Lifelong learning at work

The past week was a hectic period when I had a heavy dose of lifelong learning. It has been my habit and passion to be engaged in learning. My career engagements in this area include my stint as Dean of the University of the Philippines Diliman School of Business, where I completed my three-year term in October 2022. I was also very much involved in lifelong learning in my other work and engagements in the past. I was engrossed in lifelong learning activities in my work in the past such as when I was a tax partner of Reyes Tacandong & Co. And SGV & Co., Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Chairman of the Professional Regulatory Board of Accountancy, and my numerous teaching jobs in at least five colleges and learning institutions.

Last week, I attended, together with several hundreds of fellow Certified Public Accountants the Philippine Institute of CPAs National Summit on Public Practice from January 31 to February 1, 2023, at the Century Park Hotel in Manila, and the PICPA Geographical Area Office Councils Conference from February 3 to 5, 2023 at the Twin Lakes Hotel in Tagaytay City.

For the Manila summit, the attendees learned the latest developments affecting our accountancy profession, including the Professional Regulatory Board of Accountancy (BOA) Quality Assurance Review, material misstatement risks in the financial reports, and audit of financial statements of less complex entities.

In the Tagaytag convention, several speakers dwelled on tax-related topics, the expanded services of CPAs, the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), and Supreme Court decisions, and even a topic on overcoming mental health issues.

The two events provided a good mix of valuable learning, delicious food, and close camaraderie for all the attendees. An added bonus for us CPAs is that we were able to accumulate several Continuing Profesional Development units. These CPD learning sessions must be attended by CPAs as mandated by the CPD Law, Republic Act 9298 or the Accountancy law, RA 10192 or the CPD law, and various BOA issuances.

Compliance with these CPD rules is needed for the renewal of the CPA professional licenses and for some CPAs, their accreditation with the BOA to engage in the public practice of audit, or to teach in accounting schools. The International Federation of Accountants, which is the global governing body for the accountancy profession and where the PICPA is a member organization, prescribes 120 CPD units to be learned by CPAs in the span of three years. During my term as Chairman of the BOA, I caused the issuance of BOA Resolution 2016-358 in the early part of 2017, to effect this IFAC directive.

Aside from gathering many relevant learnings during these events, we were able to have a hearty exchange of ideas and suggestions with the government regulators that attended the sessions. These included officials from the BOA, BIR, Securities and Exchange Commission, the Quality Assurance Office, and even from the Court of Tax Appeals. Such important concerns and issues were brought out, including challenges in the BIR tax assessments and audits, compliance problems in tax filings and payments, the direction of the CPA licensure examinations, the dwindling supply of CPAs needed by industry, the quality of CPA external audits, common and frequent errors in financial reporting, the need for better accreditation processes of CPAs. During the open forum of the two sessions, I was able to highlight the recently released Supreme Court decision GR 246027. This SC decision came out with the landmark ruling that the Accountancy law provides that only the BOA can regulate and impose conditions on the practice of CPAs and that other government regulators have no authority to impose rules on the CPA practice. The case refers specifically to the deemed illegal practice of the SEC accrediting the CPA auditors as a requirement for the acceptance of the audited financial statements prepared by the auditors.

The many CPAs who attended the activities in the past week surely benefited from the added knowledge and interaction that they had during these life-long learning sessions.

Looking forward to more learning opportunities.

Joel L. Tan-Torres was the former Dean of the University of the Philippines Virata School of Business. Previously, he was the  Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the chairman of the Professional Regulatory Board of Accountancy, and partner of Reyes Tacandong & Co. and the SyCip Gorres and Velayo & Co. He is a Certified Public Accountant who garnered No. 1 in the CPA Board Examination of May 1979. He is now back to his tax practice and can be contacted at


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