of what happens to PERT (the reporting tool), candidates can expect practical experience and the reporting of it will remain a vital part of Cert 2.0.

Furthermore, in this Feb 2023 video released by CPA Canada, practical experience is being referred to as experiential learning. One of the proposed concepts for the new program is for experiential learning to be incorporated into different learning units at various points of the journey. However, it is not yet clear exactly how CPA Canada plans on executing this or if this concept will make it to the final program design.

One thing to note is that two of the most desired features of the new CPA program by employers are “no PERT” and “easier reporting.” While not much is confirmed yet, I know it gives comfort to some of you that this feedback has been communicated.

I Am A CPA & I Want to be Heard – When/Where Can CPA Members Voice Their Opinions About the New Program?

As per CPABC, CPA Canada “is working on a stakeholder engagement platform, which is anticipated to launch sometime in the Spring” of 2023. Until then, official updates can be found on CPA Canada website.

My Initial Thoughts on the New CPA Certification Program

I remember reading about Competency Map 2.0 for the first time when this article was published in the CPABC’s In Focus magazine. I thought, “it’s about time.” So, I am excited for Certification 2.0.

There are a lot of the concerns in the CPA community right now (e.g., decreased attractiveness of the program due to the change, the unfairness to CPAs who got their designations under the current program). However, the macro-environment is changing rapidly. An AI like ChatGPT was something most people only saw in movies until this year when it popped up everywhere. It can write professional emails that would normally take someone minutes in seconds. It can help solve Excel problems. Therefore, if you think about it, it should be no surprise that the profession wants to make sure the CPA program is deisnged to adapt and improve with time.

Also, based on the proposed concepts of the new program, I am hopeful that the new program will accommodate more learning styles. With the way CFE is designed right now, passing it has a lot to do with playing the game right. I know my fair share of competent accountants who passed CFE only after their second, third or even fourth (exception made) try because they were not following the winning rules. They might know their technical knowledge inside out or be a rock star at work, but they struggled with CFE. Some might be too focused on writing the perfect technically accurate response and some might simply be careful thinker or slow typists. Then, there are those who struggled with PERT via EVR. Again, I know a fair share of competent accountants who struggled with the reporting for months, if not years after they passed CFE. However, as you likely already know, the real world is VERY DIFFERENT. Navigating the corporate world requires way more than writing cases quickly or having the right experience for the right amount of time. These factors all come into play: technical knowledge, experience, social skills, market demand, timing and luck.

From what I have seen so far, I believe what the profession is trying to do is to maintain our relevancy and competitiveness. Personally, I want nothing more than for CPAs to move away from being thought of as the tax preparer (which is true for some but not for many others) to a finance professional who moves with the time and uses data strategically.

This is not the say I don’t have reservations about exactly how the new program will materialize. I simply think it is still to early to judge. What I plan on doing is to stay in the loop, participate and provide feedback whenever possible and share what I know regularly.

Helpful Readings/Links

  1. The New Certification Program: Stay Engaged
    • The official CPA Canada website for the New Certification Program
  2. Future-proofing: Ensuring the ongoing attractiveness of the CPA profession
    • This article answers a lot of the ‘WHY’ for the new program
  3. CPA Canada’s YouTube Channel
    • This is where CPA Canada uploads the recording for the disucssion forums held
  4. Competency Map 2.0
    • This is where you can download the new competency map

*Day 1 is a 4-hour exam based on a case that is connected to your Capstone 1 case, Day 2 is a 5-hour exam based on 1 case connected to your CFE role and Day 3 is a 4-hour exam based on 3 – 4 shorter cases.