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PQ magazine December 2017 /


PQ AWARDS 2018 P13


You’ve still got time to nominate that special person that you want to win – it could even be you!


There’s good and bad news for the association’s PQs

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P15 New ACCA survey shows there’s still more work to be done in the workplace




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Just 5% of big UK accountancy firms have a CEO from a BAME background

How to tackle the difficult BPT paper



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News 06Diversity Just 5% of the UK’s big accountants are led by a BAME chief executive 08ACCA pass rates So what’s our verdict on the latest results? 10CIPFA/AAT initiative Pair join forces to create a new apprenticeship pathway Features, etc 05Mind your Ps&Qs Four-hour exams are just too long; why one ACCA PQ has big regrets; and confusion over CIMA’s status 12CIMA spotlight Institute defends pass rate policy after recent criticism from students 13Awards 2018 You’re running out of time to nominate for accountancy’s top awards

14ICAEW’s skills focus ACAs

get chance to develop their skills

15Ethics New ACCA survey shows there’s still more to be done

16ICAEW exams How to pass

December 2017 24AAT exams Everything you

need to know about the Advanced Diploma Synoptic 25The Troubleshooter How to tackle questions on gearing ratios and interest cover 26Financial management How to transform yourself into a foreign exchange guru 29Careers Life at the Clark Group; and our social media round-up 30Fun stuff – and our giveaways The columnists Robert Bruce Why climate change is the new Al Capone 6 Prem Sikka It’s time to abolish tax relief on corporate debt 8 Zoe Robinson Better use of data can improve your ability to learn 10 Subscribe to PQ magazine It’s FREE – see page 27 or go to ABC July 2015 – June 2016


the difficult BPT paper

18CIMA P1 Top advice on getting through this difficult paper

20ACCA exams If the exam

changes, then you need to change the way you approach it

Publisher’s statement: We send a digital issue of the magazine to an additional 9,927 requested readers

great tips from our friends at BPP

Free to subscribers who fulfil our terms of control Annual subscription: £35 (£50 overseas)

21ACCA tips We’ve got loads of 22Ask Caron PQ’s very own

‘Agony Aunt’ deals with your issues with the ACCA F5 paper

Ethics and trust Hats off to ACCA for the work it did making October its ‘ethics month’. As PQs, you couldn’t have failed to register that ACCA’s enhanced Ethics and Skills module went live on 31 October. Please tell me you knew! We would love to hear what you really think of it. PQ was lucky enough to have a preview, but you’ve had to sit it for real, so send us your feedback – the good and the bad. And we loved the ethics film festival ACCA held in Singapore. But it didn’t stop there. ACCA has produced a ground-breaking report Ethics and trust in a digital age, which puts the spotlight on where we are with ethics. President Brian McEnery highlights some of the key findings on page 15, and to be honest the results make for uncomfortable reading. The survey found one in five respondents had personally experienced pressure to compromise their ethical principles in the past 12 months. A worrying 46% of accountants also believe their organisation isn’t committed to instilling an ethical agenda. That has to be a worry! Perhaps not surprising in the current climate, we also discover 50% of accountants feel that people in a position of power act more unethically than others. Umm… Great giveaways As we say on our front cover, we have some great giveaways this month. Don’t miss the two free CIMA P1 HTFT resit courses, which will run on 2 December 2017. There’s more great stuff up for grabs on what we loosely call the ‘fun page’ (page 30). And watch out for the annual quiz in next month’s issue. What the future holds Finally, it’s the final call for our one-day conference looking at the future of accountancy. You need to go to to register. But be quick – we are nearly full to the rafters! Graham Hambly, PQ magazine editor –

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have your say PQ

email An hour too long I read with interest in the latest issue of PQ magazine that the new Strategic Business Leader exam will be four hours long (PQ, October 2017). Do the ACCA, in their wisdom, not realise it is not just the four hours of the exam (I often sit at my desk for four hours to complete an important task)? There is also the hour it will take me to drive from my home north of Leeds to the John Charles Centre for Sport in the south of Leeds, plus the 30 to 40 minutes that I will be sitting waiting for the exam to start. That’s a minimum

of five-and-a-half hours! Then there is the exam anxiety. I am what the examiners’ reports might refer to as “an able and well

prepared student”, but I still suffer with exam anxiety. I am yet to get a full night’s sleep before an exam. In all the threehour written papers I have run out of steam before the end, which does not bode well for a four-hour exam. I note that the ACCA offers the following helpful advice: “You should be well rested and had a good meal; so the energy consumed earlier in the day will be released throughout the four hours, keeping you both physically and mentally alert.” Easier said than done!

Unfortunately it is too late for me to do P1 and P3 instead. I have been working to a plan, and having completed F7 and F9 in September I am well on the way to completing my P2 and P4 studies, and am planning taking these in December and March. So I will have to find a way of getting the sleep I need to complete a fourhour exam in September 2018. Unless the ACCA sees sense: three hours is enough for any exam! Name and address supplied The editor says: I agree that four hours is a long time to sit and concentrate. I wonder if, under health and safety rules, you should be given screen breaks!

Our star letter writer wins a fantastic PQ memory stick! Broken by ACCA

I am regular reader of PQ and I feel I have to write to you about my feeling towards ACCA. I have successfully completed 13 out of 14 ACCA papers and am waiting for my P7 result. I am still looking for a job but have had no interviews. I’ve made several calls to many of the accountancy recruiters and made many job applications, but I have been rejected for more than 200 roles (everyone is asking for a minimum of six months’ experience). Now I feel very disappointed in myself for studying ACCA – no one wants to give me a chance to prove my talent. I will never recommend ACCA to anyone. I feel totally broken and helpless. I regret ever starting my ACCA journey. Name and address supplied

Chartered Financial Analyst. Hope that makes it clear!

A feedback plea

As the ACCA moves forward with CBEs, shouldn’t it be looking to provide us with more targeted exam feedback? I have failed the optional papers on numerous occasions and have become so downhearted. I am embarrassed to tell you just how many times I have taken the two exams. But where can I get real help about what I am doing wrong? The £52 exam administrative review is not a remarking service. It just adds up your marks again! And if I want to appeal against the outcome it costs another £52. Can the ACCA look at taking a giant leap forward and provide its students who marginally fail with some real feedback. Name and address supplied

I need

Status under threat?

I have been reading on LinkedIn that the CIMA qualification could potentially lose its chartered status because of the venture with AICPA, and that it isn’t valid for the ‘C’ in CGMA to stand for ‘chartered’ regardless as the award isn’t issued by CIMA. I can’t get a response from CIMA, so can PQ magazine give it a try for me? Name and address supplied

Holding out for a hero The editor says: You aren’t alone – CIMA says this question has been asked of them from a few ‘avenues’. President David Stanford has now gone on LinkedIn to provide a comprehensive answer to your question. He explains that the CGMA designation is awarded by

both CIMA and the American Institute of CPAs via a licence from the Association. However, he goes on to say that it is not a designation derived from the Royal Charter. There are, he points out, many similar credentials not derived from a Royal Charter – such as the

I have been watching The Tick and wondered if you were going to pick up on it. However, you used the wrong superhero on your cover last month. The Tick is the made-up hero for a delusional accountant. Our superhero is more a moth to the flame, so we are still waiting for a true accountancy superhero! James Gregory, by email

PQ Magazine Unit 3a, Kingfisher Heights, 2 Bramwell Way, Royal Docks, London E16 2GQ | Phone: 020 7216 6444 | Email: Website: | Editor/publisher: Graham Hambly | Advertising manager: Polly Thrasivoulou Associate editor: Adam Riches | Art editor: Tim Parker | Subscriptions: | Contributors: Robert Bruce, Prem Sikka, Zoe Robinson, Tony Kelly, Phil Gammon | Origination and print services by Classified Central Media If you have any problems with delivery, or if you want to change your delivery address, please email

Published by PQ Publishing © PQ Publishing 2017

PQ news

ROBERT BRUCE Taking the ‘Al Capone’ approach to climate change If you want to change people, or make them honest, a subtle approach is required. And accountants are surprisingly good at this. No one fears accountants, so they can get closer to the goal than most. The textbook example was how they dealt with Al Capone, the Chicago mobster of the 1930s. The cops struggled to nail him for his reign of terror, so they called for the accountants. He was jailed for simple tax evasion. The same process is starting in the US, at the heart of government, in Washington. The country has been engulfed by hurricanes, floods and fire. Yet politicians increasingly rebuff arguments that climate change should be taken seriously and dealt with. So a cross-party initiative was launched with the commission of a report from the Government Accountability Office. It concluded that, regardless of the arguments, all this was costing the economy a fortune and it was likely, looking at trends and figures, to get worse. This is how the accountants sneak in and change the arguments. Using the report’s findings and describing the Government Accountability Office as ‘the chief bean counter’, one of the senators pointed out that “we need to understand that as stewards of the taxpayer that climate is a fiscal issue and the fact that it’s having this big a fiscal impact on our federal budget needs to be dealt with”. It’s the same as the Capone story. Accountants turn it into a fiscal issue – and so keep the politicians honest. Robert Bruce is an award-winning writer on accountancy for The Times

ICAEW results

The Professional ICAEW exam sitting saw a big drop in the Financial Management paper pass rate this time around. The September paper is now taken on computer and the pass rate dropped to 65.8%. In June some

87.4% of sitters past this exam. students sat a total of 7,502 exams Students also seem to be in September, that’s an average of struggling with the Insurance 1.85 papers per sitter. In all some Business Planning paper, which 637 students passed the had the lowest pass rate in professional level at the session. September at 64.5%. ICAEW PROFESSIONAL LEVEK RESULTS By contrast some SEPTEMBER 2017 Sep 17 Jun 17 90.5% of Business Business Strategy 90.5% 89.0% Strategy sitters got a Business Planning: Banking 74.6% 85.4% pass. Audit & Business Planning: Insurance 64.5% 78.7% Assurance sitters also Business Planning: Tax 77.1% 79.3% achieved an Financial Management 65.8% 87.4% FA & Reporting – UK GAAP 71.3% 81.9% impressive 86.1% FA & Reporting – IFRS 80.3% 78.0% pass rate. 86.1% 81.8% Overall, some 4,055 Audit & Assurance

One out of 20 not a great stat

Just one of the UK’s 20 largest accounting firms is led by an executive with a Black, Asian and minority ethic (BAME) background, says Green Park and Operation Black Vote (OBV). And that one? Well it’s Rakesh Shaunak, group chairman of MHA MacIntyre Hudson. OBV’s Simon Woolley was scathing in his criticism of the firms. He said: “The findings are deeply troubling: accounting firms serve the whole business population and Touch of glass: Four beautiful stained glass windows have appeared at ICAEW’s Moorgate Place HQ. However, these windows are not so new! They are, in fact, the Henry Holiday’s windows, which were installed in the institute’s new hall in the 1890s. They were removed and sold in 1970 when the hall was enlarged, and ended up in the possession of the manager of Led Zeppelin, Peter Grant. They were reacquired by the ICAEW Foundation charity.

would be immeasurably more effective with a greater diversity of views to serve our increasingly multifaceted, multicultural society. Woolley felt that the findings paint a negative picture of opportunities for Britain’s black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to reach the very top jobs in the UK. Green Park’s Raj Tulsiani points out that the findings underline the reasons why leaders are being confronted with a steady erosion of

public trust in institutions that provide business advice. He went on to say: “For many the absence of diversity in the accounting sector is a clear signal that firms don’t understand the need to modernise to reflect their customers.” He wanted to know why the upper echelons of the leadership of the UK’s accounting sector in no way resembles the diverse constituents of British society. “It simply isn’t acceptable,” he said.

More synoptic tests please, begs tutor

AAT needs to increase the number of synoptic assessments it offers, says the Training Place’s Mary Ofili (pictured). She said the gaps between some sittings are just ‘too long’ for some students. She pointed out that the last advanced synoptic assessment window in 2017 is 27 November. Then AAT PQs have to wait until early February 2018 before they can sit again. “That’s just too long,” she ventures. There should, said Ofili, be a sitting in January at the very least. There are just six sitting a year for both the professional and advanced synoptic assessments. But Ofili believes the AAT now needs to bring these exams in line with the rest of the qualification.

In brief YouTube hits for HTFT This month saw the soft launch of a fantastic new resource for PQs – the HTFT Partnership YouTube channel. This is a fantastic new resource and there’s some great stuff there already for CIMA’s sitting the November case study and P1 exams. On top of that there are lots of core bookkeeping lecturers on 6

financial statements, assets, liabilities and the P&L account. Get online and subscribe. Synoptic advice AAT students sitting the advanced diploma synoptic exam may need to build up their management accounting knowledge, says the latest examiner’s report.

Premier’s Sam Hannigan said the examiner is worried that management accounting is an area students are either ‘neglecting or not understanding’. Students must not beef up their financial accounting knowledge to the detriment of MA. • See page 24 for an in-depth look at the last advanced synoptic. Accounting ‘T’ proposed The subjects for the new A-level equivalent Technical – or ‘T’ – qualifications have been

announced by the government. Digital, construction and education & childcare programmes will be the first three to be developed. Legal, finance and accounting T levels will be introduced in 2021. The content of the T levels will be developed by leading industry professionals from companies including Rolls-Royce, Fujitsu and EDF. ACCA’s John Cunningham and ACCA member and Lincoln University lecturer Jane Nellist will both be on the accounting T-level route planner. PQ Magazine December 2017

Accountancy college of the year

23 November 2017 | 9am-7pm Keyworth Centre, LSBU A conference looking to the future of the accountancy profession and impact emerging current issues will have. We welcome accountants, accounting students, individuals working in the accountancy profession, or connected with the sector An opportunity for CPD and networking across the sector and with our diverse student body.

For informal discussions about the event, please email Danusia Wysocki To register, please visit:

Lineup of speakers: Alan Hatfield, Executive Director, Strategy & Development, ACCA Mark Protherough, Executive Director, Learning & Professional Development, ICAEW Tony Margaritelli, chair of ICPA and member of the HMRC Agent Strategy Group Lea Watson, Employer Relationships and Apprenticeships Product Manager, AAT

Garry Carter, President and CEO, ICBGlobal Claire Bennison, Head of Sales and Marketing Western Europe, ACCA Pat Keogh, Managing Director, Pro-Recruitment Group Tom Eagle, Head of Finance Practice, Pro-Recruitment Group

Peter Noyce, Partner and Head of Legal Services, Menzies LLP Andy Miles, CEO of Think Marble Limited Maggie McGhee, Director of Professional Insights, ACCA David Oliver, founder of MyFirmsApp Mike Day, Education Director at Xero


Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Company

PQ news

PREM SIKKA Time to abolish tax relief on corporate debt Companies are using the tax shield on interest payments to avoid corporation tax. The key idea is for the UK entity to borrow money from a related party located in a low/no tax jurisdiction. The UK operation pays interest which reduces its taxable profits. The interest payments attract tax relief, but the recipient pays little or no tax. This legally permitted ruse is used by global giants such as Google and Apple and by others, too. For the last decade, Thames Water has been loaded with debt from entities in the Caymans and elsewhere. For the period 2007 to 2015, it paid £3.186 billion in interest and about £100,000 in corporation tax. Arqiva, a telecommunications company, is financed by shareholder loan notes bearing interest rate of 1314%. For the three years to June 2016, the company reported operating profits of £794 million. It made interest payments of £1.516 billion and has paid virtually no corporation tax for nearly a decade. Following the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development proposals, the Finance Act 2017 has restricted tax relief on interest payments to 30% of EBITDA. This may help, but won’t stem the tide of tax avoidance until tax relief on debt is abolished. Interest payments should not receive tax relief because they are a distribution and not a cost of production. Tax relief on interest payments is denied to individuals on the grounds that it distorts markets. The same logic should apply to corporate debt too. Prem Sikka is Emeritus Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex

ACCA pass rates usual mixed bag

Some ACCA students seem to have lost the ability to pass the audit exam papers. The P7 pass rate was the lowest for September at 31%, and the F8 pass rate slumped to 37% this time around. However, PQs should note that the advanced audit paper has been as low as 29% (September 2015).

The F8 pass rate was the lowest for all the ‘F’ papers this time around. In fact it is the lowest pass rate for this paper since December 2013. Incidentally, the best pass rate for F8 was 56%, but that was back in June 2012. PQ wondered whether the results were anything to do with the fact that F8 and P7 are ACCA EXAM RESULTS SEPTEMBER 2017 sat on the first day Sep 17 Sep 16 of the exam session. 43% 39% F5 Performance Management Our feedback F6 Taxation 48% 47% from September F8 F7 Financial Reporting 47% 48% was that sitters F8 Audit & Assurance 37% 44% found the MCQs F9 Financial Management 48% 47% tricky. Some said P1 Professional Accountant 53% 45% they struggled with P2 Corporate Reporting 50% 50% audit risk and P3 Business Analysis 55% 47% response element, P4 Adv Financial Management 35% 37% as it was “too P5 Adv Performance Management 32% 35% complex”. P6 Adv Taxation 33% 35% Students P7 Adv Audit & Assurance 31% 32% described P7 as

PQ wins ‘Luca’ at ICB awards PQ magazine’s Graham Hambly was on hand to pick up a coveted ‘Luca’ award at the recent ICB awards ceremony. The magazine won for its ‘Effective Use of Social Media’. Other winners on the night included Training Link and Kaplan in the training provider categories. HMRC won the Alan Cleverly OBE award for Small Business Support of the Year, and Paula Veysey-Smith was awarded the Luca for National Branch Speaker of the Year. Xero, Auto Entry and Sage also picked up gongs on the night.

UK banks on youth UK has reached its highest position in PwC’s Youth Workers Index. The UK is now 18th out of 35 OECD countries. The index found that over the next 15 years up to 28% of UK young workers’ jobs could be at risk of automation. This compares with 39% in the US, 38% in Germany and 24% in Japan. PwC’s John Hawksworth said: “It’s is encouraging that the UK has improved young people’s job prospects significantly in recent years, but the levels of young people not in education, employment or training are still too high relative to top international performers like Germany [with its] better vocational education systems.” 8

“brutal”, with the normal terror of time pressure. Many PQs also admitted to spending too long on question 1. What will please both students and the ACCA about this sitting are the pass rates for P1, P2 and P3. With the new case study replacing P1 and P3 come September 2018, students need to pass both these papers to avoid sitting to new exam. The 55% P3 pass rate is the highest ever. P1’s 53% success rate is also equal highest for this paper.

Chelsea star with a plan B

Prize guy: PQ’s Graham Hambly with the ICB’s Garry Carter The Lucas are the ‘Oscars’ of the bookkeeping profession and the awards are exclusive statuettes of Luca Pacioli, the Cistercian monk who is credited with inventing the process of double entry bookkeeping that endures today.

Deloitte wins Mumsnet award Deloitte recently picked up a Mumsnet Family Friendly award for its return to work programme. Managing Partner for Talent Emma Codd said its return to work programme was launched in 2014 and was an industry first. Since then it has enabled 39 women to re-enter the workplace. She explained: “These women bring not only their skills from their previous roles but also those that they have built during their time out of the workplace.” EY sanctioned EY and former senior partner Julian Gray have been fined and reprimanded after admitting misconduct over the audit of Tech Data in 2012. EY and Gray, a member of the ICAEW,

Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante has revealed that he is a trained accountant. He said he worked towards the qualification because he was not sure if he would make it as a footballer. Kante explained: “I was at Boulogne in the second team – the sixth and then the fifth division. I wasn’t professional, so I kept studying because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make a living as a footballer.” When he went up to the first team he became a professional, so stopped studying. He said: “I got my qualification in accountancy, but now I prefer to concentrate on football!” We bet!

admitted that their conduct fell significantly short of the standards reasonably expected of a member and a member firm, and that they failed to act in accordance with the ICAEW’s Fundamental Principle of Professional Competence and Due Care. EY received a reprimand and a fine of £1.8m. Gray received a reprimand and fine of £59,000. EY also had to pay a sum of £225,000 towards costs. KPMG launches new VoC KPMG UK has launched a new voice tool in collaboration with Microsoft, its Customer Experience Cloud. It uses both customer and operational insights to enable organisations to improve employee experiences and achieve better financial returns from CX investment. PQ Magazine December 2017

A new way to qualify as a professional accountant The Level 7 Accountancy/Taxation Professional Apprenticeship is a new approach to professional training. You can become qualified sooner and your employer can access funding to pay for your studies. With our expertise in this field, we will ensure you develop the relevant knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to succeed in your role. Why is the Level 7 Apprenticeship perfect for you and your employer? • Training costs covered by Apprenticeship Levy payments or 90% funded for non-levy payers • Programmes open to new and existing students • A choice of professional qualifications within the programme (ACCA, CIMA, ICAEW) • Ensures you have the support to develop your professional skills and behaviours to a high level, beyond what is required in the professional exams As an award-winning training provider and with our expertise in professional education apprenticeships, we are already trusted by leading firms to deliver their apprenticeships.

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PQ news

ZOE ROBINSON How better use of data can improve the learning experience In the modern world data and information are plentiful, yet to date there has been little use of so-called ‘big data’ to help and support tutors in the classroom. How good would it be if the tutor could be provided with rich information about the performance of their students, quickly and accurately? Think about it; if a tutor knew only 42% of their class gave the correct answer to a question and that this was significantly less than the average achieved by other classes, they could decide to revisit the topic, or perhaps even question the way in which it was taught. Of course, test result information has always been available, but it is limited, and not necessarily timely, rich or contextual. In 2015, the Gates Foundation produced a report that argued tutors should be provided with data at the ‘speed of teaching’ and include more than simply test results; for example, giving details of students’ past academic record, social, behavioural, and cultural experiences. In practical terms, making such large amounts of data available in a format easily consumed remains challenging. But with new technologies comes the ability to collect data more easily, and that is a very positive step in the right direction.

Zoe Robinson is Learning and Programmes Director at Kaplan Financial

CIMA pass rates still looking good CIMA’s latest pass rates are out and the good news is the rise in August’s operational case study to 53%. It was 45% in February and 47% in May. Other August case study pass rates are also holding up nicely, with a management pass rate of 68%. The strategic pass rates fell slightly, but it is still 62%.

CIMA exam chief Steve Flatman said the operational results were simply a case of the cohort being strong, and the fact that they answered the questions better than those who sat in May. The OT pass rates have also settled down, including the traditionally tough P1 and P2 exams. The first-time pass rate of P1 sitters is up to 50% and for P2 it is 53%. Flatman CIMA CASE STUDY AUGUST 2017 EXAM PASS RATES stressed that his Aug 17 May 17 Feb 17 Nov 16 key advice is for Operational 53% 47% 45% 67% students to sit Management 68% 73% 62% 71% their OTs as soon Strategic 62% 66% 64% 65% after they finish

CIMA OT pass rates – 1/10/16–30/9/17 First time Total Overall E1 79% 76% 88% P1 50% 45% 67% F1 72% 68% 84% E2 86% 84% 94% P2 53% 46% 76% F2 54% 50% 78% E3 68% 64% 83% P3 59% 53% 79% F3 60% 55% 79% their courses. After two to three weeks the pass rates fall. He said: “We would encourage students to be very targeted and take their exams even if they don’t feel up to it. You will never be more ready after finishing a course.” He went on to stress that low pass rates should not be a badge of honour. He said: “Exams should be fair, and students should know clearly what is being examined and how long it will take to study to get that pass.”

EY admits to pay gaps

On their way: The AAT packed them in for the recent Botswana Achievement Ceremony. Over 250 people descended on the Gaborone International Convention Centre to honour those who have completed their AAT and bookkeeping qualifications

EY has announced that it has a 14.8% gender pay gap. That compares with the national ONS median of 18.1%. It has estimated that this gap has improved by around 10 percentage points since 2012 as a result of the firm’s “sustained focus on progress in diversity and inclusion”. EY has also published its ethnicity pay gap for the UK, which has been calculated at 9.8%. PwC recently revealed its BAME staff earn 12.8% less than other staff. EY said a pay gap will persist until there is equal or proportionate gender and ethnic minority representation at every level and job role in the firm. Currently, it has more men at senior levels and fewer in less senior roles.

CIPFA and the AAT create apprenticeship pathway

CIPFA and the AAT have teamed up to provide the complete public finance apprenticeship pathway. They aim to create a seamless apprenticeship programme, which makes a lot of sense. Designed within the CIPFA Education & Training Centre (CETC), the apprenticeship pathway will take students initially

through AAT’s Advanced (Level 3) and Professional (Level 4) Diplomas in Accounting and then all the way through CIPFA’s established public sector finance professional qualifications. Students joining the scheme will benefit from having all their classes taught at the CIPFA training centre in London, by a CIPFA qualified

CIMA exemptions for LSBU CIMA has granted 10 exemptions to London South Bank University (LSBU) students studying the BA (Hons) in Accounting and Finance. This means they will only be required to pass six exams to qualify as a chartered management accountant.

Instruments and to IAS 28 Investments in Associates and Joint Ventures to aid implementation. The amendments to IFRS 9 should allow companies to measure particular prepayable financial assets with so-called negative compensation at amortised cost or at fair value through other comprehensive income if a specified condition is met – instead of at fair value through profit or loss. The amendments to IAS 28 clarify that companies account for long-term interests in an associate

tutor with public sector finance experience. CIPFA CEO Rob Whiteman said: “By collaborating with AAT we can now take public finance apprenticeship students from the first steps along their career pathway all the way to being a Chartered Public Finance Accountants (CPFA).”

In brief Sage unveils Business Cloud Sage has launched Sage Business Cloud, claiming it is “the only cloud platform that businesses will ever need”. The firm says its purpose-built solution offers a powerful set of cloud products for small business accounting and advanced financial management, to industry-specific enterprise management software. The core products include payroll, payments and banking. Sage is also embedding AI and machine learning into Business Cloud. 10

IASB amendments The International Accounting Standards Board has issued amendments to IFRS 9 Financial

or joint venture – to which the equity method is not applied – using IFRS 9. New foundation qualification The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) has launched Foundation Qualifications in both personal taxation and business taxation.These new qualifications sit alongside the Foundation in VAT compliance and means the ATT now offers foundation level qualifications in all the main areas of tax. PQ Magazine December 2017



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PQ CIMA spotlight

Letters in recent issues of PQ have highlighted students’ concern with the way it publishes its pass rates. Here CIMA’s Jackie Durham puts the institute’s side of the story…


et’s be clear, the pass rates are generally good; we are proud of them, and proud of our students who are achieving them. We are definitely not trying to “get one over” on our students; we know you are all too bright for us to get away with any shenanigans! So let’s look at the facts. We supply three ‘pass rates’ per subject. This aids transparency in that however you want to evaluate progression, we publish the data you need. So let me explain the three different pass rate analyses we offer. We have the first-time pass rate, which will be of most interest to candidates new to CIMA or to a particular subject. This is the simple number of candidates who pass the subject at their first attempt. These figures are very healthy, ranging from a high of 86% for E2 to 49% at P1. I believe that these strong pass rates reflect fair exams that reward effective learning. Next, there is the overall pass rate, which is the percentage of individual students who

Putting the record straight attempted and eventually passed, whether it took them one, two or more attempts. This is generally the highest of the pass rates because it indicates overall progression. Sadly, not all students pass an exam at the first attempt, but for those who stick with it, reflect on their performance and make appropriate adjustments to their revision or exam technique, most will go on to pass. These overall pass rates, which range from a remarkable 94% at E1 to a very respectable 68% at P1, are very encouraging, especially for anyone who has failed but is committed to doing better next time. They tell us that although candidates may be underprepared for their exam first time around, many of them learn from the experience and pass after a short period of reflection. This is helped, of course, by the fact that our exams are consistent for all candidates, regardless of when they are attempted. Finally, we have the total pass rate, which is produced by taking the total number of exams passed and dividing by the total number of exams taken, including repeated attempts by some candidates in the

reporting period. It does not reflect the number of candidates taking those exams accurately. All three pass rates are based on data from the past 12 months. None of these measures is an exact match with pass rate/performance data you may be used to from other exams, even our own case study exams, where large numbers of candidates take the exam in a very short period of time. In those measures, you have one result for each candidate, whether it’s a first or subsequent attempt. From a candidates’ point of view, I’d think the two most relevant measures are the first time pass rate and the overall pass rate. Unlike the PQ reader who raised the issue, I don’t find the ‘total pass rate’ of any real interest, but I would find the overall pass rates encouraging even for the more challenging exams in the P pillar. I also think the results for all subjects at the Strategic level are something to be proud of. But as I always say, don’t take my word for it. In response to a blog I wrote earlier this year about pass rates (which were similar to the current ones), our students variously described them as “encouraging results”; “amazing statistics”; and “ …a big relief for those thinking to start CIMA, if these people can pass the exam, why not me?”. For the latest pass rate data see page 10 or visit CIMAconnect. PQ • Jackie Durham, CIMA

We hope you enjoy your festive break and come back recharged for 2018 The role of the professional accountant is becoming more important than ever. That’s why we’re evolving the ACCA Qualification to keep it current and maximise your employability to give you the professional edge in a changing world. Key changes include: Session CBEs Available now Ethics and Professional Skills module Available now Strategic Professional Changes coming in 2018

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PQ Magazine December 2017

Awards 2018 PQ


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


SHINE Make your CV stand out with a PQ magazine award shortlisting. It’s time to get your entry in



t has been 15 years in the making, but now the annual PQ magazine awards are the place to be seen come February each year. All we need now is your nominations for the PQ Awards 2018. Our awards are all about you, or the people who have helped you on the way. They really are a unique opportunity to thank the people who perhaps never received the praise they deserve. Our awards are also totally independent – our judges make sure of that. This means those used to winning awards don’t get an automatic prize with us – everyone is judged on their merits. So come on, get nominating, and get your place booked at the Café de Paris. What we need from you is just 250 words on why

you think your nominee should make our shortlist. Remember, you can nominate yourself, now is not the time to be shy. When you enter make it clear which category you are entering and do provide supporting evidence separately if you feel it is necessary. But it is those 250 words that will win it for you! You can download the nomination form from by clicking on the ‘pq awards’ bar on the home page. Or just email us your entry directly to, or you can post your form to: The Editor, PQ magazine, Unit 3a, Kingfisher Heights, 2 Bramwell Way, Royal Docks, London E16 2GQ. The deadline for nominations is Friday 1 December 2017 – so get on your bike! PQ


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PQ Magazine December 2017


PQ ICAEW skills

Keeping ahead of the robots Keeping ACAs’ skill set ‘on the mark’ is the job of Alison Stiles. PQ magazine recently went to ICAEW HQ to talk to her about future-proofing the professional qualification


he ICAEW is fully aware that it needs to work hard to ensure its PQs qualify with the skills that tomorrow’s employers need. As it says: “The commercial environment in which ICAEW ACA students train is changing.” That is a bit of an understatement! ICAEW’s Alison Stiles is one of the key people tasked with future-proofing the ACA qualification and we wanted to find out how her ‘skills project’ was shaping it. She said that you only have to open a newspaper to see that a lot of accountants’ routine work will be taken on by the robots. At the same time there is going to be a reduction in the need for compliance work. This means, Stiles said, the ICAEW plans to put greater focus on the development of professional skills, which will equip its young professionals to work with the ‘outputs of automated processes’. Accountants will also become part of specialist teams. She pointed to a recent PwC YouTube posting that looked

at the future of work in 2030. “They say it is going to be less about having a career and more about developing a bundle of skills that people need,” she said. So when ICAEW came to update the professional skills it assesses in the workplace and in its exams it wanted to reflect the research, and to bump up its coverage of some of these key skills themes. It even produced a nice set of definitions, which become effective from 1 January 2018 (see below). Stiles stressed that technical skills still have a massive part to play – but so does curiosity and critical thinking. ICAEW KEY SKILLS Adaptability: The ability to recognise that business is in a constant state of change and evolution, to be curious about this, and to be flexible and adjust thinking, approach or methods as required. Insight: The ability to analyse and interpret data and think critically to

Stiles: ‘Trainee accountants have to develop a bundle of skills’

provide commercial insight. Collaboration: The ability to partner and consider diverse perspectives to create successful outcomes while being accountable for self. Perspective: The ability to take a holistic view of business issues and decisions, considering external stakeholder interests and enterprise-wide implications. Learning and reflection: The ability to reflect on experience and learn to be more efficient and effective PQ . • Since our interview Alison has become Head of Business Development at ICAEW. For more information go to

Get ready for F5-F9 session CBEs Employers have told us that using spreadsheets and word processing tools are essential for modern finance professionals. That’s why we’ve developed computer-based exams (CBEs) to enhance your digital skills and better prepare you for the workplace. From March 2018, F5-F9 exams will only be available as CBEs. There are lots of resources to help you prepare and make sure you’re ready.

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PQ Magazine December 2017

ACCA & ethics PQ



n our latest innovation, ACCA’s new Ethics and Professional Skills module went live on 31 October. Leading up to the new module’s launch we published some research into ethics in the workplace across the UK and Ireland. The survey revealed that a nearly a quarter of workers have been put under pressure to act unethically at work (agreed mostly by those aged under 35). Examples include talking about a colleague behind their back; misusing the company’s time; lying to hide mistakes; bullying; stealing from work; taking credit for work they did not do; using bias to promote or avoid promoting someone; and using a position of power to harass someone. The survey also found half of British workers have encountered some kind of unethical situation at work, and more than 50% thought where they worked was not committed to ethical behaviour. Despite a feeling that ethical behaviour at work is in short supply, employees themselves do not appear to want to do anything about it. Nearly half of people questioned said they would turn a blind eye to unethical acts if they witnessed them. Today’s organisations need to be alert to the role of professional ethics. We are 10 years on from the start of the global financial crisis, yet economies, communities and individuals around the world are still living with the effects of 2007/08. There has never been a more important time for those in business to consider the role of ethics. The research showed that organisations are facing a challenge, as 46% believe their organisation isn’t committed to instilling PQ Magazine December 2017

A new report from ACCA exposes a worrying level of unethical behaviour in the workplace in the UK. ACCA’s Brian McEnery explains all an ethical agenda. Organisations have a responsibility to engage with their staff to ensure they act ethically. Professionals in today’s business landscape are trusted by the public and clients to commit to a high standard of ethical behaviour and always ‘do the right thing’, especially in light of the financial crisis. That commitment grows further in today’s automated age, where human judgment becomes more integral to how decisions are made. When faced with a data breach or a company’s exposure to supply chain irregularities, customers and investors won’t look to a systems bot to blame. Eliminating unethical behaviour Given the complexity of many financial transactions, as well as the importance of best practice to business and society, professional bodies have a particular responsibility to uphold and lead on ethical issues. Eliminating unethical behaviour is a goal for many organisations, from exposing multi-million-dollar financial scams to stopping dangerous practices. It’s a problem being faced worldwide that ultimately destroys integrity and thus undermines ethical behaviour. Speaking up or blowing the whistle is a major step in highlighting wrongdoing and unethical behaviour in organisations. Ultimately, it is organisations and not individuals who are responsible for ensuring whistleblowers feel secure enough to speak up. Through robust processes and a commitment to visible

• Brian McEnery is ACCA Global President

action, employees will see that wrongdoing will be dealt with promptly, fairly and in a transparent manner, and will therefore be far less likely to make an issue a public one. Over half of the respondents felt that people in a position of power act more unethically than others. Workers have witnessed their boss or superior talking about a colleague behind their back (26%), taking credit for work they haven’t done (21%) and witnessed them bullying at work (17%). These kinds of behaviours are detrimental. While organisations will have set out rules and codes to create the right behaviours in the organisation, it is staff who are central to whether, and how, they are followed. An organisation’s culture is set out from the top. Effective leadership results from a trustworthy system of accountability, and promoting accountability at executive board level is essential to a healthy corporate culture that features sound ethical practices. Again, the effectiveness of a speak-up arrangement depends on managers at every level of the organisation. Employees expect managers to listen to them and take necessary action in response to concerns raised. When employees think that management is neglecting their concern they are more likely to consider taking the issue to a regulator or other external parties. Sadly, unethical behaviour is never far from the headlines. From banking to the film industry, the consensus must be made that both those at the top and those entering professions should demonstrate their commitment to showing that doing the right thing also means doing better business. PQ 15

PQ ICAEW exams

Passing the BPT paper A

s the final tax paper in the ICAEW qualification, BPT can seem pretty daunting. It’s designed (along with Business Strategy) as a ‘bridge’ between the Professional and Advanced stage, and involves developing your professional skills, along with learning significant amounts of new knowledge. As BPP’s subject matter expert on the paper, here are my ‘top tips’ for passing BPT.

Remember that it’s open book There’s simply no point in committing to memory a detailed list of conditions or facts when you can just look them up as and when you need to. Practise answering questions by using your material rather than what’s in your head; to do this you need to ensure that your open book material is organised in such a way that you can find what you need, quickly. Use whatever system works for you (which won’t necessarily be the same as your friends’!). It’s all about applying your knowledge Merely stating a fact copied from your notes (or, indeed, the model answer to a different question) very rarely gains marks at BPT. You need to use your technical knowledge to help the taxpayer in the question by applying that knowledge to their circumstances. The more times you use the word ‘because’ the better – you are demonstrating that you’re applying your knowledge to say why, for example, a particular relief may be available, or why you would (or indeed wouldn’t) recommend claiming it. Words are more important than numbers Calculations of tax liabilities are what Tax Compliance was all about. For BPT we still sometimes need to calculate tax, but typically in the context of comparing liabilities in order to make a recommendation. There will never be enough marks for just performing calculations to enable you to pass the exam; the calculation should only be performed if the examiner has told you to (by using the verb ‘calculate’, for example), or if the full calculation is the only way to be able to give correct advice. Calculations should be a means to an end, not your whole answer to a question. Plan your question before you start writing A little time invested in reading and planning


Jenny Gilbert has some top tips on how to get through this tough exam can really maximise your marks; by enabling you to identify all the examiner has asked you to do, and the relevant information you need to complete those tasks. The best approach is to actively read the question, starting with the requirements. These give you an idea of how you will be using the data in the question, and what to look out for. Annotate the question, or if you prefer, draw a quick diagram; key facts about the individual(s) or companies in the question, with a group structure if it isn’t given to you. Having the key information in one place will save you time re-reading the question. Key facts should be things like: dates of all relevant events, ownership percentages of companies, ages of individuals, and residence status. Break each requirement down into parts (perhaps with different coloured highlighters). Note that each ‘and’ gives you another job to do, then you can tick each part as it’s done. That way you’ve hit the whole marking grid. Talk about the right taxes Very frequently in BPT we are asked to explain the ‘taxation’ implications of a transaction or event taking place. You need to remember that often a transaction will have lots of different taxation implications. Those taxes will be different depending on the entity carrying out the transaction (is it a person or a company?). You might like to try listing all the taxes in the BPT syllabus across the page, crossing off the

irrelevant ones (for example, inheritance tax is never going to be relevant to a company), and thinking, then writing, about each of the others. Beware though: sometimes the examiner tells you to ignore a certain tax (for example VAT or NIC). Follow the instructions – you might be writing perfectly correct information, but if the examiner has told you to ignore it you’ve just wasted some of your precious 2.5 hours! Don’t ignore the ethics There will always be an ethical dilemma in the BPT exam, and it will be worth between five and 10 marks. It is typically given as a separate requirement, and is sometimes linked to the tax issues within the question. The examining team, at their annual tutor conference, always make the point that the candidates who have marginally failed could have passed if only they had produced a better answer to the ethical dilemma. So make sure you give yourself enough time to produce a fully explained answer along the lines of: what is the issue? What fundamental principles are affected? What actions would you recommend? Bear in mind that your position, either within the organisation or as an external adviser, may affect what actions you may take. PQ • Jenny Gilbert is a tutor at BPP Professional Education and subject manager for ICAEW Business Planning: Taxation

PQ Magazine December 2017

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PQ CIMA exams

The art of passing P1 P1 has a pass rate of just 50%, and Kate Williams has some top tips and advice to make sure you aren’t one of the disappointed


e have written previous articles on CIMA P1, highlighting the pass rate (50% for first time passes – so for every student who passes first time, there is a disappointed one), setting out study and revision tips to help you in your preparation to sit the exam, and provided a series of questions from each section to test yourself with (still available – email In this article, I want to elaborate on our tips, going into more detail on how successful students prepare themselves for the P1 exam. In our experience, successful students know where they are going and what to expect on the way – that is they understand the syllabus learning outcomes and understand the definitions of the verbs CIMA use. The CIMA P1 syllabus has four topics, each with a specific weighting. This should give you a clue as to where the majority of questions in the exam will come from, and will also give you an idea about how to apportion your time. Another successful student trait is that they know why they are studying and they have a plan of action. Plans typically set out what reading, watching of videos, classes and question practise they are going to engage in. On average, successful students spend one hour a day studying – being careful, however, to work in 45 minute blocks with a 15-minute break between blocks. We think it is fair to say that if you ask anyone for tips on how to pass an Objective Test paper they will say “question practice, and lots of it; mocks, exam kits, the lot!” It may not shock you to learn that we agree with this, but we would like to offer one subtle difference: outside of mock exams, split your questions into learning outcomes/syllabus topics and don’t just attempt them once – have a go at the questions, check your answers and then re-visit the same questions a week or two later (under exam conditions) to see if you have improved. At HTFT we have a saying – ‘practice makes permanent’. Remember, spend some time to make sure you understand where you went wrong


and make the necessary adjustments before attempting the questions again. This re-visiting of questions will force you to develop a greater understanding of the syllabus (as you check your answers and correct your mistakes) and move you away from just marking right or wrong. Excellent students, as they go through question practice, also take time (especially with ‘select all that apply’ questions) to understand why the other answers are incorrect. There are times during revision where it is a good idea to test yourself (using recall) to see what really has stuck. Start with a blank piece of paper and see what you can remember – with P1 it is a good idea to see if you can recall the shorthand pro formas. Why not use this method to help you build a pro forma sheet you can reproduce on those lovely plastic sheets during your exam? Treat your mocks like real exams – including

timings. At HTFT, we talk about a system of rounds. Go through the exam attempting the questions you know the answers to first and flagging the rest, maybe noting down the level of difficulty. Then, next time through, attempt the questions you have flagged as next level of difficulty up, and so on – the idea behind this is that you don’t get stuck on one question and leave questions at the end you could have scored on. In summary, the six critical success factors of successful students are: 1. Know what you have to achieve. 2. Get into a routine. 3. Don’t just practise questions once. 4. Spend time recalling what you know. 5. Mirror your mocks to the exams. 6. Get settled on an exam technique and stick to it. PQ • Kate Williams is HTFT’s P1 specialist

CIMA P1 resit offer

HTFT Partnership has developed a £99 CIMA P1 Resit package for those who have sat the exam, and they are giving away TWO free places to PQ magazine readers. The HTFT CIMA P1 Resit course (which will run on Saturday 2 December 2017) will help you identify the areas to work on and provide a comprehensive package of exam-focused questions. You will be asked to sit an online mock exam, and then spend time with our P1 tutor Kate Williams working through the mock, focusing on the questions where additional support is required. The session is recorded, so you can watch it back, and following it you will be provided with two more online mock exams to work through. Email for the chance to win a free place – head up your email ‘HTFT P1’.

PQ Magazine December 2017

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PQ ACCA exams


s examinations move into the digital world, leaving behind paper and pen, we are seeing other changes as well. Objective tests and case studies are now reasonably well established – ACCA will be introducing its case study in September 2018 – but a by-product of some of these changes is that knowing exactly what or how a subject is examined has become a lot more difficult. This is partly down to the nature of the exam – you can’t provide an exact replica of a past exam question if it is an objective test. Remember, objective test questions are effectively randomly selected from a bank and, on the whole, should be different for each student. This means that at best we can only see a sample of what the exam questions look like, updated from time to time. And for case studies, even though past questions are published, they offer only limited insight, as new issues help inspire the examiner to set questions not asked previously. The problem is compounded by a reluctance of some bodies to provide past exam papers as they have done previously. ACCA, for example, are offering past papers in both June and December but they are a mix of previous exams, not the exact questions as they appeared on the day. This, of course, is the prerogative of the professional body, and it’s worth saying this practice is not just to make life difficult for students. Using past papers has often been seen as a means of predicting what is going to be in the next exam, which helped narrow down what needs to be learned. But, from the examining bodies’ perspective, and you could argue the employers’, they want students to study widely and gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. It’s true that if you were to study a specific topic and a question comes up in the exam on that topic your chances of gaining a higher mark is increased. But that was never the real value of offering tips, which was more to do with helping focus attention on key areas at an important stage in the learning process, and practising questions rather than simply reading the book.

Focus is important You still need focus; there has to be emphasis on key areas in order to ‘chunk’ the content so that it is more easily learned. That emphasis will now have to come from articles written by examiners, examiner reports and syllabus weightings. These weightings, and perhaps even the learning outcomes, will 20

If the exam changes how you study has to change too, says Stuart Pedley-Smith

be our guide. As far as question style is concerned, that knowledge will have to be gleaned from the questions and answers published. It may not be ideal but it’s the best we can do for now. It would be helpful if the professional bodies could supply more information about how the objective test exam is designed; for example, the number of ‘difficult’ questions included (questions are graded as to the level of difficulty), or whether there an equal mix of calculation and narrative questions, a maximum word count for a question, and so on. Exam preparation – what can you do? The good news is that in some ways little has changed. Revision is still vital, question practise essential and the process of what has to be done in the run up to the exam is similar. The exam has to comply with the syllabus weighting, which means you should take the topics and prioritise them using the weighting as a guide. Then look within those topics and check if there are examiner articles or any specific areas highlighted as being poorly attempted in the past. For objective tests, this is not as powerful as it used to be, but it will still help give some focus. The next step is to organise your

practice questions in line with the syllabus, although you will find that most published question banks are already structured in this way. You are then ready to start working through the questions, very much as you would have in the past. For objective test, it’s all about volume – you need to cover as many different variations on ways of asking a question relating to a particular topic. In addition, make sure you practise answering questions online, as you don’t want to turn up to the exam and be confused by how different it feels. If your exam is a case study, it’s worth looking at a couple of past cases to give an idea of style and volume, and to get a feel for what good answers look like. But most of your effort needs to go into the current case, exploring as many angles as possible. Although in theory anything can be asked, analysing and working through the main themes is a big help – for the case to have credibility there are only so many worthy questions to ask. One final thought: exams may change but they are equal. Everyone is in the same boat but by taking the right approach you will be giving yourself a better chance of exam success. PQ • Stuart Pedley-Smith is Head of Learning at Kaplan Financial PQ Magazine December 2017

ACCA exam tips PQ

Winter is coming and with them the ACCA December exams. Here are some helpful tips from top tutor BPP

P1 • The idea of section A’s one 50marker is to test all three main syllabus areas. This question is typically broken down into four written requirements. • There are four professional marks available here too. • Still use the notional 15 minutes to plan the big 50-marker question above all others! • Read the examiner’s articles. Recent exams have tested his features on corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy and strategic CSR. • Stakeholder, ethical and other CSR theories as well as the use of risk, control and governance syllabus content, especially relating to board directors, remuneration and reporting. • Bribery and corruption, environmental risk or poor ethical stance could feature here, too. P2 • Preparation statement of financial position. • A group statement of profit of loss and other comprehensive income, which may include a foreign subsidiary, discounted activities, disposals and/or acquisitions. • Expect some accounting complications, such as financial instruments, pensions, share-based payment and impairments. • There is sure to be discursive requirements on a linked accounting adjustment and social/ ethical/moral aspects of corporate reporting. • A multi-part question covering a range of topics or a theme such as fair value measurement, deferred tax, foreign currency transactions, financial instruments, pensions, share-based payments, non-current assets, borrowing costs, the effect of accounting treatments on earnings per share or ratios. • Industry-based question testing a

range of standards, such as accounting policies and the framework, leases, grants, IFRS for SMEs, reorganisations, provisions, events after the reporting period and related parties. • A discussion question looking at current issues in corporate reporting and problems with existing standards. Look at capital reporting, revision of the conceptual framework, classification in P&L vs OCI, improvements to disclosure, regulatory issues over adoption and consistent application of IFRSs, implementation issues, application of the definition of control and significant influence, improvements in performance measurement, integrated reporting, revenue recognition and leasing (phew!). • Expect elements of group accounting, especially if Q1 is a statement of cash flow question. P4 • Q1: Project appraisal (domestic and overseas). • Business valuations. • Both of these areas are likely to include cost of capital calculations. • Risk management – as an aspect here, eg value at risk, real options, hedging and risk mapping.

• Q2-4: risk management (currency or interest rate). • Business reorganisation. • Real options. • Ethical and general financing issues (dividend policy). P5 • Q1: data analysis using KPIs/EVA. • Transfer pricing ratios, analysis of quality related costs and ABC. • Performance management frameworks (building block, performance pyramid or balanced scorecard). • Q2-4: Quality management. • Information reporting (for example, CE+SFs and KPIs). • Application of strategic models (PEST, Porter’s 5 forces, the value chain). • HR frameworks (reward and apprasial systems). • Risk management and environmental management accounting. P6 • Groups of companies involving overseas aspects and losses. • Unincorporated business particularly loss relief or involving a partnership, basis period rules should also be expected. • Capital gains tax versus IHT, including availability of reliefs.

Are you ready to go? Are you exam-ready?

• Overseas aspects of income tax, CGT, IHT or corporation tax. • Personal service company. • Share schemes. • Company purchase of own shares. • Enterprise investment schemes/seed, EIS/venture trusts. • Takeover. • VAT – partial exemption or land and buildings or transfer of a going concern or overseas transactions. • Transfer of trade versus sale of subsidiary. • Disincorporation relief. • Pension contributions. • Patent box, research and development expenditure. P7 • Planning, risk assessment, evidence gathering and practice management issues using a scenario where audit client details are presented. • A non-audit engagement such as prospective financial information or due diligence, or an audit completion or consolidated groups. • Audit evidence and financial reporting issues. • Practice management, ethics and quality control and reporting, including completion and communication. PQ • For our F5 to F9 tips go to


These tips should only be used in conjunction with proper study. We cannot guarantee that these topics will appear in the actual exam as we have not seen the exam papers. Examiners are not predictable so it is vital that all core syllabus areas are revised fully.


You need PQ Magazine December 2017


PQ ACCA F5 exam

What’s F5 all about? Caron writes: It’s not clear whether you have been doing some question practise as part of your ‘reading’ phase. Reading on its own is not the most effective study technique. Studying a topic means actively reading followed by exam standard question practice, so you are learning how to apply your new-found knowledge. It means that when you start revision you are just recapping and not relearning. See my top five revision checklist (below) for more ideas.

Ask Caron

Dear Caron, I don’t understand why we do the throughput accounting ratio when limiting factor calculations are easier. Surely, they do the same thing? Formula-phobe

The ACCA F5 exam typically has one of the lowest pass rates, and September 2017 was no exception with only 43% of those entering securing a pass. In contrast, the ACCA F1–F4 Caron writes: The throughput accounting ratio is based on the pass rates average around 70%. So why is this? AVADO’s F5 theory of constraints. Agony Aunt (AKA Caron Betts) answers typical student The idea is that a business should focus on producing a sale queries and concerns on this tricky exam. and not producing work in progress. If the TPAR is less than 1, the product is loss-making and the factory managers should be How does it Dear Caron, tasked with finding ways to improve performance such as manage it all? I have been studying F5 for a few weeks eliminating bottlenecks, reducing time on bottleneck activities How about now and it just seems to be full of or reducing other factory costs. How much does expansion? different and unrelated calculations. I If a business knows it’s bottleneck activities, it can then the product can’t get a handle on this subject. How maximise return by using limiting factor analysis to cost? does it all fit together? What is F5 all calculate the contribution per unit of scarce resource. How does it How many about? keep control? should it make? Dear Caron, Lost F5 student Caron writes: Think about the process How does it of a business developing a new product plan ahead? and there are eight key stages it needs to go through (see diagram). The F5 syllabus covers all of these stages. Keep going – it won’t be until you get to the end of your learning that you’ll be able to see the full picture.

How does it avoid risk and uncertainty?

Dear Caron, I am really struggling to understand the difference between ROI and RI. Can you help? Frustrated by F5 Caron writes: Both of these are techniques for evaluating the performance of a division. The key is remembering which profit you are using: controllable profit for assessing the manager of the division, and traceable profit for assessing the division. If you think about the words behind ROI it will help you to remember that you are measuring Return (the ‘profit’) On (on top of, or divided by) Investment (the capital employed to fund the business, namely debt and equity). The business should accept any projects greater than the current ROI. Residual income is the ‘residue’ after paying the imputed interest. For imputed interest, you simply multiply the capital employed (yes, use that again) by the cost of capital (the clue’s in the name). Accept all positive projects. Dear Caron, Despite my best intentions, I have only just finished reading the study text. There’s a couple of weeks left before the exam. I know I should have done some revision by now. Do you think I’ve left it too late? Poor planner 22

How can it maximise profit?

This sitting I shall be attempting the CBE version of F5. I have heard that this is very different to F1–F4 CBE exams and I am a little nervous. Any advice on how to approach the CBE will be much appreciated. CBE novice

Caron writes: Firstly, let me confirm the exam structure. Sections A and B of the exam are objective test questions (which includes multiple choice, drop-down options, etc), but section C has scenario questions where you prepare a written response, possibly including calculations within a spreadsheet or word document. With 40% of the paper being covered in section C, it’s important to make sure you practise answering these questions. Remember, you get marks for your workings, even if you don’t complete the question. Ensure you allow sufficient time in the exam to complete section C. You may even choose to do those questions first. Remember also that for section C the examiner will be expecting you to advise the business in the context of the scenario. While you may need to 1. Study the whole syllabus – it’s too broad for explain theories, ensure your comments are relevant to the question spotting business situation. Your tuition 2. Learn the formula – you’re only given two in provider should be able to provide you with mock CBEs and, if not, then the exam! make sure you practise with the ACCA 3. Practise section C questions – you’ll need Specimen F5 CBE and the past CBE exams available on the ACCA website. to include relevant comments on your A final tip about multiple choice calculations questions. Don’t try to look for 4. Practise doing questions to time – section C patterns or worry if it’s the same option each time. has 40% of the marks so make sure you get Contrary to popular belief the there answer is not always ‘B’. PQ 5. Do past exams – you’ll know what to expect • PQ Agony Aunt Caron Betts is the AVADO F5 tutor PQ Magazine December 2017


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PQ AAT exams


Sam Hannigan gives an overview of the examiner’s report for the Advanced Diploma Synoptic


understand there has been a lot of upset and frustration relating to the Advanced Diploma Synoptic, and learners have lost confidence in the exam. Although teething issues are expected when a qualification is new or revised, no one expected the issues to be so excessive. This was acknowledged by the AAT in the recent apology they issued. Moving forward, it is pleasing to see that recent synoptic windows have had very few technical issues with the majority of centres not experiencing any issues at all. The synoptic covers all the mandatory units plus the ethics for accountants and spreadsheets for accounting. So do not neglect the mandatory units when you start preparing for the exam. It is clear that the second part of the synoptic, the spreadsheet section, was the area where students experienced the most difficulties. However, not all students had technical difficulties – some students struggled due to lack of knowledge and understanding of spreadsheet software. With this in mind, here’s my overview of the latest examiner’s report. Task 1.1 A good understanding and knowledge of professional ethics and the ethical code was clear. However, weak reading skills let down the student’s performance. It is important to understand the meaning of the principles not just to remember them. TIP: RTFQ (Read The Flipping Question). Make sure you take your time and read the whole question before starting your answer. You cannot assume you know what is going to be asked so take your time. Jot down the important facts on scrap paper so you can plan your answer. Task 1.2 This task tested a variety of subject areas such as advanced bookkeeping, accounts preparation, VAT and some professional ethics. As this was a computer marked question this should have been answered correctly. Some calculations were required; however, the majority of the question was testing your skills. Again, not reading the question 24

thoroughly impacted on students’ responses and caused marks to be lost, and a lack of understanding of double entry bookkeeping was demonstrated. TIP: Remember, double entry bookkeeping is the foundation of your skills. Therefore, use your resources from the foundation level to help refresh your skills and understanding. There is no shame in going backwards to move forwards. Task 1.3 This written task was to assess understanding of management and financial accounting and how they link. The students that performed well on this task followed a methodical approach that required calculations and explanations in the form of an email. It was clear from the results that students understood financial accounting a lot more than management accounting. This may be due to the number of modules that have previously been studied. As there are more financial related modules than management related, both areas need to be understood in order to give students the best chance of passing. The examiner’s feedback states that “some students that had attempted to answer this task achieved no marks due to the answer not following a clear and logical manner”. Common areas tested are the breakeven analysis, margin of safety and areas testing understanding of overhead recovery that could relate to the overhead absorption rates. TIP: Use a logical approach on a question like this. State the obvious and

then expand on it. Where calculations have been made, use these within the written response. Make sure you read the question carefully and answer the question clearly. If the examiner cannot understand what you have written you will achieve no marks. Task 1.4 It is clear that technical accounting knowledge is not an issue for students however; many need to understand how sustainability can affect businesses and why it is important. Again, grammar and spelling was an issue to the extent that some student’s answers did not make sense and were contradictory. Students need to understand accounting and not just be able to post transactions. Students also need to be able to explain all aspects of accounting so a thorough understanding is essential. TIP: When you are attempting a question that requires a written response answer it in a methodical manner and ensure it is written in an appropriate style. So if the question asks you to write it in report style do not write it as an email. Plan the report according to the requirements. As you work through your studies keep asking yourself, “if someone asked me to explain what I am doing could I?” If you answer yes you can be confident that whatever the written task you will be able to gain some marks based on your knowledge. Task 2.1 Although this was the part of the exam that caused the issues it was good to see that some students performed well. PQ Magazine December 2017

AAT exams PQ

– THE FEEDBACK However, many students did not perform well as they did not follow specific requirements. If the task states something specific and the student goes ahead and answers it in a different way marks will not be awarded even if the answer comes out the same. TIP: Read the instructions carefully and follow the instructions. Do not use your own formulas or try and cut corners particularly if the question states specific instructions.

Task 2.2 Computational skills do not seem to be an issue. However, such as in the previous task not following instructions is proving to be an issue. This task involved management accounting which again is proving to be an area that students are either neglecting or not understanding. In this case students need to plan revision time to work on this area in order to gain thorough understanding. TIP: When studying management accounting costing, use a spreadsheet to analyse data rather than paper and pen. Use formulas to work out your

calculations this will then embed spreadsheet skills while revising management accounting costing.

the answer. A spreadsheet is a big calculator and the formulas you enter should replace the calculator.

Task 2.3 This should not be a big issue to students as this task relates to the preparation of financial accounts. Sitters tend to worry where spreadsheets are involved; however, if they follow the question and work through it carefully it should not be a concern. Students need to remember that the financial statements are created from the statement of profit and loss and statement of financial position columns (after adjustments) of the extended trial balance and not the trial balance columns. Do not panic just because it is shown on a spreadsheet – use your knowledge of previous modules. TIP: Use practice questions from your resources and set up a spreadsheet template. Then complete your revision of accounts preparation using the spreadsheet. Ensure formulas are entered where calculations take place. Do not just use a calculator and type in

Conclusion Although there has been bad experiences in relation to this synoptic with previous sittings the issues have now been resolved. Those students who are getting ready for the Advanced Diploma Synoptic can be reassured that technical issues should be minimal or non existant. Students need to use their knowledge to get through this exam. They need to feel confident in the skills and knowledge they have acquired and believe in themselves. However, they also need to follow instructions and RTFQ! When it comes to the spreadsheet section of the synoptic follow exactly what the question says. If you know a short cut that will arrive at the same answer do not use it if specific instruction is given. Many changes have taken place with the layout of the tasks to make it easier for the student to follow. So future sittings for this synoptic should be easier to complete in the time allowed. PQ

• Sam Hanigan is AAT Programme Manager for Premier Training


Gearing ratios and interest cover PQ magazine’s troubleshooter Philip Dunn tackles a thorny issue for F3 sitters that may also affect AAT and ICB Level 4 studiers Problem: I am an ACCA student currently studying F3 and need to know what relationship there is between the gearing ratio and Interest cover. Solution: These ratios are measures of long-term solvency. Gearing has been defined as the relationship of debt/equity or debt/equity + noncurrent liabilities and the ratios are expressed as a %. Note: Equity + non-current liabilities is also equal to capital employed. Interest cover is the number of times the operating profit or profit before interest and tax covers the interest payable. It is expressed as profit before interest and tax/interest payable and as a number of times. Example: The following figures are extracts from the accounts of Shahzad Ltd for years x16 and x17. Years x16 x17 £m £m Profit before interest and tax 26 24 Interest 4 8 £m £m Equity 120 135 Non-Current Liabilities 40 80 £160m


Gearing ratio (Debt/equity + non-current liabilities) This is measuring debt to the capital employed in the business. X16 X17 £40m/£160m £80m/£215m = 25% =37.2% Here we can see that the reliance on borrowed funds has increased and the company has taken on additional risk. It can be said that the company is becoming more highly geared. Interest cover (Profit before interest and tax/interest payable) X16 X17 £26m/£4m £24m/£8m = 6.5 times = 3 times The additional borrowing has had a direct effect on the interest cover as this borrowing has increased the interest payable. It is interesting to note that the gearing has increased and the interest cover has fallen putting the company at risk. The other factor that has forced down the cover is the return on the capital employed. (Profit before interest and tax/equity + non-current liabilities) expressed as a %. X16 X17 £26m/£160m £24m/£215m = 16.25% = 11.16% The additional borrowing has failed to generate incremental profit and thus profitability has fallen at a time when interest payable has increased and the company is at greater risk than previously experienced. PQ

• Dr Philip E Dunn is a freelance author and technical editor for Kaplan and Osborne Books PQ Magazine December 2017


PQ financial management

Can Brexit have a positive outcome?

Jo Tuffill can transform you into a ‘foreign exchange guru’ – simply follow her four-step guide


ou can pretty much guarantee that in every financial management exam there will be a question on foreign exchange risk. Students traditionally struggle with understanding exchange rate risk due to the nature of the translation calculation. But ‘thanks to Brexit’ (whether you agree with it or not), there has been a positive outcome for students. Brexit has put exchange rate risk into the news and hence every student can now become a ‘foreign exchange guru’ by following my four basic steps. Step 1: quoted rates The TERM is quoted first with the BASE quoted second All exchange rates are quoted as a ratio, being a quantity of the term currency to one unit of the base currency. So, if you are a UK company the £ is the base currency and all foreign currencies will be the term currency. • Euro € /£ rate €1.28 to £1 • US $ /£ rate $1.45 to £1

exports the wigs to distributer ‘TRUMP TOPS’ in the US. In May 2016, BORIS BOBS purchases materials from its supplier worth €100,000 when the rate is €1.28, on 45 days’ credit. They expect to pay €100,000 ÷ 1.28 = £78,125 for the goods in July. However, Brexit happens and the €/£ rate falls to €1.19. The £ is now worth fewer euros and devalued. BORIS BOBS now has to pay at the new rate and pays €100,000 ÷ 1.19 = £84,034. Oh dear, poor BORIS BOBS, a loss of £5,909 due to transaction risk. An IMPORTER will LOSE when currency DEVALUES [SEE TABLE 1] However, also in May 2016, BORIS BOBS sold wigs to TRUMP TOPS worth $200,000 when the rate was $1.45 on 45 days’ credit. BORIS BOBS expects to receive $200,000 ÷ 1.45 = £137,931

in July. After Brexit the $/£ rate fell to $1.31. When TRUMP TOPS paid BORIS BOBS they converted at the lower rate and received $200,000 ÷ 1.31 = £152,672. Happy days for BORIS BOBS, a gain of £14,741 An EXPORTER will WIN when currency DEVALUES [SEE TABLE 2]

Remember my four steps to success 1. Quoted at Term(Forex) to Base (Domestic). 2. Convert by dividing. 3. Receipt in Forex high rate and payment in Forex low rate. 4. Brexit devaluation – importers lose and exporters win. So congratulations – you are now a foreign exchange guru! PQ • Jo Tuffill is a director and tutor at Vale Financial Training


Step 2: conversion DIVIDE to convert from the FOREX (term) to the DOMESTIC (base) For example, €1,000 at an exchange rate of €1.28 to £1 gives €1000 ÷ 1.28 = £781.25 Step 3: Emoji or to decide which rate Banks make money on a spread. They offer you a different rate depending on whether you are buying or selling foreign currency. A spread quoted as €/£ 1.28 – 1.30 shows a low rate (1.28) and a high rate (1.30). 1. If you want to pay a supplier in euros (Forex), the bank will sell euros at the low rate: €1,000 ÷ 1.28 = £781.25 2. If you want to convert a euro receipt from a customer, the bank will buy euros at the high rate: €1,000 ÷ 1.30 = £769.23 3. So the bank makes a profit on the spread of £12.02 by selling at £781.25 and buying at £769.23. For exam questions, use emojis: Receiving € (forex) –> feeling HIGH –> Choose HIGH rate Paying € (forex)feeling LOW Choose LOW rate


Step 4: Brexit or for a UK company Consider a UK company, ‘BORIS BOBS’, that imports raw materials for wigs from Europe and 26

PQ Magazine December 2017

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PQ your career

Time to kick on…?

Nicky Tombs outlines five things you need to know about working for a start-up


oming into a start-up organisation as an accountant can be extremely rewarding, but there are also challenges to face. Firstly, the environment will be very different from that of an established company. There are advantages to this. For example, where I work everyone loves ‘beer Friday’. At 4.30pm every other Friday all the staff descend on the kitchen, pulls a beer from the fridge, fills up on snacks and challenges each other to a table soccer match. This, and the other benefits we enjoy, is a real representation of the job adverts you see for start ups, which are typically described as relaxed and casual, funloving environments. However, there are downsides to working in this kind of environment, especially as an accountant. Generally, start-ups don’t employ accountants until the business has reached a crisis point in growth, usually a crisis of control, and there will be a need to improve cost control and financial planning in order for the business to succeed. The founders may understand that it’s time to bring in cost control, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll like it. In fact, it will go against their nature as entrepreneurs. Therefore, to start with, you will be seen as a necessary evil. That being said, if you can get it right, you can really make a difference to the future of a company, and whether it will thrive or crumble. What could be more rewarding than that? So what do you need to know before you take on a role in one of these challenging and rewarding environments? 28

The numbers only tell half the story It’s really important to understand where the business has come from, in order to understand where it needs to go. We are all taught the value of nonfinancial information during our studies, and this is never more important than when coming into a start up. So yes, analyse the numbers, but also ask questions. Maybe a supplier looks to be high cost, but actually provides a service that is imperative to you USP. Or maybe a low value customer provides a network that the business is currently reliant on. Ask questions, be interested in the history and the future of the business and understand the implications of any changes you might suggest. Build relationships Communication is key in any working environment, but building relationships in a close-knit community like a start up is imperative. Accountants have a reputation for being introverted, and it can be difficult to go out of our comfort zones to ensure we are have good communication with our colleagues, but you won’t be able to carry out your job properly in this environment unless you have your ear to the ground and know what’s going on. Things change fast and you need to be proactively ready for the outcome any changes bring. Your ideal scenario will be that, if there is the prospect of any change happening in the company, everyone will understand that you need to know about it, and that telling you will be of value. You need to be the go-to person for any analysis that may affect decision-making Be comfortable with change Things change. A lot. If you’re used to working in an environment that has a planned strategy that fits into Taylor’s

Rational Planning Model, then this can be difficult to get used to. Think about what you’ve been taught about organisations that follow Emergent Strategies or Opportunism, and then try to understand how that would play out in reality. Leaders within the business are constantly on the look out for any opportunities that arise. Decisions tend to be made based more on instinct than analysis, as there is often a need for quick decisions to be made, some people it a challenge to shift and bend to these changes. Be flexible You will be working in a fast-paced, everchanging environment, and the company’s requirements from you will change, sometimes on a daily basis. Maybe you will be completing an analysis on a potential acquisition in the morning, and paying suppliers in the afternoon. The work will be varied. It’s all hands on deck, so you need to be flexible. Don’t forget your ethics In a fast-paced environment, filled with strong personalities, it’s easy to get swept along if something needs to get done quickly. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. It’s your duty and responsibility to behave ethically. What can seem like a small concession can quickly turn into part of the culture. Remember to retain your integrity and objectivity and stand your ground. PQ • CIMA qualified Nicky Tombs is Finance Business Controller at Mr Green Ltd, based in Malta This article first appeared in NQ magazine (June 2017) PQ Magazine December 2017

careers PQ

social media ROUND-UP The accountancy regulator, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), recently updated its Governance Bible and Code of Conduct, and published its Register of Interests. The register got all the news coverage! It reveals, perhaps unsurprisingly, that many directors and senior officials are members of the pension schemes of the Big 4 firms. CEO Stephen Haddrill even discloses that this includes his wife, who is a deputy director in the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy responsible for the department’s relationship management with its partner organisations (since 2017 this included the FRC). We tweeted: “The FRC’s newly posted register of conflicts of interest shows there’s quite a lot of it! Many senior bods have big pensions with the Big 4.” Another ‘like’ story was the shock news that Bridge is not a sport! The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the skills required to play the game were not enough to classify it as a sport. It rejected a claim by the English Bridge Union, which was seeking a ruling that it was a sport in order to gain access to Lottery funding, as well as VAT relief on tournament entry fees. Animals always feature heavily in Facebook groups. Here’s a couple from the AAT Students Independent Group we particularly liked! Do you have any accountancy-studying cat pictures you’d like to see in PQ? Send them to and we will publish the best in the next issue!

Life at Clark Group Recently ACCA qualified, Craig Coda, 32, is a Compliance Officer with the firm, based in Bournemouth. He is studying for an advanced Excel qualification, and planning to undertake the ACCA Oxford Brookes global MBA. What time does your alarm clock go off on a working day? Too early! What’s the first thing you do when you get to your desk? The last thing I do each day is clear my desk, so the first thing I do is put everything back. Now that I write that it seems a little crazy, but it avoids that situation where your desk looks like a filing tray and it keeps things organised. What’s on your desk? My laptop, a second monitor, whatever I am dealing with that day and a space where I will be putting an A5 copy of my ACCA certificate in a frame. What’s the best thing about where you work? Fridays! Monday to Thursday I work 9am to 5.30pm and have a half-hour lunch break, which allows me to leave at 1pm on a Friday. And if I

want to take a three-day weekend it only costs me half a day’s leave. Where’s your favourite place for lunch? At home on a Friday! What (or who) can you see when you sit at your desk? Not that I have used it yet, but there is a bar in the office. I can also see the windsurfers at Sandbanks. I look forward to giving that a go on my Friday afternoons next summer. Which websites are your favourites and why? New Scientist, YouTube Instagram – I’m a tiny bit of a (big) nerd. Which websites do you use for work? Companies House, a number of Google-searched sites. How many hours a week do you spend in meetings? Four. How do you relax? Being recently qualified my idea of relaxing is being able to enjoy doing

nothing productive for a significant quantity of time guilt free. What’s your favourite tipple? I make sloe gin (sadly it doesn’t last long). Once it is gone a Jack Daniel’s Honey on the rocks. How often do you take work home? Excluding emails on my phone, thankfully not too often. What is your favourite TV show? Joe Scott, ASAPscience and interviews with influential individuals in many fields on Youtube. Summer or winter? Summer. Pub or club? Pub. Who is your hero? My dad. If you had a time machine, where would you go? Into the future, I can’t wait to see how the world will change. It is unfathomable to imagine that PCs have only been here for 30 years and the smartphone 10 years.

City jobs will go The tech revolution will sweep away tens of thousands of financial jobs in the City of London over the next 20 years, says former Goldman Sachs boss Michael Dubno. He said AI will have a dramatic impact on the number of highly paid traders and other financial roles. And instead of saying “let’s do lunch” he feels in the future it will be more a matter of “I have some great data for you to look at.” This access to data is what will

help cement relationships, says Dubno.

In brief Exhausting work Nearly half of accountants (44%) claim they feel exhausted on a daily basis, according to new research. The CV-Library study found that 75% of accountancy professionals cite workplace stress as a key cause of their disrupted sleep. And 90% admit that stress-related disrupted sleep negativity affects their emotions. Just 22% of respondents said they achieve seven to eight hours’ sleep a night. Some 60% get around five to seven hours.

EY the fastest grower EY has reported UK fee income growth of 9.2% to £2.35bn, making it the fastest growing of the Big 4 firms. Profits rose 2.7% to £464m and the average distributable profit per partner increased to £677,000 (it was £662,000 in 2016). The firm recruited almost 4,000 people across the UK, including 1,500 students and 130 apprentices.

The PQ Book Club: books you should read Confidence Pocketbook by Gill Hasson (Capstone, £8.99) The subtitle of this little gem of a self-help book – ‘Little exercises for a self-assured life’ – pretty much sums it up. In her introduction, the author argues that self-confidence is something we can all develop, and here she sets out a series of exercises to help us do just that. After all, “low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-brake on” – the quote from Maxwell Maltz is one of many that introduce each section. The early chapters of the book are devoted to helping you build the foundation stones of PQ Magazine December 2017

confidence. They deal with issues such as self-awareness, identifying your strengths and weaknesses and setting realistic goals. One section, entitled ‘Avoid the comparison trap’, explains why we should never compare ourselves with other people. As the author says: “Measuring your worth and your abilities against other people and concluding you don’t match up can only lead to feeling inferior, disappointed and even ashamed.” An important lesson. Small changes to your outlook on life are important, she writes, and this encourages the reader to evolve as a person, constantly re-assessing how best

to react to a certain set of circumstances. This book is designed to help you in both your career and your personal life. Public speaking, job interviews, first dates, big projects, new opportunities — confidence is key to them all. This book shows you how to develop the confidence you need to succeed in all areas of life and feel good about yourself every day. PQ rating 4/5 As George Eliot once said: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” This book will help you achieve your potential. 29

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The entertainment at the PQ awards is nothing if not memorable. Who can forget Nathan Caton, Abandoman, Paul Sinha or Chris Martin? Then, of course, there was Shaun ‘Barry’ Williamson, Stephen K Amos, and Ewen ‘Keith the accountant from The Office’ Macintosh. There is one top name you can still see almost every day. Richard Blackwood, who flew back from the US just for us, is now an EastEnders regular. So who will it be this year?

JOKE CORNER What is a budget? An orderly system for living beyond your means. How do you know accountants have no imagination? They named a firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers. How many auditors does it take to change a light bulb? How many did it take last year? “I’II take the accountant’s heart”, said the patient. “I want one that hasn’t been used.” What’s the difference between and introvert and extrovert accountant? The introvert accountant looks at his shoes when he’s talking to you; the extrovert accountant looks at your shoes when he’s talking to you. • Do you have any favourites? Send them to More great jokes next month


Swiss police are investigating after toilets in a bank and three restaurants became blocked by £90,000 in banknotes. The UBS bank in Geneva’s finance district and three nearby bistros found their ‘facilities’ bunged up with €50 notes. Puts a new twist on money laundering!




The ICB BookkepersSummit was again a big hit this year. CEO Garry Carter has all the best stories, too. He reminded delegates that it was a bookkeeper, Frank M Robinson, who invented the Coca-Cola logo. Dr John Pemberton invented the drink in 1886, but he took Robinson’s advice that “the two ‘Cs’ would look well in advertising”. Carter explained that Robinson had written Coca-Cola on his ledger in Spencerian script, a typeface popular at the time. It has certainly stood the test of time.


Old-time rocker Robert Plant recently appeared on The One Show. He talked fondly of his job at Woolworths and selling broken biscuits – he pre-dates the pick and mix! He also admitted to a brief encounter with chartered accountancy. He explained he abandoned training as an accountant after only two weeks to go back to college to retake his GCSEs – that’s how bad it was! From there he joined the local blues scene and eventually made his way to Led Zeppelin.

Debbie McGee has been a big hit on Strictly Come Dancing. But did you know she has a secret fantasy? Yes, she wishes she had trained as an accountant! It is the classic case of being good at maths. However, she went on to say that when she married the lovely Paul Daniels she took over the finance side and loved it. We bet!


Free ACCA study texts PQ magazine has joined forces with EWI to offer five lucky readers the chance to download a free 201718 ACCA e-study text. These impressive publications come in at £19.99 and with the promise to cover the syllabus without getting bogged down in too much detail. Written in clear English, using simple attractive layouts, the text are the ideal aid to anyone sitting an exam soon. To be in with a chance of winning one of our giveaways just head up your email ‘EWI study text’ and tell us which paper you want to download (for example F7). Please provide your full name with the entry. Send your email to

Your Christmas sweater kit Why go out and buy a new Christmas sweater when you can just use an old plain jumper that’s languishing at the bottom of your cupboard? We are giving away five ‘Create your own Christmas Sweater Kits’ to ensure your Christmas goes with a bang! The kits include Christmas lettering, assorted felt shapes and loads and loads of glitter. What’s not to like? We have to stress that a sweater is not included in the prize! If you would like this kit then send an email to and head it up ‘Christmas cheer’. As always we need an address so we can send you your prize.

Doodle your stress away Corporate Finance for Dummies We have three copies of Creative Therapy – An AntiStress Colouring Book up for grabs this month. We are told that creating stunning artworks filled with intricate beauty is a stress-relieving activity. Just completing the detailed pieces in this gorgeous book will lift your mood and focus your mind. To enter this draw send an email to headed up ‘Creative Therapy’. Remember, we need a full name and postal address to send the book!

If you follow us on twitter then you would have read that top accountancy writer Steve Collings was going to send us a signed copy of ‘Corporate Finance for Dummies’ to give away. It has now arrived and we want to give it to one lucky reader. On top on Steve’s book we are throwing in a Collins Home reference Set, too. This includes a dictionary and thesarus and will look great on your study shelves. Just sent us your email headed up ‘Corporate Finance’, with your name and address, and we will do the rest.

Terms and conditions: One entry per giveaway please. You must send your name and address to be entered for the draw. All giveaway entries must be received by Friday 15 December 2017. The main draw will take place on Monday 18 December 2017.


PQ Magazine December 2017

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PQ magazine, December 2017  
PQ magazine, December 2017  

PQ magazine is a free monthly magazine for student accountants, focusing mainly on the ACCA, CIMA, CIPFA, ICAEW and AAT qualifications. It's...