The Future Of Continuing Professional Education is Online at with Scott Zarret

Scott Zarret is a CPA who went to school at the University of Maryland and is the founder of They are the largest provider of free continuing education to the accounting profession and have over 365,000 members.

  • Scott comes from a family of accountants/educators so what he’s doing now is not a far cry from what he grew up with. He started out in public accounting but quickly realized that it wasn’t his cup of tea. He worked several jobs since that first foray into the business until he was introduced to the idea of selling cost segregation studies.
  • He put on his entrepreneurial hat and thought about how to sell something like that and realized that education was the way to go. He put on a live event that went really well but realized that live events don’t scale well, so he started pursuing the idea of online education with a model similar to the major universities.
  • The first few years in business weren’t easy, but that struggle is what taught Scott the lessons he needed to learn in order to build the business he has today.
  • Every state requires an average of 40 hours of continuing professional education to maintain your CPA license. There is no other profession with that level of requirement. From a marketing perspective, this is a great captive audience and there is a huge demand for this kind of education.
  • Anything where you can make the argument that the topic will make the CPA more effective at their job, it will qualify as continuing professional education.
  • CPA academy offers these courses for free so it’s a gold mine for small to midsize firms that care about budget and want to spend their time well.
  • Last year was the tax season from hell, and this year is looking to top it. Around this time last year, the demand for education exploded right after the stay-at-home orders. People were scrambling to understand the recent PPP legislation as well as the new work-at-home paradigm.
  • This year, PPP is still important but there are new programs being introduced that CPA’s need to stay up to date on. Each state has its own programs and bills working their way through the system which leaves a lot of uncertainty in the business.
  • From an educational standpoint, there is going to be a greater shift to online learning no matter what happens with Covid. The flipside to that is that live events and conferences are on the decline.
  • Scott has also noticed a trend towards people looking for content that’s grouped together like a mini-certification.
  • Scott opened the CPA Academy with one goal which was to deliver free continuing professional education. It started off with webinars and is developing in a number of different directions.
  • There are seven main topics that Scott believes are going to be in high demand in the future. They are financial planning, tax controversy, estate planning, non-profits, international tax, retirement planning, state and local taxes.
  • Tax controversy isn’t as popular as it should be which is probably an advertising issue, but it can be extremely difficult for CPA given all the educational content available.
  • Bankruptcy, tax resolution, and tax controversy go hand in hand and we are seeing the biggest spike in bankruptcies right now since 2010. Of the 110,000 businesses that have closed during the pandemic, many of them are going to owe income taxes. For most CPA’s, they need to realize that a quarter to a third of their existing clients are going to need tax resolution representation in the near future.
  • CPA’s and EA’s need to at least know the basics with regards to dischargeability. You don’t need to know everything about bankruptcy, you just need to know how to interpret and read the basic documents and be able to refer the client to the right professional.

Mentioned in this episode:

Michael Rozbruch's Tax & Business Solutions Academy -