Too much Excel CPE? Proposed rules suggest so

Jun. 30, 2017  |  Lynn Kletscher

Almost every CPA I know uses Excel. It doesn’t matter whether they’re in public accounting, business and industry, government, or education. The software’s complex functions and formulas help them perform their work more efficiently and accurately.

Why do I bring up the obvious?

On June 12, the Minnesota Board of Accountancy (BOA) published a notice of intent to adopt rules (Chapter 1105) without a public hearing, unless 25 or more individuals request one.  

The BOA’s summary of its proposed rule modifications (PDF) seems harmless enough, claiming to clarify the education requirements for licensure. The BOA’s intent, I believe, is to realign the BOA CPE rules with the latest version of the Statement on Standards for CPE Programs (PDF) as well as the proposed CPE Model Rules (PDF).

Part of the realignment qualifies nano- and blending-learning programs as acceptable CPE (yay!), but the rule tweaking also creates an unintended consequence.

The BOA’s proposed rule -- specifically 1105.3100, Subp. 4 (D) -- expands the 24-hour limitation from one field of study (personal development) to seven fields of study, i.e., nontechnical learning activities.

These include:

  • Behavioral ethics
  • Business management and organization
  • Communications and marketing
  • Computer software and applications
  • Personal development
  • Personnel/human resources
  • Production

Computer software and applications? That’s Excel -- along with any other software you might use. This hits close to home for a lot of CPAs.

But Excel isn’t the only concern.

The breadth and depth of skills needed by today’s CPAs extend far beyond accounting, tax and Excel. What about the ability to communicate financial results to clients or stakeholders? Or the ability to contribute to the business planning process of your firm or company?

And here’s the real Catch-22.

Minnesota CPAs are required to take a minimum of 8 hours of CPE in regulatory and/or behavioral ethics. If you opt for behavioral ethics, those hours not only count toward your ethics requirement, but also against the proposed nontechnical learning activities limitation.

Ultimately, it’s essential for CPAs to have the right balance of technical and nontechnical skills to be well-rounded professionals. That’s why the MNCPA sent a comment letter to the BOA requesting the limitation on nontechnical learning activities be increased from 24 to 60 hours, conforming with NASBA’s proposed CPE Model Rules.

The more the BOA hears from CPAs, the more likely they are to revise the limitation on nontechnical learning activities. I encourage you to send your own comment letter to the BOA. If you need help getting started, I’m happy to share a template letter that you can personalize.

Submit your comments, in writing, to the BOA by 4:30 p.m. on July 12.

If you have any questions about the proposed rule changes or comment process, feel free to share them below or email me directly. I would love to hear from you.


Topics: Professional certification, Regulation

Lynn Kletscher

Lynn Kletscher is the MNCPA Director of Education, working to secure innovative and informative continuing education programs for CPAs. When she’s not researching the latest NASBA CPE rules, she is at her hobby farm tending to her horses and chickens. She is a fair-weather motorcyclist and a year-round fan of The Walking Dead. Next time you attend an MNCPA event or seminar, ask her about her zombie escape plan. Lynn can be reached at 952-885-5513 or

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