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PQ magazine April 2018 /

S R E N IN W E H T T E E M : 18 0 2 S D R PQ AWA

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News 06ACCA exams We run the rule over the latest set of exams 08ICAEW advice PQs reminded about the importance of practice 10ICAS alliance Scottish institute signs deal with US counterparts 12Independent AAT Association is just fine on its own Features, etc 04Mind your Ps&Qs CIMA and the WhatsApp exam cheats; the accountants’ ‘Hippocratic oath’; and why PQ is great 13Activity based costing Making this important topic as easy as, well, ABC 14The write stuff Meet JeanPaul Noel-Cephise, former accountant and author of dating guide ‘7 Deadly Dates’ 15ICAEW spotlight A round-up of what chartered students need to know this Spring 16PQ Awards 2018 Once again accountancy’s top awards was the party to be at! 18CIPFA focus The CIPFA Student Network is looking for volunteers, so why not help out and help yourself in the process? 20Leadership ACCA’s Alan Hatfield has some top advice on improving your skill set 22Wellbeing Sumo could change your life – honestly!

April 2018 24Blockchain explained How

blockchain could impact on your career; and the dates of CABA’s wellbeing workshops 26Micro-economics Supply and Demand curves explained 28Financial statements The whys and the wherefores 29Careers Life at Explore Learning; our Book Club review; and the best of social media 30Fun stuff – and our giveaways The columnists Robert Bruce Why the Big 4 can carry on regardless 6 Prem Sikka We must heed the Carillion warning 8 Zoe Robinson Learning at the point of need 10 Subscribe to PQ magazine It’s FREE – go to page 27 or see ABC July 2016 – June 2017


Publisher’s statement: We send a digital issue of the magazine to an additional 6,785 requested readers Free to subscribers who fulfil our terms of control Annual subscription: £35 (£50 overseas)

And the PQ goes to… Welcome to our PQ Awards special issue. It was another great night at the Café de Paris, but you don’t have to take my word for it – check out our one-minute highlights video at Nigh on 1,000 people have already had a look, and we hope it inspires you to enter next year’s awards! We were interested to read recently that local newspapers are three times more trusted for news than social media platforms such as Facebook, according to a YouGov poll. Some 74% of people trust the information they read in their local newspaper, compared with 22% who trust the local news they read on social media. It really is about trust, and we hope you see us as your local accountancy newspaper! As always there is plenty to read in this issue – stuff you can’t get anywhere else. We have a great article from CIPFA’s student leader Chris Roberts (see page 18). The CSN really is a fantastic, independent voice for PQs. And you can see how, with Chris, it is upping its game. PQ now even has a dedicated a special ‘corner’ for all your Carillion news (page 10). Our favourite quote that didn’t make it into the magazine came from Peter Kyle MP when he told KPMG partners: “I wouldn’t hire you to do an audit of the contents of my fridge.” That made me chuckle. Finally, if you can’t get enough of me, I have started to write a monthly blog for Osborne Training. My first one is all about eating your way to success. Check it out at Graham Hambly, PQ magazine editor (

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PQ have your say

email Has CIMA gone soft? I read with interest about the mass cheating at the recent CIMA exams (PQ front page story, last issue). Surely CIMA should have expelled the students who ‘shared’ their exam questions or pleaded with their fellow students to spill the beans on what was in the exam they had just sat. For me, these cases are black and white – if you are caught cheating you don’t deserve to become a member of a chartered professional body. CIMA must also have a duty of care to protect the public and businesses from unscrupulous employees. Many

people I meet already seem to believe accountants lack any ethical or moral integrity, and will do anything to keep being paid

their high salaries! If these cheating students are happy to share vital information at such an early stage in their careers, how can CIMA guarantee they will be safe with important company details, which has even more value? Name and address supplied The editor says: The accountancy bodies do indeed have a duty of care to the public; it is in their charters. But the punishment also needs to be proportionate. It is natural for students to need to talk about the exam they have just sat, and a

WhatsApp group would seem a good place to do it. Not being able to talk about a shared experience online will seem alien to many. When you leave the exam hall you just want a chance to moan and groan. Even going to the pub or café to let off steam with fellow sitters might be breaking the rules – you don’t know who could be listening! As I said in my commentary last month, I believe a lot of those reprimanded students, and there were more than 30 of them, honestly didn’t realise they were doing anything wrong by ‘letting off steam’ about their exam. I also think CIMA now has to make it much clearer and be more upfront about the rules.

Our star letter writer wins a fantastic PQ memory stick! Thanks, PQ I must admit I’m not sure I should be on your subscriber list as I am not actively studying, but instead focusing on my bookkeeping business. Complaints by PQ readers about exams being hard are a bit tiresome and I am shocked by the numbers cheating in their exams. However, every issue of your journal contains some useful gems of information or interesting comments, which I value tremendously. Please carry on the good work. Hoping to remain a subscriber! Elaine Humphreys, by email

collective ‘eyes on the ball’ when they ran that company into the ground. Perhaps these directors would have been more cautious and diligent if they potentially faced a stretch in one of Her Majesty’s facilities? But despite Mr McDonnell’s talk of a ‘Hippocratic Oath’ for accountants I can’t honestly see anything changing any time soon. Name and address supplied

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Nothing will change So Labour Party shadow chancellor John McDonnell wants to take on the Big 4 accountancy firms? (PQ, March 2018). Well good luck with that, John! These firms are just too big and powerful, they have friends in very high places, including Parliament. And guess what? Once they tire of Westminster many of these ‘trusted public servants’ waltz into top jobs with... the Big 4 firms. Despite all the good publicity these firms get for being ‘the top places to work’ the Big 4 do more harm than good with their tax avoidance advice that costs the

government millions in lost revenue every year – and all the while the average person is seeing their living standards fall. The only way to stop the Big 4 from designing these schemes is to jail those responsible for creating them when they are found to be

illegal (and thus tax evading). They would then have to think very hard indeed before promoting some of their (more dubious) schemes to clients. And the same should hold true for the directors of massive firms like Carillion, who it seems certainly did not have their

I received my Bumper Quiz prize of a Google Home Mini speaker in the post at the weekend. What a lovely surprise! The speaker is so much fun and has lots of great features. It is a pleasure to read your magazine on a monthly basis and it provides so much insightful news and tips. As someone who works on a screen all day, it is always so uplifting to come home and find PQ magazine in the mail – to read it as an actual paper magazine and spend time away from screens. This is a rarity in 2018. I will continue reading PQ and am especially looking forward to the 2018 Bumper Quiz, which I will have to enter after this year’s luck. Now back to my studying for next week’s F7 ACCA exam. Ryan Anderson MAAT, 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 2018

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PQ news

ROBERT BRUCE Sound and fury that signifies nothing Years ago I was asked by one of the Big 4 firms if I would be videoed for an interview that would be shown at a subsequent partners’ conference. They wanted the film to provoke discussion of issues that senior partners in large audit firms would normally avoid. So I suggested that audit firms were in big reputational trouble. The public had no proper clue about what they did and didn’t do and thought they were a cosy cartel. I suggested that, sooner or later, politicians would force regulators to come after them. I said that the best strategy for them would be to recognise that this would happen and take pre-emptive action ahead of time. I suggested that each of the Big 4 firms should split themselves in two. This would create eight audit entities, independent of each other. Public worries would appear to be answered. Future reputational damage would be mitigated. Needless to say, my arguments did not carry the day. The big firms just got bigger and now, as happens periodically, are under fire from public opinion and politicians alike. And their attitude, as ever, is to hunker down, take the brickbats and live to fight another day. The recent select committee hearings on the collapse of Carillion were a classic example. Grandstanding politicians fire off furious vituperation. The witnesses apologise for everything, even for having been born. In the end, no one is much the wiser, certainly about the facts of the affair.

Want to sit your exams to some drum and bass? How do you fancy sitting your ACCA with drum and bass music banging in your ears? Well, that’s what happened to one group of F5 sitters in London this March! There also seemed to be an increase of PQs having problems with their computer exams – remember, this sittings sees a real upscaling of the CBE exams. One set of F5 sitters had to wait 40 minutes in front of their computer screens before they could begin, and another group of PQs went to three rooms before they were finally allowed to sit their test. Oh, and there was the little matter of a busker outside the

Newcastle exam centre. Ear plugs may be the order of the day for future exams! The F5 exam itself was deemed a hard one. One student claimed the CBE was 10 times harder than the paper exam, and although many sitters agreed it was harder, some were grateful that CBEs have finally ‘arrived’.

F7 students told us they were taken aback by the disposal of a subsidiary with group accounts question. They were sure ‘approved’ texts said a 20-marker question like this would not appear! Reading technical articles also proved particularly useful for P1 sitters. A student explained six of the articles ‘came up’. “Thank God I read them just before the exam,” they stressed. The big complaint about P2 was how ‘dry’ this paper is. Section B was also described as ‘weird’! But many students admitted they loved the Brexit question and LaLand. One student did say the examiner should have just gone for it and called it ‘LaLaland’. Finally, a P5 sitter summed up manys’ March experience: “It’s the bloody time pressure.”

Association unveils new jobs shake-up

Proud ‘PQ’ winners: the team from The Training Place of Excellence pose for our photographer Phil Gammon, while NQ of the Year Michael Scott shows what winning really means to him. Our full awards round-up is on pages 16-17

Robert Bruce is an award-winning writer on accountancy for The Times

PQ has discovered that The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (The Association), the body formed by CIMA and its US partner the AICPA, has begun an extensive business transformation programme. Almost a year to the day that it created the Association and transferred CIMA and AICPA employee positions to the new body, it has confirmed that 120 jobs, about 8% of the global workforce, will be ‘changing’ roles. Association CEO – Managing Accounting, Andrew Harding, in an exclusive interview with PQ magazine, explained that bringing the two bodies together meant there is some duplication of roles. He admitted there are also some key areas, particularly digital, where it needs to up its game. He stressed that the organisation wants to ensure it has staff with the right skill-set to support their students and members going forward, and reiterated that the idea is not to cut staff numbers. In fact, he said that at this very moment the Association has a significant number of vacancies. When pushed, Harding emphasised that he didn’t expect a lot of redundancies, and although it is still early days in the process he honestly believes at the end of the ‘transformation’ the Association will be employing more people than it does today.

In brief CIPFA to help in Nepal CIPFA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal (ICAN) to help boost the country’s public financial management. Under the MoU, the two institutes will share expertise to help promote and improve ‘responsible’ public sector accounting in the country. It will also explore routes to CIPFA membership for ICAN members. Created in 1997, ICAN has over 8,400 members across Nepal. 6

Available for hire ACA students who have had their training agreements terminated still have a chance of becoming an ACA through the ‘available student register’ (ASR), Alison Stiles reminded delegates at the recent ICAEW Partner Learning conference. She explained that PQs who have had their agreements terminated, along with those studying for the ICAEW CFAB, and those who have completed the Level 3 Diploma in Accounting (AAT), can all register

on the site. Their details are then circulated to authorised training employers on a monthly basis. Students need to contact to register. Woman in finance The Financial Reporting Council is the latest signatory of the Women in Finance Charter. CEO Stephen Haddrill said the FRC is proud of its record on diversity and has a majority of women in senior executive positions. He went on: “A diverse workforce contributes to

more integrity in business and the long-term success of organisations, which in turn leads to sustainable growth in the UK economy.” Platinum Status retained Manchester Metropolitan Business School has retained its ACCA Platinum Approved Learning Partner status. The professional stage course at Manchester Met is designed to allow those who have completed F1 to F9 to sit and pass the professional papers in just nine months. PQ Magazine April 2018

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PQ news

PREM SIKKA We must heed the Carillion warning In recent days parliamentary committees have questioned KPMG about the audit of Carillion, which collapsed in January 2018. The KPMG responses were defensive and some old favourites were wheeled out. These included claims that the company’s accounting was in accordance with accounting standards, we audited in accordance with auditing standards, and that there is an expectations gap and people expect too much from the auditor. The replies are unlikely to have impressed legislators. Compliance with accounting standards is not mandatory and the Companies Act 2006 permits a ‘true and fair view’ override. Auditing standards may specify the minimal benchmarks, but there is nothing to prevent auditors from aiming for higher standards. The professional bodies make claims about professional judgment, but auditors say that they audit by the book and are reluctant to go beyond. This can’t be reconciled with their claims of professionalism. Is it too much to expect auditors to raise red flags for a company that was in dire financial trouble? What can the people expect from auditors? The profession spends more time telling people what audit can’t deliver but still expects fees. Imagine a producer of televisions telling people that the set will not do what they expect, but they must still buy it because the law requires it. A public backlash is inevitable unless the profession re-examines its relationship with society. Prem Sikka is Emeritus Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex

ICAS has signed an historic mutual recognition agreement with both the US CPA and US Certified Public Accountants. The Scottish Institute says the new deal will provide a streamlined process for their respective members to practise in the other’s jurisdiction. International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: “This is a really welcome initiative, which my department supports, and shows the huge benefits which greater UK-US co-operation can bring to our business.” Fox felt that the mutual recognition of qualifications could help boost trade in services, making it easier for world-leading professionals to operate in other countries. ICAS CEO Anton Colella said: “This is an historic agreement. It’s a first of its kind between a UK

only pass one exam – the International Qualification Exam (IQEX) – and satisfy the relevant state board requirements. Eligible US CPAs now need to only complete the international Done deal: signatories Ken L Bishop, President qualification and CEO of NASBA; Anton Colella, CEO of ICAS; pathway, a two-year Barry C Melancon President and CEO AICPA training contract chartered accountancy body and and have requisite UK audit US accountancy bodies and comes experience. at a pivotal point for the UK.” The FRC has also approved the Under the MRA, ICAS CAs need agreement.

Beware last-minute ACCA exam updates

Despite assurances that it wouldn’t happen again, the ACCA released a new P1 technical article just a week before the March exam. Concerned tutors contacted PQ magazine, worried that many students in their final phase of revision would miss the article on transaction cost theory, which was posted on 26 February. It was LSBF’s Paul Mersion (pictured) who first spotted the article, 10 minutes after he had

finished his final P1 revision course! He explained that there has been nothing on ‘organising transactions’ in any exam for the past 10 years and wondered with just two sittings left of P1 why is had suddenly appeared. Remember, the P1 paper disappears once the new SBL exam takes over in September. Fortunately for Merison’s students he had covered this subject in his classes. He said:

“Most tutors would not have covered it as it’s not a mainstream topic. This is going to cause some panic.” One student contacted PQ to say: “Very unethical of the exam team to publish such an article this close to an exam.” Another countered: “No it isn’t, if it covers something already in the syllabus. It is already in the syllabus and students should have covered it; be glad of the revision material!”

IAS 19: IASB amends pension accounting The International Accounting Standards Board has issued narrow-scope amendments to IAS 19 Employee Benefits. These specify how companies determine pension expenses when changes to a defined benefit pension plan occur. IAS 19 sets out how a company accounts for a defined benefit plan.

Sexual harrassment ‘issues’ down under A partner at KPMG South Australia has left the Big 4 firm following a sexual harassment investigation against him. KPMG CEO Gary Wingrove has now issued a warning to all staff and partners, telling them the firm has a zero-tolerance to predatory behaviour. He said: “KPMG fully investigated and promptly addressed the matter. The individual responsible no longer works for the firm.” Wingrove also urged staff to report any inappropriate behaviour. The news broke at the same time as accusations of sexual harassment against a senior partner of EY Adelaide came from a junior female staffer. 8

ICAS enters into historic alliances

When a change to a plan – an amendment, curtailment or settlement – takes place, the standard requires a company to remeasure its net defined benefit liability or asset. The amendments require a company to use the updated assumption from this re-measurement to determine current service cost and net

‘Beware the third wave’ PwC says a third of British jobs could be impacted over the next 15 years by automation. Economists at the Big 4 firm have identified three waves of automation between now and the mid-2030s: the algorithm wave, the augmentation wave and, finally, the autonomy wave. It believes relatively few jobs will be automated in the first wave (from now until early the 2020s). However, financial services could prove the exception to the rule here. When the third wave hits in the mid2030s the prediction is up to 30% of existing jobs could be impacted, with transport, manufacturing and the retail sectors particularly affected. The study suggested that more women will initially be effected by the rise

interest for the remainder of the reporting period after the change to the plan. Until now, IAS 19 did not specify how to determine these expenses for the period after the change to the plan. By requiring the use of updated assumptions, the amendments are expected to provide useful information to users of financial statements.

of automation, whereas men are more likely to feel the impact in the third wave. EY boost for apprenticeships EY has opened a further 60 digital degree apprenticeship places in 2018, to help meet future skills and business needs. The new apprentices will study towards a BSc degree in Digital and Technology Solutions, funded by the firm. They will spend 80% of their course working in the business, gaining valuable work experience, and earning a salary of up to £21,500. In addition to the 60 new EY degree apprenticeship in digital technology, some 300 of the firm’s graduate intake this year will be eligible to study towards a Level 7 higher apprenticeship. PQ Magazine April 2018

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PQ news

ZOE ROBINSON Learning at the point of need

The NHS always promotes its mantra, ‘free at the point of need’. If we can put the ‘free’ part to one side so as to avoid the politics, the very idea that something is there just when you need it is an interesting one. Traditionally, learning has been linear; you get on the train at the start of your journey, along with the other passengers, and get off together when you reach your destination. But what if you were to plan your own journey, only calling on help when you needed it? This journey would be far more personalised and may encourage more independent and curious travellers, or should I say students. And there is no reason you can’t do both – follow a standard pathway but allow individuals to access knowledge where they simply want to know more or get an alternative view to help with understanding. YouTube is a free-at-the-point-ofneed learning resource and evidence suggests people love it. Some 3.25 billion hours of video is watched each month, with 300 hours uploaded to YouTube every minute! YouTube EDU now offers up more than 500,000 educational videos. Of course, providing learners with answers to questions when they want them is what good teachers have always done. What technology facilitates is a greater range of opportunities for students to be curious – if you like there are now more trains going to more destinations, so go explore! Zoe Robinson is Learning and Programmes Director at Kaplan Financial

Carillion Corner

EX-FD IN THE SPOTLIGHT Ex-finance chief Richard Adam is coming under increasing scrutiny because he apparently sold his Carillion shares ‘at the earliest possible moment’. In early 2017, 10

Practice makes perfect ICAEW student’s really do need to put in the practice before sitting their first CBE exam, stressed the ICAEW’s head of development and special projects, Adam Birt. He told a packed ACA Partner in Learning tutor conference they must encourage students to play with the software in advance of the exam. Being unfamiliar with the functionality and formatting is costing some students dear. That said, he revealed that the CBEs have had no effect on pass rates. It is only at the margins that the problems seem to be occurring. He reminded tutors that’s all exams follow the standard rounding rules to the nearest whole number by default, with the exception of Financial Management which will The Big 4 accountancy firms are a great place to work, but they wreak havoc with your work-life balance, according to the key findings of a new ACCA Generation Next study. Despite the downsides, young finance professionals still very much see the experience gained in the largest accountancy firms as invaluable to securing their longterm career success. ACCA director of professional insight Maggie McGhee said that across the profession some 48% of all Gen Next respondents said they

round to two decimal places. PQs also need to understand how to expand their cells and show their workings. One tutor asked why

Big 4 are good for you were happy in their role [Editor: that seems a bit low to me!]. At the larger firms, job satisfaction scored higher, particularly for those in the Big 4, where almost 60% of respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their job. However, the research also uncovered a number of talent management issues. Some 43% of respondents said they had a poor work-life balance, with 48% saying

Middle-class problems Middle-class professionals are operating a closed shop, deterring new entrants to the market, claims chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss (pictured). She said professionals such as lawyers and accountants effective hid behind professional regulations, and that this was damaging growth. Adam’s sold shares worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, as soon as he qualified for them. He left Carillion in December 2016. The information was released by the joint committee of MPs looking into Carillion’s collapse. Adam’s successor Zafar Khan’s contract was terminated last September after just eight months in the role. The chairman of the works and pensions select committee, Frank Field (right), said: “The other directors appear keen to set up the

students can only see 18 lines of an answer at a time. “They don’t like it,” she suggested. Another wondered why students can’t have a paper copy of the questions on the desk. Birt felt that security issues outweighed any backward step here. He said the ICAEW was still looking at how the case study will be presented. “We may split the question into different tabs,” he said. But he reiterated that what students were being asked to do will be exactly the same as the paper exam.

hapless Zafar Khan as the fall guy for the collapse. It is not lost on us, however, that he inherited Carillion’s mountain of debt.” WHISTLEBLOWER NAMED The newly appointed finance director of Carillion’s construction division, Emma Mercer, has been named as the whistleblower who brought down Carillion by MP Frank Field. The works and pensions committee chair said that it was Mercer who as early as last May warned board directors at the construction company of an

their workload was too great. One area that does not frighten Gen Next is the rise of digital. The younger generation expects automation and technology to transform large accountancy services, but they see such innovations as a key opportunity for adding more value to their roles. For more see ‘Generation Next: managing talent in large accountancy firms’. Truss pointed out that there are “people with a vested interest in more government”, and she is promising to wage war on their restrictive practices. She told a recent conference: “They can be the lobbyists. They can be the unions. They can be the bureaucrats. They can be the nimbys. I call them The Blob. Gloopy. Treacly. Hard to define. Harder to resist.” impending scandal over the books. She expressed serious reservations about the company’s accounting. Field explained that it took Mercer just six weeks in the job to “spot and pull the thread that began the entire company unravelling”. In the minutes from that board meeting the directors were warned by a senior lawyer that if they did not disclose the accounting issues on the construction of Royal Liverpool Hospital and the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station they risked being accused of misleading the Stock Market. PQ Magazine April 2018

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Register now for the new ACCA exams ACCA PQs can now register to sit the new Strategic Professional exams – the Strategic Business Leader case study and Strategic Business Reporting paper. Both will be ‘available’ for the first time this September, and ACCA says these new exams will continue to ensure students have the skills needed for the modern working world. As part of the qualification redesign the ACCA also introduced its new Ethics & Professional Skills module. ACCA’s director of professional qualifications, Judith Bennett, is advising students to complete the ethics module before taking these two new exams. The Strategic Business Leader case study focuses on leadership, integrating technical and ethical behaviour. It replaces both P1 and P3. The Strategic Business Reporting paper is an enhanced corporate reporting exam that replaces P2.

AAT enjoys its freedom It’s been nearly a year, but the AAT has gone from strength to strength after dropping its chartered sponsoring bodies. At the 2017 AGM, AAT members decided it was time sideline its sponsoring bodies – CIMA, CIPFA, the ICAEW and ICAS. These bodies were key in the foundation of the AAT over 36 years ago. They also ‘supplied’ many presidents and council members. AAT Council told members that going it alone would reflect its position as a full member of IFAC, and take account of the changing landscape among the professional

bodies in the sector. Members agreed and voted for ‘freedom’! AAT’s Andrew Williamson explains: “The relationship with the chartered accountancy bodies has evolved over the years.” He also stressed AAT recognised that increasing competitive conflicts and

Time to give a f*** When you are a professional accountant you have to behave professionally 24/7. That is what ICAEW member Paul Singleton found out to his cost recently. He was fined £1,500 plus costs of £8,000 after the red mist descended when he met some clients who hadn’t paid him.

He was actually in a pub having a birthday drink in Sheffield when the chance encounter happened and he used the f-word on three occasions! A complaint was made to the ICAEW about his behaviour and he was brought before the disciplinary committee. Singleton

the AAT’s own strong status no longer warranted the sponsoring bodies’ mandatory representation among AAT’s trustees. Williamson pointed out that the AAT continues to have a strong relationship with each of the bodies. An ICAEW spokeswoman told PQ: “Due to the growth and success of AAT, we understand that AAT no longer felt that it needed the support of the funding members. Both ICAEW and AAT continue to work together and to develop the strong relationship that exists between the two bodies.” accepted that, having seen ‘Mr B’, he went to speak to him and admitted swearing at him. He also accepted he swore at ‘Mrs A’. He was found to have broken the code of ethics and to have breached the fundamental principle of professional behaviour. Added together the fines and costs meant he paid more than £3,000 for every f***!

Plan ahead and book your exams Standard entry for June exams closes on 30 April 2018. Find out more:


PQ Magazine April 2018


ABC, it’s easy as 123

as the amount per day that a patient spends. This would involve taking the total cost pool and dividing it by the total drivers to give you an amount. Taking Ward One this would mean £200,000/20, giving a cost of £10,000 per bed per week, or by dividing it by seven this would give £1,428.57 a day. 5) Charge the cost drivers back to a patient: This could be based on their length of stay in each area or the amount of resource they consume. Patient XYZ spends three days in Ward One, meaning that they would incur costs of (£1,428.57 x 3) £4,285.71. This would give the cost of a patient that could be used for budgeting and pricing purposes. Within the NHS, tariffs are set for payment from Clinical Commissioning Groups, who allocate funding on behalf of the government. Costing and budgeting is vital in today’s environment as the NHS needs to become increasingly more competitive. Getting these tariffs and pricing principles correct will be a fundamental job of the costing and management accountants. I’m hoping this has helped to give some context to ABC. ABC is not an oldschool costing technique – it is a useful one to help with accurate costing and pricing. Although it will take time and effort, the advantages will far outweigh the disadvantages and will help with accurate decision making. Once a few examples have been worked through, the principles will become easier. If you don’t believe me, take a note from the Jackson 5. “ABC, it’s as easy as 1,2,3....” PQ • Katie Collins is a tutor with Kaplan Financial

Katie Collins takes you on a step-by-step journey through the world of activity based costing – a topic you really must know


anagement accounting is discretionary for the UK’s organisations, yet most feel the need to employ techniques in order to survive. The costing area of management accounting is one that appears to be an old-school technique, one that is hard to conceptualise. This article focuses on this area and with particular reference to activity based costing, better known as ABC. Traditional management accounting scenarios have used widgets as examples, but who really knows what a widget is? Costing isn’t only employed by manufacturing organisations and, in the 21st century, many service-based organisations also use activity-based costing to work out how much to charge for their services. The NHS, for example, would work out the cost of an inpatient stay for someone with a broken leg or the cost of an initial consultation with a doctor, particularly vital within today’s cash-strapped NHS. If we think about the terminology that is seen within costing studies and think about applying it to the NHS, we get the example here.

1) Identify the major activities: This first step would look at what the organisation does. In the case of the NHS, we could have a look at the major costs – ward costs, drugs, central office costs, staff costs, theatre time. The list is endless. The costing accountant would need to decide which of the activities will be the major ones. 2) Group the activities into cost pools: Cost pools are a holding pot for the costs. Think of this where the accounts payable team will be coding all of the costs into these major activities. For example, Ward One in the hospital will have costs such as nurses, porters, laundry, etc. All of these will be grouped together and coded for that particular ward. For example, the cost of Ward One is £200,000 a week. 3) Identify the cost drivers: Cost drivers are the activities that cause the cost to happen. For staff time it could be the number of beds within their ward or average patient appointment time. For example, Ward One has 20 beds. 4) Work out the cost driver rate: This would involve working out the amount per driver to charge back to an individual patient.This could be done for Ward One

Not a lot of people know that… For reference, the word widget is a placeholder name for an object or, more specifically, a mechanical or other manufactured device. It is an abstract unit of production. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “an indefinite name for a gadget or mechanical contrivance, esp. a small manufactured item”, and dates this use back to 1931.

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PQ profile

The write stuff

Meet Jean-Paul Noel-Cephise, former accountant and author of 7 Deadly Dates


s regular readers will know, PQ magazine always loves a story that is a little left-field. So we were more than happy to listen to ACCA lecturer and accountant’s Jean-Paul Noel-Cephise’s story when he called one day. We discovered that following a degree in finance he studied for the ACCA qualification. His current job as a freelance lecturer takes him all over the world. He has also worked as a legal executive in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. But he didn’t want to talk about accountancy! No, he wanted to talk about love, and a book he had just written. We told him the February issue, which came out just after Valentine’s Day, had come and gone, but he insisted. His book, ‘7 Deadly Dates’, charts his experience of internet dating, warts and all. It took three years of dating and six months to write his tome. He explained that after getting divorced in 2012 he wasn’t immediately comfortable with being single. He hadn’t

• 7 Deady Dates is reviewed on page 29 of this issue

dated for 17 years, so was a bit out of practice. When he got back into the game he was a little shocked by what he found, and began keeping a journal. His ‘experiences’ can now be read in ‘7 Deadly Dates’, and he’s got some great reviews, including one in this issue (see page 29). Jean-Paul must love the fact that he has been described as Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw – “well, if she was a bloke and lived in south London”. And we think his experiences would make a great TV show too (seriously). We just haven’t worked out who would play Jean-Paul yet, though. Dating guru The dates took him to the heart of Istanbul’s criminal underbelly and even to Bromley South station car park. His book is also packed with sound dating advice and in his circle he has become the dating guru, or maybe even the ‘UK Hitch’. So, what are the no-nos? Well, perhaps you shouldn’t add a foot to your height, as you will be found out! Oh, and use a picture that actually is you, or at least looks like you now. But if you want to know more you need to read his book. You might want to check out the website too and its great little video. You can also order the book or ebook. See PQ

A leading qualification for a changing world 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

Find out what this means for you:


PQ Magazine April 2018

ICAEW spotlight PQ

Helping you to help yourself

ICAEW gives PQ a round-up of what students need to know this Spring

technical knowledge grids for the 2018 exams are available now from and

Finance Act for 2018 exams Last year, two Finance Acts were published, but only one is examinable in the 2018 exams: Finance Act 2017 (enacted on 27 April 2017). The second Finance Act received Royal Assent on 16 November 2017 and is not examinable.

No late bookings after the deadline ICAEW is no longer able to accept late exam applications or changes to an exam application once the deadline has passed. It is your responsibility to apply for your exams by the exam closing deadline, so ensure you have all the key dates you need during your ACA studies.

Learning materials updated for 2018 ICAEW published learning materials for the ACA have undergone their annual review and have been updated for 2018. You should use the up-to-date editions of the learning materials to study for the respective exams in that year, as these will reflect any changes made within the syllabus, learning outcomes and the way in which you are assessed. The syllabus, study manuals, question banks and

PQ Magazine April 2018

Advanced Level moves to computer This summer will see the Advanced Level exams also begin the transition to the new computer-based format. The transition will see Corporate Reporting and Strategic Business Management become computer-based from this July, with the process culminating in the move of the Case Study to computer in July 2019, after this date all ACA exams will

be taken on computer. Support and guidance to help you prepare for the Advanced Level computer-based exams is in development, but look out for new resources within each ICAEW student update email, and at Technology and the ACA As all ACA exams will become computerbased by July 2019, becoming more allied to the everyday working life of ACA students, ICAEW continues to recognise the increasing importance of technology in the profession. Integrating the relevant aspects of technology across the ACA syllabus, learning materials and professional development, with content including data analytics, cyber risk and security, and cloud computing, has resulted in two Professional Level modules changing name from January 2018. Business and Finance has become Business, Technology and Finance, and Business Strategy has changed to Business Strategy and Technology. Key dates for your diary Keep your studies on track in 2018 by using the ACA planner, you can use it to note down when to arrange your sixmonthly reviews and update your online training file. Download your copy at Key spring and summer dates 20 April – March Professional Level exam results 30 April – Exam booking deadline for June Professional Level exams 14 May-18 June – Exam booking open for July Advanced Level exams 4-6 June – Professional Level exams 12 June – Advance information available for July Advanced Level exams 26 June – Advance information will be posted for July Advanced Level exams 2 July-6 August – Exam booking open for September Professional Level exams 13 July – June Professional Level exam results For regular updates visit the student community at community or join Students@ICAEW on Facebook. PQ • Thanks to the ICAEW for this article


PQ Awards 2018


The Café de Paris was once again the wonderful backdrop to the only accountancy awards worth winning! Yes, all the PQ magazine 2018 award winners now have one of our coveted PQs in their grasp. Before editor Graham Hambly took to the stage to announce the winners the packed-out venue was first entertained by Britain’s Got Talent star Daliso Chaponda. The top prize of the night, PQ of the Year, went to FairFX’s ACCA trainee Tyson Nsimbe. Although it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Nsimbe, he never gave up on his dream of becoming a qualified accountant. Distance Learning Student of the Year was CIMA PQ Toby Austin. It was fellow online studier Lucy Wheatley who nominated him, despite the fact that he beat her in every single exam. The NQ of the Year trophy went to ICAS-qualified Michael Scott. He was shortlisted last year for PQ of the Year but came back for more, and was delighted to pick up his prize. The one blot on his evening was the fact that his wife Roanna had to stay at home. She couldn’t leave the farm as the cows were calving! That was a new excuse for us at PQ. The ACCA picked up two awards on the night. It won Accountancy Body of the Year and also the award for innovation for its Ethics and Professional Skills module. Meanwhile, AAT College, The Training Place of Excellence, beat off the big boys to win the Private Sector College of the Year, and London South Bank University won the Public Sector prize for a second year in a row. CIPFA’s CEO Rob Whiteman also picked up an Editor’s award, as did Fiona Williams from Sutton Coldfield College.

Form an orderly queue... crowds gather in anticipation

THE INDEPENDENT JUDGING PANEL Rachel Kellett Head of Product Development, AAT Shaun Robertson ICAEW Director of Qualifications Julie Corkish Head of ACCA qualification – content and development Peter Stewart VP Progression at Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

TOP MAN: PQ of the Year Tyson Nsimbe, FairFX plc 16

Cheers! It’s time to get this party started

Looking good: the wonderful Café de Paris PQ Magazine April 2018

Awards 2018 PQ







NQ OF THE YEAR Michael Scott, EQ Accountants LLP (ICAS)

STUDY RESOURCE OF THE YEAR Premier Training (Premflix)

INNOVATION IN ACCOUNTANCY ACCA’s Ethics & Professional Skills module

BEST USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA Avado’s Caron Betts – ACCA exam countdown

TRAINING MANAGER/WORKPLACE MENTOR OF THE YEAR Mel Wright, Training manager, Lovewell Blake

ACCOUNTANCY TEAM OF THE YEAR Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust Finance Team



EDITOR’S AWARD #2 Fiona Williams, Sutton Coldfield College

APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR Rahil Mahmood, Rolls-Royce



PQ Magazine April 2018


PQ CIPFA Student Network

Your body wants you! T

he CIPFA Student Network (CSN) continues to represent students at the highest levels of the organsiation. It provides a consultative body for the institute to discuss proposed changes, feeding into the development of new initiatives such as CIPFA Learning (CIPFA's online learning package which offers e-learning, blended study options, and access to materials and discussion forums); the new apprenticeship programme; and the changes to the Practical Experience Portfolio (which must be completed as the final step to qualification). In addition, the CSN provides a strategic lead to local groups, coordinating events nationally and sharing best practice, as well as organising the national student conference in the summer. However, we need your help in three particular ways!

Getting involved While we receive a great deal of support from CIPFA, the CSN both nationally and in the regions is student led and student run. We have lots of space for new volunteers, and there really is something for everyone, regardless of how much time you have to spare – from attending meetings of your local CSN or dialling into our short monthly calls on the national CSN, to helping out at a single

event, to being the compere at a CIPFA pub quiz! There are loads of benefits to being involved. You get to network with your peers, more senior colleagues, and sometimes even examiners! I’ve found it invaluable professionally, when I’ve always had someone to call – whether it was about an ethical issue, because I needed some career advice, or was looking to compare notes on a particular topic. And, personally, I have made some great friends and had some really good times – one colleague always notes when promoting conference that she found a husband there! There are also opportunities to attend events representing the CSN, such as 18

CSN President Chris Roberts explains why you should get involved in the student network national conferences and even the PQ Awards – there may even be international events offering the opportunity for travel. Alongside these, as a volunteer there are also opportunities to gain really useful experiences that are great for your CV: I’ve spoken at the national conference, acted in a governance role on one of CIPFA's boards, managed a budget, developed a strategy, and had the opportunity to lead a large and geographically diverse team. If you’d like to get involved, let us know by emailing with a bit of information about yourself and what you’d like to do. Coming to an event We’ve been working hard to organise a series of events, including the popular strategic revision events, which have previously been offered around the country. There will be refreshments provided at face-to-face events. These will be held in the following locations and dates: • Webinar – 9 May or 16 May • London – 10 May • Birmingham – 22 May • Manchester – 26 May • Edinburgh – TBC in May In addition, I’m delighted to announce a further national series of networking, careers focused events. There will be drinks and nibbles provided at these face-to-face events. These will be held in the following locations and dates: • Bristol – TBC early April • Webinar – 3 April • Glasgow – 10 April • Cardiff – 11 April • London – 12 April • Newcastle – 20 April • Leeds – 17 May • Belfast – 21 May • Manchester – 23 May • Birmingham – 25 May There will also be an exams Q&A session, where you will be able to put your questions to the Chair of CIPFA’s Exam Panel, which makes final decisions on marking and special considerations, a reallife examiner, and someone from CIPFA

who deals with exams support and administration. This will be held on 21 May in London in the early evening. This session will also be offered via webinar, and if there is interest we may be able to arrange screens at local venues to watch in a group. Main conferences Looking ahead to the summer, CSN also organises the national student conference, which is held alongside the

main conference. As ever, this will be free to attend for students, with a discounted package available for those of you who want to experience the full conference. This year’s conference will be in Bournemouth, on 11 July (and 12 July if you pay to attend the second day). All of the above events, with the exception of the second day of CIPFA’s National Conference, are free of charge. Please email for more details or to register. In addition, Scotland CSN have negotiated a significant discount for students who would like to attend the annual CIPFA Scotland Conference in Glasgow on 22-23 March. The price is £165 but there is a discount code to bring it down to £35 – the discount code to use is Student18. There is a limited number of spaces for this offer. The student package will provide for attendance at both days of the conference plus the dinner, but does not include accommodation. This can be booked using the CIPFA website. Getting in touch Even if you don’t have time to volunteer, and can’t get to an event, we’d still love to hear from you! How are you finding CIPFA Learning? What do you think could be improved? What’s already working really well? CSN aims to represent students, so we need to know what you think. Email and let us know. PQ • Chris Roberts, pictured left, is President of the CIPFA Student Network PQ Magazine April 2018


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PQ leadership

Make your mark L

eadership means different things to different people. For some, it’s about being good at your job and being well liked. For others, it’s all about being in charge. Being a great leader should be an aspiration of any finance professional. Whether you are the managing director or a shift leader, the way you lead has a huge impact on everyone you work with. Leaders have the power to change the organisations around them. They make a difference to the business, rather than just making the business work. Leadership is about what you do and attaining skills that can be applied to the tasks that occur in every business. As professionals increase their knowledge of the profession, so do the opportunities for leadership roles in the workplace. ACCA support its students in this area. As part of the ACCA qualification re-design there’s a new Strategic Business Leader exam, which is designed to mirror the workplace and presents students with real-world challenges.

Practical tasks The exam will require candidates to take on various roles within the main organisation, or in connected organisations such as consultancy practices, audit or regulatory authorities, or other connected stakeholders. Tasks set will be practical, requiring students to apply any models, theories or techniques they deem appropriate to complete the task. The assessment is marked on how the task is completed and whether the objectives of the task have been achieved, allowing students to apply the right technical, ethical and professional skills to tasks that would be expected in the workplace. The syllabus brings together core areas from governance, risk and strategy, links to other leadership areas such as organisational control, innovation and change management – and uses new technologies and data analytics. Ethics remain crucial. ACCA pioneered ethics when it introduced the Professional Ethics Module back in 2007, and it remains a core element of the ACCA qualification today, with an updated module re-launched in October 2017. Every exceptional leader has developed and honed their leadership skills, continuously learning and developing over time to shape their leadership success. By 2020, all professional accountants 20

Alan Hatfield tells you exactly what you need to know to improve your leadership skills will need to develop and balance the necessary professional quotients to fit their role and stage of career. The seven qualities that have been identified in ACCA’s professional accountant – the future research are the key drivers shaping the profession over the next decade and beyond: • Technical and ethical competencies (TEQ): the skills and abilities to perform activities consistently to a defined standard while maintaining the highest standards of integrity, independence and scepticism. • Intelligence (IQ): the ability to acquire and use knowledge: thinking, reasoning and solving problems. • Creativity (CQ): the ability to use existing knowledge in a new situation, to make connections, explore potential outcomes, and generate new ideas. • Digital quotient (DQ): the awareness and application of existing and emerging digital technologies, capabilities, practices, strategies and culture. • Emotional intelligence (EQ): the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others, harness and apply them to tasks, and regulate and manage them. • Vision (VQ): the ability to anticipate future trends accurately by extrapolating existing trends and facts, and filling the gaps by thinking innovatively. • Experience (XQ): the ability and skills to understand customer expectations meet desired outcomes and create value. Individually they are not new to the

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Sir Winston Churchill

profession, but together these skills represent how finance professionals can proactively manage the future, enhance their preparedness for the unknown and help them to succeed. The seven skills aren’t meant as a checklist but a guide. They can help professionals recognise where they may excel and where they need to improve through continuous professional development, all of which professional accountants already know to do so well. Tomorrow’s leaders need to be aware of increased regulation and stronger governance, which is expected to have the greatest impact on the profession over the longer term. All members of the profession will be affected directly or indirectly and to varying degrees, and regional variations will also influence regulation and governance. Digital technologies are also a major driver for change as they will transform the role and the competencies that accountants require. Smart software systems will eventually replace manual work (like bookkeeping) as well as automating more complex and multifaceted processes such as the financial close. Variety of skills All professional accountants will be expected to look beyond the numbers, and to possess a variety of skills. They will need to meet more frequent requests for holistic and forward-looking information, and may also face demand for more frequent ad-hoc reporting from stakeholders as the barriers are eroded between financial and non-financial performance. And, finally, continuing globalisation is leading to an increased rate of change and economic volatility. Professional accountants will need the interpersonal skills to work as part of a diverse team. Finance professionals will be working with team members around the world and from younger generations who have different aspirations and expectations from previous generations. Finance leaders will always be needed in future to maximize productivity, shape a positive culture and ensure organisations succeed. After all, finance is the language of business. Some people are natural born leaders, and most can develop leadership skills with a combination of practice, mentorship, self-belief and a world-class professional accountancy qualification behind them. PQ • Alan Hatfield, ACCA executive director – strategy and development PQ Magazine April 2018

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PQ CIMA exams

Wrestle with your future! A

re you wondering what a Sumo wrestler on a unicycle has to do with being a PQ? Well, let me tell you this: this image and the concept behind it might just change your life! SUMO is an acronym, originally ‘Shut Up and Move On’; modified for a younger audience to ‘Stop, Understand, Move On’. I came across SUMO and its creator Paul McGee many years ago when the idea was not particularly well known. These days it’s big news – SUMO is used in schools and businesses across the globe. The key principles that underpin the SUMO approach offer a simple but a very powerful tool. They’re about taking responsibility for our lives and careers, reflecting on the situations we find ourselves in and not getting bogged down by things that don’t matter. It’s about prioritising the stuff that affects the long term and letting go of things that seem important at the time but, when set in context, are not worth the stress. Key principles These are principles we can use in our everyday lives, our studies and our careers to help us make the right decisions. Once you are familiar with it, the SUMO approach to decision making may offer a framework around which you can assess issues in your CIMA case study exams. Let’s look at a couple of examples of SUMO in action. There are six key principles – the first is ‘Change your T Shirt’. This one is about taking responsibility – it’s your life, take control of it. We have to stop thinking that things just happen to us and instead reflect on our role in what’s happening and determine how we can own and change our behaviours to achieve our goals. The SUMO explanation of principle one is as follows:


• Shut Up acting on autopilot and Move On to self-awareness. • Shut Up blaming someone else and Move On to personal responsibility. • Shut Up about missed opportunities, regret and stagnation. Move On to fulfilling potential, using talents and growing as a person. • Shut Up being the passenger; Move On to being the driver. • Shut Up speaking ‘victim’ language; Move On to speaking SUMO language. • Shut Up wishing life would get better; Move On to making it so. There are also seven questions that should guide our decision making and help us to cope with life’s challenges. These are: 1. Where is this issue on a scale of 1-10? 2. How important will this be in six months’ time? 3. Is my response appropriate and effective? 4. How can I influence or improve the situation? 5. What can I learn from this? 6. What will I do differently next time?

CIMA’s Jackie Durham has some simple advice – shut up and move on!

7. Can I find any positives in this situation? If we think about these examples in terms of our accounting exams, there’s some pretty good advice here. If you fail an exam it’s not the end of the world. Undoubtedly, it might be a real blow in the short term, especially of it’s your last OT in a level, your final case study before ‘exams complete’ or the exam that would have gained you a pay rise. However, if you use principle one and reflect on what went wrong rather than assuming you’ve been unlucky, you’ll be able to identify the steps to take to ensure a better result next time around. And if you look at the seven questions, it may feel like a disaster today but in six months’ time, this exam may be history, particularly if you work through the full set of SUMO questions. There’s much more SUMO. Visit to learn how the concept can change positively impact your thinking and your life. PQ • Jackie Durham, education and training consultant, CIMA

PQ Magazine April 2018

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PQ blockchain

Blockchain and the fu With bitcoin seemingly always in the news there’s much interest around the blockchain concept. David Lyford-Smith explains what it is and how it works


t’s hard to avoid hearing about blockchain these days – mostly in the context of the rampant interest in crypto-currencies such as bitcoin. Blockchain is the recording system that underpins bitcoin and effectively all crypto-currencies – a distributed system that keeps everyone’s records in agreement, all without using a central database or organiser. Blockchain is a whole new method of record-keeping that has some fascinating possibilities for both the wider business community, and specifically for accountants. It’s also a difficult subject to get in to, as it’s very complicated and quite unlike anything else. But although the details behind how blockchain works are complex, it can be understood in terms of what impact it makes. That’s the goal of a new white paper from ICAEW’s IT Faculty, entitled Blockchain and the future of accountancy. I’ll be taking you through a few of the key lessons of the paper here; you can read the full paper at

Key qualities of blockchain The three key features of blockchain according the paper are the three ‘Ps’: 1. Propagation of new information from origin to a group of collaborators, without

a central control or ‘master copy’. 2. Permanence of transactions is assured, as everyone has their own copy and can identify and reject attempts to change the record. 3. Programmability can be added to blockchains, allowing self-executing contracts to be contained alongside transactions. The most important quality of a blockchain is that they can be decentralised – that is, there is no need for owner, controller, gatekeeper, master copy, or authenticator. While some blockchains might choose to have more centralisation, none is necessary and a blockchain can work as a network without a leader. In accounting terms, what we have is a ledger of transactions that is shared among many people. Anyone can add to it, and we know that additions are permanent and uneditable. What’s more, we don’t have to expend effort reconciling different ledgers, as the blockchain process automatically creates consensus between all the parties. So we could theoretically cut down on the work currently expended in performing consolidations and reconciliations. We could also use a blockchain-like system to add certainty and efficiency to unsure or slow markets,

PQ wellbeing

CABA partners with Kaplan to improve students’ resilience


ABA, the charity that supports the wellbeing of chartered accountants, has partnered with Kaplan to offer free ‘Boost your Resilience’ workshops to ACA students throughout April. The 90-minute sessions are specifically designed for students and will give them the opportunity to learn evidencebased, practical techniques to help develop a resilient attitude and learn how to cope more effectively with setbacks. They will also provide advice on how to improve pressure and stress management skills, to enable students to overcome challenges in both their personal and professional lives. The sessions will run in Kaplan’s centres in Birmingham, Leeds, London and Manchester, with limited spaces at each venue. Priority will be given to ACA students,


although these workshops are open to all Kaplan students and Kaplan tutors, too. Laura Little, learning and development manager at CABA, said: “Resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back from difficult times and setbacks in life. Through our partnership with Kaplan we are offering students advice on how they can develop a resilient attitude. Being flexible in our approach to stress is vital, and we believe that these workshops will help students differentiate between pressure and stress, so they can eventually find the right way of coping.” Last year, CABA’s student wellbeing research revealed that almost two in five students (38%) are unhappy about their work-life balance, with those working in small and large firms struggling the most. Some 28% said they are expected to work extended hours.

This course will help address these feelings of worry and provide easy-to-implement tactics to enable attendees to feel more in control. Little added: “‘Throughout our careers we all encounter multiple challenges. From learning the ropes through to senior management, there’ll be times when we’re under significant pressure and not sure how to proceed. This is also true of our personal lives, be it the pressures of family life, or financial planning for retirement, learning coping mechanisms now at the beginning of a career can help us be more resilient and reap the benefits for years to come. If you implement the right activities, on a consistent basis, you will become more resilient with each passing day, and able to cope better with life’s setbacks while increasing confidence and self-belief.” To book your space visit Kaplan-resilience Students can access CABA’s practical online wellbeing tools and training 24 hours a day for advice and tips to help navigate their way through day-to-day challenges. • Thanks to CABA for this article PQ Magazine April 2018

blockchain PQ

uture of accountancy Blockchain FAQs • Is it something to do with bitcoin? Yes – blockchain was originally created alongside bitcoin, and it’s the system that bitcoin uses to track ownership of the digital currency. But blockchain can be used for other things, and could be an asset registry or ledger instead of a currency. • How does it work? The full answer is very complicated but, in essence, new transactions are bundled into blocks before being posted. Blocks are then verified by anyone that has the computing power free, which is a complex process. Blocks are then broadcast and added to each participant’s ledger. Blocks also refer back to the preceding block to avoid deletion or ambiguity. • Does this mean anyone can see my data? It depends. The bitcoin blockchain is totally open, but many other variants allow encrypted data or limit access to known and trusted parties.

such as land registry. Blockchains are particularly useful where we have a large number of different parties involved in one business process. Maersk, for example, are investigating the use of blockchain in shipping, where a single crate might pass through over 100 transactions involving 40 or more parties. There are substantial technical, legal, regulatory, and governance issues to resolve before a solution like this can truly be put into place – but it could be a powerful application for this new method of recordkeeping. The paper outlines how blockchain

PQ Magazine April 2018

could affect the accountancy profession. In a blockchain environment, there is little need to check that one participant’s records agree with another’s; this makes some transactional-level assurance obsolete, such as existence and accuracy. However, more complicated and judgmental areas, such as valuation and completeness, are if anything more important. There is also a greater need to test the controls of how new entries get onto the blockchain, and to what extent physical assets correlate with its content. All this likely means that accountants as a whole will shift to more high-value and judgment-driven work in a

blockchain-driven environment. Technological understanding of blockchain might be a useful differentiator, but for the most part knowledge of its key strengths and weaknesses will be sufficient. But there may well be some contraction of services around bookkeeping, reconciliation, and other transactional work that may affect specific accountants if they aren’t prepared. Blockchain isn’t the right solution for everything – it currently is very costly and complex to run, and isn’t an improvement over a central database in all cases. But it is a potent new option to explore where there’s a need to keep a group of actors on the same page but where a central trusted party is unavailable or unaffordable. PQ • David Lyford-Smith, ICAEW Technical Manager, IT and the Profession



Micro-economics 101 Demand Curves A change in the price The basic concept is simple enough: if the price of goods increases consumers don’t want to (or can’t afford to) buy as much as before. Therefore the total demand for those goods decreases. The opposite is true if the price decreases, because consumers can now afford to buy a greater quantity (although there are limits to this!). For example, if we plotted the price and demand of bicycles on a graph, we would get a downward sloping curve, something like this:

We can see that at a price of $80 per bicycle, the total demand is 2,000 units. But if the price were to decrease to $40 each, demand would double to 4,000 units. The blue line hasn’t moved at all, we are just hitting it in a different place as the price falls. A change in other things Now let’s consider other things which might change the demand for bicycles. Perhaps the Government launches a campaign encouraging people to start riding bicycles as an alternative to driving their cars to work. This campaign hasn’t changed the price of bicycles at all, but the demand is likely to increase, in which case, the whole demand curve will move.

Now, at the original price of $80 per bicycle, the demand has risen to 3,000 units, without having to change the price at all. The whole demand curve has shifted up/right. The same might happen if cycling becomes more fashionable after the Olympic games, as happened in 2012. Alternatively, the demand curve would shift down/left if the overall demand fell. Perhaps there is a period of very bad 26

In the latest of our occasional Back to Basics series, Cat Hill looks at demand and supply curves, and gives advice on tackling conceptual questions weather, or cycling accidents are often reported in the press, which discourages the activity. So the golden rule to remember is: a change in the price doesn’t move the curve. A change in anything other than the price, does move the curve. Now let’s try to apply this rule to an example question, to see how it might be tested in an exam. Example 1 Which of the following would cause the demand curve of train tickets to move up/right? A. A fall in the price of train tickets. B. Motorway tolls being scrapped. C. Sales tax on train tickets increasing from 0% to 20%. D. The price of petrol increasing by 10%. Firstly, we know we are looking for something which moves the curve itself. Therefore, we can eliminate anything which changes the price of the train tickets themselves. That rules out A, which is clearly the price changing, but also rules out C as the increase in sales tax charged on the tickets would increase their price. So we are left with B and D as our two possible options. We are looking for something which makes the demand curve move up/right so, it must be something which increases demand. Motorway tolls would make the cost of motoring lower, so the public are likely to drive instead of take the train. That would decrease demand for train tickets and shift the demand curve down/left. We are now left with D as the only option. If the price of petrol increased, fewer people would want to drive, therefore they are more likely to take the train. Demand for train tickets increases and the demand curve shifts up/right. Therefore the correct answer is D. Supply Curves These are similar to demand curves, but from the supplier’s point of view. This time, if the price rises, the supplier wants to supply a lot of units because they can make a lot of money. If the price falls, they will reduce their supply and probably sell something else instead. This gives an upward sloping curve. However, the supply can still be

affected by things other than price e.g. material shortages, costs which can’t be passed on to the customer and new technology which improves efficiency, so the same golden rule still holds true: A change in the price doesn’t move the curve. A change in anything other than the price, does move the curve. Example 2 Which of the following would NOT move the supply curve of supermarket own brand bread? A. Consumers are willing to pay more for bread because it is fashionable. B. A new piece of more efficient bread making machinery. C. Poor harvests making flour expensive. The extra costs can’t be passed on to the consumers. D. The supermarket can make bread or bagels but not both. The bagel profit margin is increasing. This time we are looking for something that doesn’t move the curve. That could be either because the price of bread has changed, or it’s something which won’t affect the supply of bread at all. Option A doesn’t directly mention bread prices, but if the consumers are willing to pay more for bread, then the price can be increased and the supermarket will want to supply more. However, the supply curve itself hasn’t moved. A new piece of machinery should increase productivity and the extra efficiency improves margins, therefore increasing the amount the supermarket wants to supply. However, this doesn’t change the price which can be charged, so the supply curve will shift down/right and we can eliminate B. If the price of flour increases but the supermarket can’t pass on this cost, the profit margin will be squeezed. The supermarket would want to supply less bread, so the supply moves up/left and we can eliminate C. If the supermarket could make a larger profit margin on bagels, they would prefer to make these rather than bread. This moves the supply curve of bread up/left but doesn’t change the price, so we can eliminate D. Therefore, the correct answer is A, as it’s the only option which wouldn’t shift the supply curve. Top tip: if you have scrap paper in the exam room, you might find it easier to visualise what happens to the curve if you draw it. PQ • Cat Hill is a tutor for AVADO PQ Magazine April 2018

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PQ financial statements

Keeping it real T

o meet their basic objective financial statements must be useful and the information relevant and reliable and a faithful representation. Information will have relevance if it influences the decisions of the users. Irrelevant information has no use. Relevance and reliability or faithful representation are primary characteristics relating to content, together with the threshold quality and materiality. The primary characteristics relating to presentation include comparability, clarity and understandability. Such financial statements are based on accounting standards issued by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), UK GAAP and their Financial Reporting Standards (FRSs) or those issued by the IASB, the International Accounting Standards Board, the International Financial Reporting Standards (IAS/IFRSs) The IASB’s (International Accounting Standards Board) The Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting (issued 2015) and the UK GAAP Statement of Principles identify the major user groups of financial reports: • Potential investors/shareholders. • Employees. • Lenders. • Suppliers. • Other trade creditors. • Customers. • Government. • The public. Of these, the IASB’s Conceptual Framework identifies potential and existing investors, lenders and other creditors as the primary users. The others being interested parties to whom general purpose financial reports are directed and may also find such financial reports useful. So, what are the needs of these groups and how would they use the published statements?

Potential investors/shareholders This group would comprise of both existing and potential shareholders, who would be considering whether to invest or disinvest in the business. Equity investors consider two elements to their investment – income and gain (income in the form of dividends and gain in terms of the share price rising). The investor group would also be interested in profitability and its trend over a period of time. If the investor takes a short-term view, then current dividends are of interest; a long-term view would concern future earnings. A guide to the future can to some extent be seen in company reports with the Chairman’s statement; although 28

using International Financial Reporting Standards the Statement of Cash Flows, IAS7, will be of particular interest here. The banks make up much of this grouping and would also have an interest in the net realisable value (NRV) of the assets. Medium- and long-term creditor groups will review the future cash flow potential of the business. They would have an interest in current and future profitability and growth prospects of the entity. A further consideration would be on the priority of claims on the business’ resources. Suppliers This group comprises the trade creditors – an important element in the supply of a business’ working capital. They would be interested in the financial stability of the business in terms of cash flow and its ability to meet its short-term liabilities. Suppliers would consider current and future cash flow, together with current and future profitability. An interest in the company’s future strategy is also likely, as they would need to consider how they, as suppliers fit with the strategy; other trade creditors would have similar needs. Customers This group will be interested in the business’ short- and long-term financial stability and its potential to supply highquality goods and services with, where appropriate sound after sales service. They may also have interest in the environmental policy of the business.

these are based on current performance, company forward strategy is often included.

Carillion report: who read that?

Employees It is encouraging to note that some companies produce a separate employees’ report. Employees and their representatives require information on business performance for two principal reasons: • Wage and salary negotiation. • Assessment of current and forward employment opportunities. They would be interested in both the current financial stability and the longterm financial viability of the business and would need information in a clear, simple and understandable form. I have seen some employee reports that include a value-added approach rather than a profit and loss account review of performance.

Philip Dunn explains the importance of financial statements and who they are of most use to

Government Government departments require published financial information for the purposes of company taxation and VAT. The government is a decision-maker and its forward economic plans are influenced by the performance of all businesses within various sectors of the economy. Current financial reports will be used as a base in its economic models for assessing future performance.

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

The public Businesses do not exist in isolation; they are part of society at large and as such generate much public interest, so the public are often referred to as ‘stakeholders’. At local and national level, factors such as employment and the environment are often key interests. Some of these issues may be included in a business’ financial and long-term strategy. Above we have referred to business in the form of companies. However, we should be aware that public sector bodies – such as local authorities and NHS trusts, together with non-profitorganisations and charities – publish financial statements that are also relevant to a wide range of user groups. PQ

Lenders This is often referred to as the loan creditor group. It would include the longmedium and short-term lenders of money. The concern of the existing and/or potential loan creditor is whether they will get their money back. A short-term loan creditor will immediately consider cash flow. The Statement of Cash Flow, a section within Financial Reporting Standard, FRS 102 (UK GAAP); and for those companies

PQ Magazine April 2018

careers PQ

social media ROUND-UP PQ was all over social media like a rash following the PQ magazine Awards – you may have noticed. You can even get a flavour of what you missed with our one-minute highlights video at pqmags/videos/1743042679089971/ It was another great night and lots of fun was had by all. They are definitely the coolest accountancy awards around (that’s what we told everyone on LinkedIn)! Meanwhile, over at the ACCA the P1 examiner was putting up lastminute articles. We put the story on our website and tweeted out where to find the article on organising transactions (full story on page 8). HTFT thanked us for “a good spot”. On the great Facebook group, the UK (Only) ACCA Distance Learning Students, one PQ put the cat among the pigeons by asking: “I’ve heard conflicting info regarding taking food in to the exam… has anyone sat here [Stevenage] before and taken food in?” It was quickly pointed out that the rules state that only water/soft drinks are allowed in the exam hall. Even bananas are not allowed! “I took a banana in with me in the early days of sitting and it was taken off me, I have additional time so I’m so hungry when it’s over,” said one student. The big advice was to eat just before going into the exam, and the hungry Stevenage PQ was reminded “it’s an exam not a picnic”. Several PQs also complained about the noise people make with food when they do get it past the invigilators. “My last exam I was sat next to someone with a stack of Belvita biscuits and the noise of them rustling and crunching was so annoying!!”

We also noticed that the online trend of cat pictures seems to have been replaced with people ‘showing off’ their study areas. Top marks here at PQ went to Sharon Rodgers for her very tidy and ordered area. Can you do better? Send your pictures to PQ Magazine April 2018

Life at Explore Learning Toby Austin, 28, is a Financial Planning & Analysis Manager based in Guildford, Surrey. He has worked for the firm for three years. A CIMA studier with a maths degree from Southampton, Toby was recently named PQ’s Distance Learning Student of the Year What time does your alarm clock go off on a working day? 6:30am – although I’m a serial snoozer… What’s the first thing you do when you get to your desk? Coffee! What’s on your desk? A mini whiteboard (littered with workings and the occasional doodle), some congratulations cards and a toy dinosaur. What’s the best thing about where you work? The people – makes all the difference. Where’s your favourite place to go for lunch? Pret a Manger – great veggie options. What (or who) can you see when you sit at your desk? A big TV on the wall, which will be showing every World Cup game. What more could you ask for? Which websites are your favourites and why? Letterboxd, which is cool for

reviewing and sharing favourite films. And BBC Sport (I think I open it up each morning before my eyes are even open). Which websites do you use for work? One of the main ones is – an infographic creator where you can make dynamic charts and data visualisations. Highly recommended! How many hours a week do you spend in meetings? Probably between eight and 10. I try to keep them short and sweet. What time do you leave the office? 6pm most days. How do you relax? I play bass in an indie band called Indigo Club (we’re on Spotify and everything). It’s great fun! What’s your favourite tipple? Pale ale or red wine… but never both (learnt that the hard way). How often do you take work home? Almost never – I’m guilty

of staying too late sometimes, but try to keep life at home separate. What is your favourite TV show? Black Mirror – it’s scary how close it is to society today. Summer or winter? Winter (I feel like I should apologise for this). Pub or club? Pub. Who is your hero? Flea – best bassist of all time. If you had a time machine, where would you go? I think I would go back to England in the late 1950s. It would be interesting to see how much (and how little) has changed. I’d get to meet my grandad, who my mum says was just the kindest man. And see Villa win their most recent FA Cup! If you hadn’t chosen accountancy, where might you be right now? Trying to play music in a house band or a wedding band. You never know, there’s still time!

It’s never enough When is enough enough? It appears that even those on sixfigure salaries believe they are still struggling to make ends meet. A study by Caxton FX of those earning over £100,000 discovered a third of respondents did not consider themselves wealthy. Many in the study also followed mindful spending habits, regularly seeking the cheapest deals on food, flights, insurance and utilities.

Protection works Ending sexual harassment also helps #TheEconomyToo, says the International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagard (below left). She explained that women in countries with strong protection against harassment are more likely to be economically and financially active. According to a recent study, financial access for women in emerging and developing countries is 16% higher when harassment protections are in place.

In brief Salaries on the rise again Advertised salaries for accounting roles increased by 2.6% month-on-month, according to new stats released by CV-Library. MD Lee Biggins said that given that pay declined in January it was great to see that salaries are on the rise again for accountancy professionals. This jump in salaries for accountants compares very favourably to the 1.2% increase in the legal sector. It is also double the rises being seen by staff in the IT sector.

The PQ Book Club: books you should read 7 Deadly Dates by Jean-Paul Noel-Cephise (Compass, £7.99) On the back cover of this entertaining, if slim, book the author is described as “the UK’s answer to Carrie Bradshaw – if Carrie Bradshaw was a bloke and lived in Croydon”. The premise is a simple one: a divorcée the wrong side a 40 wants a partner and so sets off on a series of dates arranged via the internet. Trouble is, each of his dates are, in turn, guilty of one of the seven deadly sins – gluttony, lust, greed, sloth, wrath, pride and envy. So we meet beautiful Anna

from Poland, who can’t be bothered with personal hygiene; child-free Phoebe, who is envious of the mothers she sees around her, and asks the writer on their first date if he’d be willing to father a child with her; and, most disturbingly of all, Sophie, a beautiful Russian who lures the (rather gullible) author to Istanbul, and eventually into the nightclub she works in, where he is fleeced for £2,000 for drinks! These seven cautionary tales are well told, are often highly amusing and frequently toecurlingly embarrassing. There’s

more than a tinge of sadness in these pages, too. One has to admire Noel-Cephise’s candid writing and nopuches-pulled honesty (he is a freelance lecturer, but started out his working life as an accountant). This book – a very easy read at under 100 pages – would make a very useful self-help guide for those about to play the dating game after a long absence from the scene. PQ rating 4/5 Entertaining, but for this male reviewer a bit scary, too! 29

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Card transactions, driven by our love of contactless, are now outpacing cash ones for the first time. The Bank of England has said we passed ‘cash peak’ sometime last year. Apart from being a seminal moment in the history of finance, there is real concern that the decline in cash transactions could lead to higher costs for smaller retailers as cash remains the cheapest means of payment. It is estimated that cash transactions cost retailers less than one and a half pence per transaction (0.155 of the value), compared to over five pence per transaction for debit cards, 0.24% by value, explained Sir Jon. Even with cheques and bank transfers in the 1970s cash accounted for 95% of all transactions. Countries such as Sweden have already passed peak cash in terms of volume.


DRIVE OF A WOULD YOU VOTE LIFETIME Forget how much the car cost, what about the number plate? One of the UK’s most soughtafter licence plates has just been sold at auction for a whopping £92,000. The plate TAX 1, which has been in private hands for over 40 years, was sold to an unnamed bidder.

SENSIBLE? Accountant Peter Saxon runs his practice out of Church Road in leafy Wimbledon, south-west London. It is also the address of a newish political party – the Sensible Party, where Peter is leader, nominating officer and treasurer (obviously). So you know, the campaigns officer is Urszula Saxton. Formed in March 2015, we discovered from their website that the Sensible Party was formed by sensible people to promote sensible policies! However, when you click on the ‘policies’ button you will discover that “we are presently in the process of forming a comprehensive number of polices”. Check out more at


Who would have thought that some old set of accounts could be worth so much! The 1483 accounts from Richard III’s estates in Cornwall look set to fetch £6,000 when they are sold at auctioneer’s Bonhams this month.

A memory-enhancing device that provides the brain with small burst of electricity boosted recall in the participants by 15%. This ‘neurostimulation’ was given to patients via electrodes when they struggled to learn a word. No one, however, is suggesting accountancy students need to plug themselves into the grid to improve pass rates.

FORGET ECONOMISTS –CHECK THE PREGNANCY RATE! New research suggests if you want to know when the next recession is going to hit you don’t need a room full of economists – just look at the pregnancy rates! A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research has discovered that when the fertility rate dropped the economy was about to slow down. The study looked at over 100 million births over almost 20 years and found six months before each of the past three recessions in the US the number of pregnancies fell. As Professor Kasey Buckles says: “One way to think about this is that the decision to have a child often reflects one’s level of optimism about the future.”

APOLOGY FOR AVOIDANCE ERROR The new FCA chairman Charles Randell has come clean about his ‘error of judgement’ after it emerged he had invested in a tax avoidance scheme. He admitted recently that he put money into the Ingenious Film Partners 2 scheme between 2006 and 2011. He repaid £114,000 plus interest in 2015 after a letter from HMRC. The treasury select committee said it was satisfied that Randell (pictured right) has the professional competence and personal independence for his new role.




The ICAEW has integrated the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development into its syllabus. The goals aim to transform our world by 2030. Among the goals are ‘no poverty’, ‘zero hunger’ and ‘gender equality’. And, you can now test your knowledge of the world’s most sustainable issues and learn about the goals all at the same time, thanks to the ICAEW’s new online game. Check out if you live up to the UN standards – go to


Your home reference set What is your study area missing? How about a Collins Home Reference collection! With a dictionary, thesaurus and guides to spelling, grammar and punctuation, this set is worth just under £50. The collection also includes a guide to scrabble, a book on quotations and a crossword solver’s dictionary. What more would you want? Send us your name and postal address to be entered for this great giveaway. Head up your email ‘Collins’ and send it to It’s as easy as that!

Pick and mix – give it a go! We have seven great books to give away to seven lucky readers. Those whose names are pulled out of the hat will be sent one of the following titles: ‘What Everyone Needs To Know About Tax’; ‘Digby Jones Fixing Business’; ‘Ambition: Why It’s Good To Want More and How to Get It’; ‘Confidence Pocketbook’, ‘The Highly Profitable Accountant’; ‘The Little Book of Holistic Accounting’; and ‘What We Mean When We Talk About Leadership’. Send us your name and address to be entered for our lucky dip. Head up your email ‘Pick and mix’ and send to

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 13 April. The main draw will take place on Monday 16 April 2018.


PQ Magazine April 2018

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PQ magazine, April 2018  

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

PQ magazine, April 2018  

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