Mar 25, 2021
Scott Zarret is a CPA who went to school at the University of
Maryland and is the founder of CPAacademy.org. 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Mentioned in this episode:
Michael Rozbruch's Tax & Business Solutions Academy