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Certification Craze

Certification CrazeThere has been a couple of articles about certifications, as if it is a panacea for the skills gap. But just because someone is certified, does not mean that person will be able to solve problems or be able to creatively come up with solutions. I once worked at a refinery where a peer, who had a CPA, could not figure out how the accounting worked or solve a reconciliation problem. One time she asked another girl for help and the second girl paused and looked at her with surprise. She then said, “You should know how to do this since you’ve been working on it.” That was when I learned that just because someone has a CPA, it does not mean they can figure things out: they may have to be told how things worked.

When I was job hunting a while ago, I chanced upon an advertisement for FP&A Certification, not for Financial Planners but for corporate FP&A personnel. I wondered what it was and how much it costed. If I remember correctly, it was a course offered by a reputable university to cover the principles of corporate planning and then to give you a test where if you pass, you are certified. I recall it being costly and so put it aside to let it simmer in my brain before signing up. The ad appeared during a period where people were lamenting the high cost of college and were thus questioning its value. There didn’t seem to be a return on the value when so many college educated youngsters were unemployed.

I also was insecure and thus vulnerable. I wanted to try it out but at the same time, I questioned whether getting a certification on FP&A really was going to help me. But all of the articles on the skill gap gnawed at me. At the same time, it struck me as more of a ploy to generate additional revenue stream. I already had an undergraduate degree and an MBA as well as a couple of years in an FP&A role. And now I have to get certified to be considered employable? It’s one thing to tout certification as an alternative to college but as an addition to an undergraduate degree, an MBA and multiple years in corporate FP&A? It struck me as a tad too much.

I ended up not going after it because I figured if I was unqualified to work in FP&A after obtaining an undergrad degree, an MBA and several years of work, then I was still going to be unqualified after certification. No amount of certification was going to gloss over the lack of whatever it is companies are looking for. Furthermore, if there is truly a skills gap, then, before touting these certifications as the answer, universities should work on beefing up their finance/accounting programs.

Besides, if AI and robots are going to take over 47% of the jobs, and accounting and finance are deemed highly vulnerable to such automating, then it would appear that I would be better off learning a different set of skills. Exactly what, I’m still searching.

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