With so much learning and development material available, it can often be difficult to sift through the jargon and find useful online courses and resources. However, it’s often just a question of knowing where to look and what to look for.
Since many accountancy and finance professionals are now working from home for the foreseeable future, we decided to share some of the best free online courses and resources for Accountants currently on offer.
There are a whole host of free online courses dedicated to accounting and finance, which are specifically designed to be as engaging and efficient as possible without the need for a physical presence in the classroom.
So, where to begin? You may already have an idea of some existing skills you need to work on or develop, or you may want to just challenge yourself and learn something entirely new. You might have no idea where to start, but in that case, we recommend focusing on the key areas identified by Accountancy Age in their recent webinar; these include budgeting, bookkeeping, cash flow, balance sheets and financial statement analysis in addition to relevant software programmes.
There are a vast number of free online courses out there, but we have compiled a condensed list of the best ones for boosting your skills and knowledge as an accountant or other finance professional:
edX is an online learning platform that offers a broad variety of free accounting and finance courses. These include topics such as Corporate Finance, Venture Capital, Financial Reporting and Financial Market Analysis. The majority of these courses are self-paced, and require a few hours of study per week. There is a small fee to obtain an official Verified Certificate upon course completion, however, their online courses are very useful for their ‘try before you buy’ element.
FutureLearn offer free online courses for accounting and finance, ranging from Bookkeeping for Personal and Business Accounting to Financial Planning and Budgeting. These courses are self-paced, but they are only available for a limited time if you choose the free option.
SkillShare also have a selection of free accounting courses, including Financial Statements and Analysis of Accounting Ratios. Although they provide unlimited access, the selection is narrower in comparison to FutureLearn.
The Corporate Finance Institute
The Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) offers a package of free online refresher courses. These free courses are ‘an absolute necessity for anyone looking to boost their career in finance or accounting.’
You can enrol for these courses free of charge, but should you wish to develop your knowledge further, there are a whole host of other courses available on site.
Whilst most of the online courses offered by the CFI are not free, Alison offers a range of free accounting courses for professionals at all levels. They feature topics such as:
As with edX, you have the option to purchase a certificate for some courses, but even if you don’t opt for this, you can download your learner record which serves as proof of achievement.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) offers free online courses which are designed to teach the fundamental principles of accounting and finance. The courses include introductory and intermediate level bookkeeping and management accounting modules, but if you are more advanced, there is a fee for the diplomas in management and financial accounting, bookkeeping and business technology.
The ACCA-X courses are not just for current students, but also ideal for those considering a career in finance, running their own business or returning to work.
Osborne Learning offers various courses and training in areas including Accounting, Finance, Payroll, CPD, SAP, Digital Marketing and more. They partner with the AAT and ACCA and provide many different ways to study, notably an online platform for learning. As with ACCA-X, they are not just for professionals studying these qualifications. Whilst their courses are not free, you can get a taster of what it’s like to learn at Osborne with the following lessons on YouTube:
One of the most popular sites for online learning, Coursera offers a wide variety of courses and degrees in accounting and finance, covering everything from the Principles of Financial Accounting to Advanced Financial Reporting.
Although these courses say ‘Enrol for Free,’ you will either be offered a trial period or limited access to course resources. You can get a discount if you are eligible for financial aid, but your best option is to purchase the course to get full certification.
However, Coursera is offering a number of free online courses in areas such as mental health and wellbeing, cloud technology and building on your soft skills. You don’t have to limit yourself to purely industry-related learning. In fact, skills including relationship building, teamwork and critical thinking are considered to be just as valuable as technical knowledge in accountancy. To find out about the in-demand skills for accountants in 2020, click here.
The Course Mix
This platform does not offer free courses but they have huge discounts at the moment, with up to 95% off selected professional certifications. Notably, within their Accountancy and Finance section, there are courses on everything from Bookkeeping, Tax Accounting and Anti-Money Laundering to Excel and Sage. All courses offered are CPD accredited.
To conclude this section, we have put together a list of courses relating to industry-related software. As well as brushing up on your core skills, it’s highly beneficial to familiarise yourselves with the ins and outs of key software programmes:
The Course Mix: Introductory to Advanced Excel Courses (Price ranges from £14 - £24)
FreeBookkeepingAccounting.com: Free Xero Basic Training (free)
Alison: Getting Started in QuickBooks Pro (2-3 hours, free)
Alison: Diploma in QuickBooks Pro 2017 (6-10 hours, free)
The Course Mix: Sage 50 Accounts Course (100 hours, £29.99)
Webinars are a great way to expand your knowledge without committing to a full course. Several organisations offer weekly and monthly webinars that focus on important skills, news and industry trends and insights. They typically last about an hour, and there are often opportunities to ask questions. You can listen to webinars live or on an archive, but either way, they are an excellent way to develop your industry knowledge.
Top sites for accountancy webinars include:
It’s worth exploring each of these sites to get an idea of the kind of themes they discuss, but most of them focus on topical issues and count for CPD units.
Like Webinars, podcasts are a great free source of industry knowledge and information. Podcasts tend to be more informal and conversational, so they are a great option for listening to before work or winding down at the end of the day. PlayerFM has an excellent selection of accounting podcasts, and Accounting Degree Review has a list of the Top 50 Best Podcasts for Accountants, which are definitely both worth browsing as a place to start.
Reputable podcasts include:
- In this popular weekly business podcast, the editors of Accounting Today speak with thought leaders and innovators from across the public accounting profession, discussing key technologies, regulations and procedures.
Journal of Accountancy
- The Journal of Accountancy Podcast is run by the Association of International Certified Accountants (AICPA), bringing a whole host of knowledge and expertise to audio. They discuss everything from accounting history to student loans and fraud prevention, offering a highly relevant, high quality listening experience.
- The Cloud Accounting Podcast is the #1 podcast in the world for accounting and bookkeeping. Hosts David Leary and Blake Oliver discuss all the latest insights around accounting and technology, featuring a weekly news roundup, as well as interviews with industry leaders.
Accounting Best Practices
- Hosted by Steve Bragg, who has an informal yet practical style, these podcasts cover a wide range of relevant topics around accounting standards, best practices, acquisitions and more.
ACCA Student Podcast
- The ACCA podcasts are for trainee accountants who are currently studying towards their professional qualification. These podcasts serve as a study aide, covering a range of areas including governance, ethics, strategy and environmental accounting in depth.
Big 4 Accounting Firms
- In this podcast, industry experts discuss the latest accounting news and tips on how to succeed at the Big 4 accounting firms. Packed full of current topical trends, practical advice and insider secrets, this podcast is suitable for accountancy professionals at every level. Whether you’re just starting your accountancy career or you’re a seasoned Big 4 veteran in need of a career boost, this podcast has all you need.
- Aimed at CPAs, hosts Jason Blumer and Greg Kyte discuss innovation in accounting, providing humorous and engaging insights along with the help of other sector professionals.
‘What’s your “And”?’
- John Garrett, the host of the Green Apple Podcast, humbly calls himself the “world’s funniest accountant”. As a former accountant and part-time stand-up comic, he talks about people who are succeeding both inside and outside the office.
Other Online Material
Finally, why not check out some free online journals, trade papers and magazines? There is often the option to subscribe to these publications via email, making expanding your accountancy and finance knowledge easy. Here are some of the key publications that you can benefit from as an accountant or finance professional:
Accountancy Age: This is a weekly news magazine for accounting professionals, delivering information around industry developments, technology, tax, regulation and the economy. They pride themselves on being able to produce the insight needed to drive businesses forward whilst enabling accountants to become efficient strategic advisors to clients.
PQ Magazine: This is a monthly magazine aimed at part-qualified accountants in the UK. They offer plenty of news, insights and resources on their website.
Accountancy Daily: A monthly magazine aimed at UK Chartered Accountants. Discover key insights around relevant topics and browse previous journals in the archive on their websites.
AccountingWEB: AccountingWEB.co.uk is the largest independent online community for accounting professionals in the UK, providing award-winning content and online engagement between members.
Accounting Today: This magazine delivers the latest accounting news and information for the public accounting profession, as well as insightful practice management advice.
International Accounting Bulletin: This is a global industry newsletter which focuses on the strategies, performance and activities of the world’s largest accounting firms.
The Accountant: This monthly magazine publishes a combination of news analysis, country surveys, interviews and other features.
If you prefer to learn more visually, it may also be worth exploring YouTube, as there are several channels on YouTube dedicated to accountancy and finance. We’ve put together a list of key channels below:
Accounting Stuff: Weekly video content to help Bookkeepers, students and small business owners learn the basics of accounting.
CPA Strength: Accounting for beginners’ tips (as well as bodybuilding advice, should you be interested).
ICAEW: Home to forums, talks and economic insight, the ICAEW channel is perfect for staying on top of industry developments.
ACCA: The ACCA YouTube channel features great content, from member interviews to exam technique and industry insights.
We hope that you find these free online courses and resources helpful. For more careers advice and tips for working from home, stay tuned to the GAAPweb careers blog.
Have we missed out any great free online courses, content or providers? If you have any advice on helping other accountants or finance professionals to work from home more efficiently, we’d love to hear from you. Speak to a member of our team at email@example.com for more information.