Records Management Analyst 

Training for Freelancers, Small Teams + CPA Firms

Since 2012 we’ve been developing the capabilities to collaborate with CPAs in the Philippines and small business clients in British Columbia. We needed to experiment with tools, to develop processes that make collaboration easier in order to provide practical, hands-on training that was relevant , both to staff and to our clients.

While our partners started out dealing with issues around staffing and collaboration for our own small CPA firm, our experimentation took us further than we expected. As CPAs we already knew that businesses had different accounting & finance needs – and different capabilities – as they grew. When we studied the statistical makeup of small business we discovered that most were much smaller than we’d been led to believe.

51% of Private Sector Employees Work for Companies with Fewer than 50 Employees

In order to understand the needs of small business, it’s critical to understand just how small, most small businesses really are. That’s why we developed our own in-house training to understand the makeup – in terms of size – of Canada’s small businesses. We found for example that more than 50% of those working in the private sector, worked in businesses with fewer than 50 employees. In fact about 33% work for companies with fewer than 20 employees.

That percentage ignores the more than 2.6 million Canadians that are self-employed.

How Big Are Canada’s 1.2 Million Small Businesses?

In fact – of Canada’s roughly 1.2 million employer businesses of all sizes – more than 95% average only about 5 employees – and that’s is only if we ignore the self-employed. The self-employed themselves account for about 2.6 million of all 3.8 million firms. What we learned had relevance for ourselves and our clients in:

3 key areas:

  • Accounting & Finance

  • IT & Records Management

  • Marketing & Communications


As a small CPA firm in public practice, we were expected to provide training in assurance (i.e. Reviews & Audits) to our students. However our clients simply don’t require assurance work – they’re just too small. The result is that most small public accounting firms don’t actually have students – and the principals end up doing too much bookkeeping themselves. So we developed our own RMA training program (RECORDS MANAGEMENT ANALYST) to align better with our own internal needs, and those of our small business clients.

In 2019 CPA Canada finally admitted defeat and cancelled their ACAF Program (Advanced Certificate in Accounting Finance). This was meant to be an intermediate level certification for industry and public practice. Unfortunately it didn’t meet our needs – or those of our clients.

The Advanced Certificate in Accounting and Finance program was created to provide an opportunity to upgrade technical accounting and finance skills for those wanting to advance their career.  

Designed by the Canadian CPA profession and launched in 2015, the ACAF is the only recognized national standard developed by CPA Canada specifically created for those seeking intermediate-level accounting and finance skills. Until 2017, it was delivered exclusively through CPA Canada and CPA regional schools.

In September 2017, the profession determined that post-secondary institutions were well-positioned to deliver the full suite of entry, technical, and applied courses for the ACAF program. This expanded delivery was intended to provide improved access and convenience for students, with CPA Canada administering the national exam.

While the CPA profession stands behind the quality of the ACAF program, it has not gained traction in the market, suggesting that other accounting diploma programs across the country are meeting the existing market needs.

For this reason, the CPA profession will begin winding down its involvement with the ACAF program effective immediately. We will work with our post-secondary partners to ensure that students near completion of the ACAF certificate will have an opportunity to finish outstanding coursework and write one of the last ACAF exams in September 2019, January 2020 or February 2021. No further exams will be offered and there will be no extensions past the 2021 exam for unsuccessful writers.

With respect to offering ACAF courses this fall/winter, it is up to the discretion of individual post-secondary institutions to determine if they will run ACAF courses.

Those students who are part-way through the program will be able to transition to the accounting program offered by their post-secondary institution. Students currently enrolled in the ACAF program should contact their school for more information regarding courses and program transition.

The CPA profession values the collaborative partnership we share with the post-secondary sector and we are committed to supporting accounting education in Canada. This change will have no impact on the CPA professional education program.

Training That Meets the Needs of Small Business & their Advisors


The principle is best exemplified by the story of Kelly Johnson in about 1960, handing a team
of Lockheed Skunk Works design engineers a handful of tools, with the challenge that the jet
aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under
combat conditions with only these tools.

Hence, the “stupid” refers to the relationship between the way things break and the sophistication
available to repair them.

The acronym has been used by many in the U.S. military, especially the U.S. Navy and
United States Air Force, and in the field of software development.

We set about developing relevant training in tax compliance, information systems and marketing communications and design. This isn’t academic training. We’ve learned at least as much from our clients, each other and our struggles with technology, than we have from years of mandatory professional development courses…