PQ magazine, June 2021

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June 2021






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June 2021

IN THIS ISSUE A note from the Editor

21 Study advice #1 Five top tips for graduates starting their accountancy qualification

So that’s it, the PQ awards 2021 are sorted. Some people told us we were being brave to go ahead, but we felt we couldn’t wait any longer! It’s been great to receive all your positive feedback. Going live is ‘dangerous,’ but we hope we captured the ‘authenticity factor’ you get from running a live event. See it all at https://tinyurl.com/26bv9tb6. Our 21 trophies are now winging their way to the winners and CIPFA is planting a tree for every one of those, too. We have some great pics on page 16. There’s also great advice in this issue from Anna Hardy-Watmough for those starting their professional qualification. For a start, getting 50% is all you need to pass most accountancy exams! That can be a bit weird for people used to getting high marks though. Read more on page 20. Don’t forget our five pages of tips for the ACCA June exams, but note our health warning too – you only pass if you put the work in! The profession has also been looking at the expectations and aspirations of Gen Z. It makes fascinating reading – see page 19. Graham Hambly, Editor and Publisher, PQ magazine

23 Back to basics It’s all about assets, with Tom Clendon

News 04 Ireland exam fiasco Uproar as cancelled exam leaves PQs fuming at ICAI blunder 05 Generation Z ACCA/IFAC reports highlight career ‘zones’ for tomorrow’s professionals 06 CIMA pass rates It’s good news this time around for Operational case study sitters 08 New KPMG boss Jon Holt confirmed as the new man in the hot seat 09 ICAEW results Business Strategy and Technology is the ‘star’ of the March exam diet 10 Mental health Students’ mental wellbeing is a cause for

concern on the UK’s campuses, says new research from PwC 12 Tech news The UK government is considering the creation of a digital currency Features, etc 14 Have your say It’s time to get serious about audit reform; CIMA just can’t ignore the pandemic; and thanks for the goodies! Plus our social media round-up 16 PQ Awards 2021 So who were the winners this time out? All is revealed here!

24 Employment law Defining a person’s employment status 26 ACCA Examiners’ Reports Helena Jones on the reports being published twice a year; and our Bumper Quiz answers 27 Test bank What do you know about Activity Based Costing? 28 CIMA case studies Put your technical knowledge to good use 30 VAT Neil Da Costa keeps it simple when it comes to VAT on overseas transactions 32 CIPFA spotlight Highlighting the importance of CPD 33 ACCA exam tips Five pages of great exam tips just for you! 38 Key Performance Indicators Geoff Cordwell on how to use KPIs in the ACCA’s APM exam 39 Intangible assets Top tutor Sarah Ardiles explains what they are and how to calculate them 40 Study advice #2 What to look for when choosing your next accountancy course 41 ACCA initiative Association launches scholarship for women 42 Social mobility EY Foundation

p33 widens the net with the launch of employability programme for the professional services sector 43 Careers Life at the University of South Wales; our Agony Aunt Karen Young has more wise career advice; and our Book Club review 44 Fun The lighter side of life; and more great PQ giveaways The columnists Lisa Nelson The virtues of a life of learning 4 Robert Bruce It’s not just auditors failing the ‘scepticism test’ 6 Prem Sikka Audit reforms fail to tackle the big (4) issues 8 Anna Kate Phelan How to pass a remotely invigilated exam 10 Mike Day Why going solo is the way ahead for many UK workers 12

19 Generation Z We take an in-depth look at the ACCA/IFAC report into what the future holds for PQs – so get in the zone!



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PQ Magazine June 2021


LISA NELSON The virtues of a life of learning

I appreciate the idea of a life of learning may feel daunting, especially if you have just started studying for an accounting qualification. This is, of course, in addition to 16 years of full-time education – surely after that long you have learned everything you need to know? It’s only natural you may be looking for an ‘end point’ after which you can relax and enjoy life. However, if you want to have a long and rewarding career you will likely have to adopt a ‘life of learning’ mindset. The World Economic Forum expects new technologies to displace about 85 million jobs in the next five years, making the ability to learn new skills imperative. Accountants are not immune from these changes. In fact, many financial skills are process-driven, making them particularly suited for applying new technologies such as AI and robotics. Consider that, firstly, lifelong learning can be incredibly rewarding and even improve your health; learning a new skill can be as good for your brain as going to the gym is for your waistline. Secondly, it can open your mind to a world of opportunity and possibility, fuelling your imagination and altering your perspective. This is not because you have just learned how powerful your new AI driven accounting system is. It can help ask better questions that might require a lifetime of learning to answer. Lisa Nelson is Director of Learning at Kaplan

Irish chartered exams ‘abandoned’ The massive fallout from the Chartered Accountants of Ireland’s ‘botched AAFRP exam’ on Saturday 24 April went to a new level when RTE’s Joe Duffy took up the case on his ‘Talk to Joe’ radio show. Duffy was concerned that many students seemed afraid to initially come forward as they were worried that by doing so they might not be able to become a chartered accountant. “There better not be any blowback for anyone who went public,” he warned. Duffy also pointed out that the latest ‘issue’ was not an unprecedented incident – as put forward in an official statement. The AAFRP exam represents

15% of the final CA Ireland exam, with the other 85% tested in August. However, following huge technical problems CA Ireland decided to scrap the whole AAFRP exam, and has said the August exam will now represent 100% of

the final test. No resit was available. More than 1,000 students were affected by problems with the server and the copy and paste functions, and many who finished told Duffy they wanted to know why their paper was not being marked. This isn’t a one-off, as students revealed there were glitches throughout 2020. “There were numerous issues last year,” explained a student to Duffy. Another PQ’s mother called in and wanted to know why CA Ireland were not being held accountable for the problems. To listen to whole ‘Talk to Joe’ show at https://tinyurl. com/694wv4me

Winners unveiled at live awards night The PQ magazine awards were recently beamed live online from Shoreditch, in London town. Some 21 trophies were awarded on the night, and every one meant a tree would be planted! Sponsor CIPFA promised to plant one for each winner. Our ‘PQ of the Year’ went to AAT student Simon Cordell and ‘NQ of the Year’ went to CIMA-qualified Laura DayHenderson. On a night of many firsts, the first-ever ’Accountancy Graduate of the Year’ was Lincoln University’s Emma Mellor. The Lincoln Student Management Investment Fund (LSMIF) also won ‘Student Body of the Year’. Another worthy winner was Mindful Education’s AAT Level 3 diploma course, which took home the ‘Study Resource of the Year’ (Mindful’s Raj Kumaran pictured right). Check out pages 16 and 17 for more winners and some great pictures.

ACCA June centre-exam cancellations Pakistan was finally been added to the list of ACCA June centre-based exam cancellations on 7 May, bring the new total to 64 countries. Many students had contacted PQ magazine to ask why Pakistan wasn’t on the list – unfortunately, now it is! Students in Pakistan need

to note that only those who had existing centre entry will be offered the opportunity to enter remote exams. Earlier, on 4 May, ACCA added Nepal and St Vincent to the exam centre-based cancellation list. Kiev also joined Prague on

sitting, from PM to AAA, go to page 33.

Space’ scheme. Under the rules people will be given protection from their creditors for 60 days. Most interest and penalty charges will be frozen and all enforcement action halted. On top of this, those in debt will receive professional advice to help design a plan to get their finances back on track. The UK government hopes some 700,000 people will benefit from the scheme in the first year.

the list of centres with reduced capacity, which means “some students have had their exams cancelled”. Other countries such as India, Myanmar, Turkey and USA made the cancellation list much earlier Read the full list and updated stories on cancellations as they happen at www.pqmagazine.com.

In brief Pap Top tips for ACCA June exams Producing lots of unnecessary calculations for the sake of it will only waste your time in ACCA’s SBL exam this June, explain experts at BPP. It is also important to remember that, unlike other exams that you may have sat in the past, questions in the SBL exam will not ask you to simply regurgitate your knowledge of a particular topics or theoretical model. For five pages of top tips for the June 4

Pap New debt breathing space People struggling with debt problems have been given protection with a new ‘Breathing

Pap Covid-19 hasn’t happened! The CIMA case studies for

May and August 2021 have a new Covid-19 statement on them, explaining the pre-seen and case study in general, while aiming to reflect real life, are set in a context where the pandemic has not had an impact. This has led to at least one top tutor telling PQ magazine (see letters, page 14) that CIMA needs to think again. “The pandemic is the new reality and this should be reflected in the case studies,” she said. • For more on the CIMA case study, check out page 28. PQ Magazine June 2021

New careers Student removed open for Gen Z from ACCA register A new ground-breaking report into Generation Z from ACCA and IFAC outlines five exciting ‘career zones’ for accountants in the future. As careers become more diverse, the report says that “working lives will be ‘re-imagined’ as technology blurs the work divide between human and machines”. So, what are these five zones? They are the assurance advocate; data navigator; business transformer; digital playmaker; and sustainability trailblazer. The report found that Gen Z see accountancy as a gateway to a good career with a positive image. Long-term career prospects and the opportunity to acquire a professional qualification are the top attractions. Perhaps not surprisingly, financial reward is high on Gen Z’s priority list, with 39% identifying high levels of

ACCA student Miss Gao Qiqi has been found guilty by ACCA’s disciplinary committee of trying to sell ACCA F2 exam questions on an online market website. The British Council raised concerns about the integrity of ACCA’s exams after it found F2 CBE questions offered for sale on Taobao, a China-based consumerto-consumer marketplace. Although the student’s details

renumeration as a key attraction factor. Some 81% say their peer group value higher pay and a prestigious job title. So, what keeps Gen Z awake at night? Top of the list (58%) was the lack of job opportunities and job security. Next up was personal wellbeing and mental health, with 51% citing this as a worry. For more turn to page 19, or you can read the full report at https://tinyurl.com/448v785m

"The tuition videos, for me, are far more beneficial than a text book"

CONTACT SUNIL TODAY PQ Magazine June 2021 PQ_JUN21_FME HP.indd 1

ICAEW exam software ICAEW launched its new Professional and Advanced Level exam software in March 2021. The new software, which students have helped design, refine and trial, introduces a range of features and functionality that enable students to demonstrate their professional skills. It includes access to a

"He brings industry knowledge to his teaching and use real life examples when solving exam questions."

"He knows how to motivate you and make you believe in yourself!"

were not on the screen capture the ACCA were able to identify her. They knew the images came from a centre at Bjunzh ZBG, and that only one student sat that exam on the day in question. Interestingly, Gao passed the exam, with 53%. Following a hearing Gao was been found guilty, removed from the student register, and an order for cost of £5,000 were made.

digital bookshelf, integration with data analytics software, as well as word processing and spreadsheet software reflecting program students will already be familiar with. To find out more and to hear from students who tested the software go to https://tinyurl.com/ txvca4bb

"Extraordinary access to his WhatsApp support group"

"Sunil’s online platform is incomparable."

Sunil Bhandari: ACCA AFM & FM Online Tutor sunil@sunilbhandari.com| +44 7593 644380 5 04/05/2021 08:45

ROBERT BRUCE It’s not just audits that demand a sceptical approach For years the call has been the same in the audit and corporate governance field: people need to bring more scepticism to their work. Audit firms run extensive internal courses to encourage scepticism at the heart of their auditing. But the idea never seems to have been nailed down in the right audit. It is interesting that in the US President Biden has announced his intention to reverse the trend of running down the tax authorities’ staff numbers and ability to investigate. A veteran of the US tax world cheered the move and called it ‘transformative’. ‘Information reporting, coupled with restoring enforcement efforts, is key to improve compliance’, he is reported as saying. ‘Audits alone will never do the trick’. Spot on. But there is also a need to stand back from the information and think. The astonishing scandal of the hundreds of UK subpostmasters wrongfully convicted of everything from theft to false accounting is an example on our doorsteps. The Post Office, which one would have thought to be benign, launched private prosecutions. At no point did scepticism come into it. Instead, the algorithms and the computer systems were assumed perfect and the employees dishonest. A moment’s thought and some conversations would have sparked doubts. It is not just auditors who err on the scepticism test. Robert Bruce is an award-winning writer on accountancy for The Times

The latest CIMA pass rates are in CIMA has released the latest batch of pass rates. Among the good news stories is the jump to 60% for the February Operational Case Study. This pass rate is well above the last three sittings – 53%, 47% and 57% respectively. Meanwhile, the Management Case Study pass rate was a healthy 71%, and the Strategic pass rate for February 2021 came in at 67%. When it comes to the OTs it

is the P papers that still seem to be the ones that present the hardest hurdle. Between May 2020 until the end of April 2021 some 52% of sitters passed the P2 paper, 53% P3 and 54% P1. By contrast the pass rates for


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Balancing the scorecard Top tutor Geoff Cordwell recently explained that in ACCA’s APM exam PQs need to be able to apply a performance management model to any scenario. So, having endured an England vs Poland World Cup qualifying game, he asked how England did using the Balanced Scorecard? He explained: “The financial perspective is a proxy for current performance and, well, England won 2-1 (sorry those from

the E1, E2 and E3 papers were 79%, 90% and 74%. Total CIMA OT exams passed between May 2020 until end of April 2021: E1 79%; E2 90%; E3 74%; F1 79%; F2 60%; F3 57%; P1 54%; P2 52%; P3 53%.

Poland). The internal business process perspective is a proxy for efficiency and England were certainly efficient. They kept the ball a lot conceding possession only rarely, but that possession seemed to be mainly across the back four and that didn’t help create chances to score.

Back to Basics for assets

“To be honest it was all a bit dull too, lacking ambition even. Innovation was the core of the problem. Invention and creative play was sadly lacking, and whilst England are effective qualifiers it is this lack of creativity that causes them to drop the ball in the finals that they often reach. “Customer satisfaction was only average, everyone likes to win, but being fussy I like my wins served with a bit more panache. Practice applying your performance models in your real world it will really help you in the APM exam.”

Accountancy can be simple if you know the basics. And PQ magazine’s Back to Basics free video series is here to help you master the fundamental topics of accountancy. Remember, if you don’t master the basic subjects they can come back to haunt you! This month FME Learn Online’s

Tom Clendon takes you through assets. He explains what helps define an asset – he says it is about ‘control’, and this word helps you understand when a resource becomes an asset. Read his accompanying article on page 23 of this issue, and to see the video go to: https://vimeo.com/545939340.

We also have Back to Basic videos on: Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) https://vimeo. com/536755049. The Trail Balance https:// vimeo.com/500074449. Double Entry Bookkeeping https://vimeo.com/429252329 The Strategic Planning Process https://vimeo.com/437139421 Financial Maths (for ACCA AFM sitters) https://vimeo. com/446780185 • Check out all the free resources, including our test bank, at www.pqmagazine.com.

the trial balance, the basics of the P&L, and more. Ideal for Level 2 AAT students in particular, it is full of explanations and tasks to complete throughout the book. See: https://www.amazon.co.uk/ dp/B09463Q5T1.

nearly half of prospective students thought the UK was becoming a more attractive destination because of its vaccination distribution. This beats competitors such as the US, Canada and Germany. The introduction of the vaccine has made one in five prospective international students bring forward their plans to study abroad. UK universities will also be pleased to hear that 58% of all prospective students thought the UK was becoming more welcoming to students.

Pap Gen Z go for crypto over shares Too many Gen Z investors are more likely opt for high-risk cryptocurrencies over shares, according to new research. Charles Schwab UK, the stockbroker, has estimated that 51% of 18–37-yearolds hold cryptocurrencies. Nationwide also found that young people (16-24) with over £1,000 of savings were more likely to own cryptocurrencies – 28%, compared with 22% in the wider population.

In brief Pap New workbook for AATs Top AAT tutor Teresa Clarke has published ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Bookkeeping and Accounting Workbook’, which is available as an eBook for £1.89. It is free with Kindle Unlimited or for sale as a paperback for £3.49. Clarke explains the workbook is aimed at students who are new to their studies, and the contents include the cashbook, invoices and credit notes, recording transactions, double entry bookkeeping, ledger accounting, 6

Pap Jabs attract overseas students The success of the vaccination programme could help attract overseas students to the UK, a new survey says. Research from Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) found

PQ Magazine June 2021

PQ news

PREM SIKKA The scourge of reverse factoring

The Kingman Review called for replacement of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) by the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA). One reason was the closeness of the FRC to big accounting firms, which it supervises, and big corporations. Its lack of independence damaged its credibility. The process of transformation is under way, but the old habits don’t easily disappear. The FRC has established the UK Accounting Standards Endorsement Board. Its main task is to endorse and adopt new or amended IFRS issued by the International Accounting Standards Board. The Endorsement Board has individuals linked with PwC, KPMG and Grant Thornton. They are no strangers to accounting scandals. The FRC has also appointed 19 individuals to a new Advisory Panel, which will advise it and ARGA on aspects of regulatory matters. Fourteen of the appointees at some stage of their career had links with the Big 4 accounting firms. No doubt, it is impressed upon these individuals that they must serve the broader public interest, but their understanding of what constitutes public interest is inevitably shaped by their business interests and the company they keep, rather than what is good for the masses. Good policymaking requires diversity of views, but they will be absent from deliberations of the FRC and the ARGA. This is not an auspicious start. Prem Sikka is Emeritus Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex

KPMG partners elect Jon Holt as new CEO

KPMG partners have elected Jon Holt with “overwhelming support” as the firm’s new chief executive. He starts immediately and will serve until the end of September 2025. Holt takes over from chairman Bill Murphy, who resigned after he became the centre of a media storm for telling staff in a Zoom meeting to “stop moaning”. Since Murphy’s departure his role has been split, creating a chairman and

chief executive. Since joining the firm in 1994 as a trainee in the Leeds office, Holt has led several of KPMG’s largest business units, and most recently held the role of Head of Audit, overseeing 7,000 people. Not a lot of people know this, but he met his future wife Lynn on his first day at the Big 4 firm. He studied history at the University of Nottingham before joining the firm, and is apparently a die-hard Harrogate Town fan. Holt said: “Now is the time to challenge ways of working and use what we’ve learnt during the pandemic to really drive positive action. This is the moment for leaders to adapt their operations, reduce their environmental footprint and recruit diverse talent right across the UK. I am passionate about driving this change. There must be no limit in business to where talent, achievement and hard work can take you, whoever you are and whatever your background.”

Festival time

JOB OF THE MONTH PQ Management Accountant A successful business in Blackburn is looking to recruit an ambitious management accountant following an extended period of growth. Reporting directly to the CFO, this person will take responsibility for the following: • Production of management accounts for various entities within the group. • Budgeting and forecasting for companies within the group. • Oversee and supervise junior finance/accounting staff. • Monthly reporting including variance analysis. • VAT returns and other HMRC communications. • Financial modelling and investment analysis. • Ad hoc project and assisting in other areas of the finance function.

First Intuition’s AATitude Festival is back. The award-winning festival will be running from Monday 24 May to Friday 28 May. The sessions are all free and open to anyone studying AAT, or any other accountancy qualification for that matter. The headlines for the festival are: Monday 24 May – Financial Accounting Day. Tuesday 25 May – Management Accounting Day. Wednesday 26 May – Communication and Technology.

Thursday 27 May – Study Tips and Synoptics. Friday 28 May – Looking to the Future. To find out more and to book your place go to https://tinyurl.com/ ckkc989s

changes introduce a new points system from next year, in effect allowing greater leeway on taxpayers before fixed penalties come into play. Late filers will have penalty points imposed but no automatic fine. However, there is a £200 fine for those who accumulate a certain number of points. Companies that submit quarterly accounts will be fined when they have four points. Those who submit monthly have one more point – a five-point threshold.

Pap HMRC admits to software problems HMRC has admitted to ‘software problems’ after it sent over 18,496 fines to the wrong addresses on 23 March. Investigations are now taking place into how its computer system sent out payment demands meant for those who had missed their self-assessment deadline to the wrong accountancy firms. Some firms revealed that they even found several letters to

Ideally, candidates will be able to demonstrate previous managerial experience and strong financial reporting skills. The role will offer substantial development and progression, ideally to FC within the next two years. Applications close on 24 May. For more go to https:// tinyurl.com/454txb87

TaxZDWFK Pap Points mean fines Parliament has voted to overhaul HMRC’s regime of fixed penalties and surcharges for late filing and payment. Companies and individuals who miss the filing deadline have to pay a £100 penalty under the present system. That starts after one day and regardless of any previous submission record. Charges then go up by £10 a day after three months to a maximum of £900 for individuals and by a percentage of tax debt for companies. The 8

different people in the same envelope. The worry is that the demands contained unique taxpayer reference numbers and 10-digit codes. RSM’s George Bull said: “This is an absolutely astonishing blunder. HMRC makes much of relying on self-employed workers getting their tax bills right, but appears incapable of managing its own data.” Figures show some 1.1 million taxpayers missed the 2019-20 deadline. That’s up from 731,186 for 2018-19. PQ Magazine June 2021

news PQ

Better communication needed The International Accounting Standards Board is looking to develop a new approach to disclosure requirements in IFRS standards. It is also looking for comments on new disclosure requirements for the standards on fair value measurement and employee benefits. These proposals would, says the IASB, enable companies to enhance their judgement and reduce ‘boilerplate’ information, giving investors more useful information. It explained that the notes in financial statements sometimes include too little relevant information, too much irrelevant information and information disclosed ineffectively. Stakeholders say this typically occurs when the requirements in IFRS standards are treated like a checklist, without applying effective judgement. The IASB’s Hans Hoogervorst, said: “We believe this new approach to developing disclosure requirements in IFRS standards can serve as a catalyst to improving information to investors.”

PQ Magazine June 2021

March ICAEW exam results The pass rates are in for the 3,377 ICAEW PQs who took the March Professional exams. Some 2,596 students passed all the exams they took. The best-pass-rate prize goes to Business Strategy & Technology. The 907 sitters here managed a 94.7% pass rate. Meanwhile, those sitting the Audit & Assurance exam had a pass rate of 89.2%. But, the stand-out pass rate this time around was FAR (UK GAAP) – with a 14.3% pass rate. However, just seven PQ sat this paper, compared with over 700 in all the other papers. Hazel Garvey, ICAEW Managing Director for Education and Training,

said: “These exams took place while a testament to students’ commitment the UK, and some other locations, and adaptability to new ways of were in lockdown and as a result working over the past 12 months, were the biggest-ever sitting of exams which will stand them in good stead by remote invigilation. The results are for the rest of their careers.” ICAEW PROFESSIONAL MARCH PASS RATES

Going for a younger look

with little understanding of how technology will work in the future, and who are over-anxiously trying to ‘tick the right boxes’ on diversity. Norman said what boardrooms need is younger people who are more in tune with how customers live and think. He explained in an MBS report into the future of boards: “For all the improvements in boards and

Marks & Spencer chairman Archie Norman has criticised UK boardrooms for being “made up of old people”. The 67-year-old believes many boards are filled with people

MARCH 2021

MARCH 2020

Audit & Assurance



Financial Accounting & Reporting (IFRS)



Financial Accounting & Reporting (UK GAAP)



Tax Compliance





Business Strategy & Technology



Financial Management



Business Planning: Taxation

the way they work over the years, there is one startling fact, which is that they remain made up of old people. With the best will in the world, many veterans of great distinction struggle to keep pace with new digital technology.” In June 2021, M&S appointed Sapna Sood, 47, onto its board. The average age of its board is now 56.2 years.


PQ news

ANNA KATE PHELAN How to cope with remote exams

The Covid-19 lockdown brought about unprecedented times in many sectors. Assessment was no different; as test centres closed, awarding organisations needed to secure a new way of assessing their candidates and professions continued to need a steady stream of newly qualified employees. By now, many of you will have experienced, remote invigilated exams. This allows an awarding body to monitor a candidate via screenshare, webcam, and mobile camera during their exam, to prevent cheating and ensure a level playing field among each cohort. If you have remote invigilated exams coming up I have some recommendations based on my experience of facilitating exams on behalf of awarding bodies: • Ensure you thoroughly read your exam instructions well ahead of time. What materials (textbook, blank paper, calculator, etc.) are permissible? What is the procedure for comfort breaks? Make sure you send queries to the awarding organisation well ahead of time. • Ensure you check your computer equipment beforehand, making sure your operating system is up to date and taking any practice tests available to you to familiarize yourself with the system. On the day, make sure you are in a well-lit room where you will not be disturbed. • Ask people in your household to take it easy on online gaming or Netflix, to ensure you have the best internet quality possible. Finally, good luck with your exam! Anna Kate Phelan is Senior Product Manager at Eintech

Student mental wellbeing a top risk for universities Students’ mental wellbeing is one of the top risks facing higher education institutions, according to new research by PwC. The Big 4 firm reviewed the risk registers of 22 universities and colleges in the UK, and mental wellbeing is ranked the fourth greatest risk in terms of impact and likelihood, behind cyber security, Covid-19 and the student experience. PwC’s ‘Managing Risk in Higher Education’ report found mental wellbeing of students occurs on 50% of university risk registers. As students adapt to new ways of living

to students and staff as a result of the effects of the pandemic is Birmingham-based Aston University. It is working with PwC to deliver mental health training to staff and students to help normalise the access to mental health support among peer groups. Through two-hour workshops, staff in frontline roles – including fees teams, personal tutors and student union representatives – are receiving training to increase mental health literacy to help them support students and colleagues with mental wellbeing. This group-based training is centred on increasing awareness of mental health issues, removing barriers and increasing confidence to ask for help.

Recording PER under Covid-19 ACCA is reminding PQs that if they are working remotely they can still work towards their PER. But the work must still be overseen and checked – only then can it still count towards your PER. If you have been diverted to other non-finance tasks you can adjust the percentage relevance of the role during this period to reflect your current work situation. If students are furloughed then they will not be ‘working’, and therefore not gaining PER. ACCA said you should record this period of time in your PER record by end-dating your role from the date your furlough began and starting a new role from the date you return to work. • Read the full story at www.pqmagazine.com

EU ‘needs London’ The European Union will need to agree a post-Brexit deal on financial services because it “needs London”, says PwC’s John Garvey. Although a deal is some way off, Garvey believes that there will be some kind of agreement because the bloc will want to access the London market. Garvey predicted: “There’s going to be a strange relationship developing over time where the Europeans realise they need London.” He was reacting to comments from Mairead McGuiness, the EU’s commissioner for financial services, who recently said that it is not under any pressure to help the City firms access its market. 10

and studying, including remote and blended learning, and potential periods of self-isolation, pressure on their mental health and wellbeing is a growing concern. To address the mental health risks, universities are developing and strengthening links between support service teams and student-facing staff in faculties and departments, supplemented by the provision of training and resources for staff to better enable them to appropriately signpost, refer or support students. One university providing additional mental health support

Young investors get risk warning A new younger, more diverse group of consumers are getting involved in higher risk investments, expedited by the accessibility of investment apps. Research by the Financial Conduct Authority found that for many of these new investors the key reasons behind their decisions to invest were “emotions and feelings”, such as enjoying the thrill of investing, and social factors like the status that comes from a sense

Who wants to WFH forever? Nearly one in four workers want to work from home ‘forever’, according to a new Deloitte survey. That adds up to 7.5 million employees who would be happy never to see the office again. At the same time, slightly more (28%) are desperate to get back on the commuter trail back into the office. Deloitte believes that this shows a real split in attitudes, although a hefty 42% in the survey felt that a combination, with two days working from home, was the better option. Interestingly, most under35s found working from home more challenging. Deloitte’s Will Gosling explained: “Those coming into the workforce in their early careers are sponges. They can learn technical stuff anywhere, but what gives them the edge and what makes

of ownership of the companies they invest in. This is particularly true for those investing in high-risk products, for whom the challenge, competition and novelty are more important than conventional, more functional reasons for investing, like wanting to make their money work harder or save for their retirement. Some 38% of those surveyed did not list a single functional reason for investing in their top three.

work interesting and exciting is the stuff you cannot learn in a textbook or an online course.” Here’s a day off to start… KPMG is giving all its staff in the UK a day off on 21 June to enable them to reconnect with family and friends. It is also giving them a couple of extra hours off every week over the summer to support their wellbeing, so they can finish early or start their day later. KPMG CEO Jonathan Holt said: “One of the things I’ve learnt in this pandemic is it’s not about where you work, but how you work” As part of the strategy, KPMG is investing £44 million in redesigning its offices, to fit in with the changing needs of business and clients, and to use the space and technology in a more innovative way. PQ Magazine June 2021

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tech news

MIKE DAY Why going solo is the way forward for many

The way we choose to work has been changing for a long time, but Covid-19 has accelerated this shift. The pandemic has changed many people’s priorities and encouraged them to take the leap into something new. We already have a flourishing three-million-strong sole trader community in the UK. With many choosing a career path as a ‘solopreneur’ due to the financial and creative independence it offers, the number of sole traders is likely to keep growing. Our research among UK sole traders found that 70% enjoy being small, with 62% saying the benefits and freedom far outweigh those of being a larger business. So what is the appeal of going solo? We found the top motivators for becoming a sole trader include being your own boss (54%), having a career that suits your lifestyle (40%) and being able to create something of your own (31%). Top benefits include flexible working (63%), independence (49%), job satisfaction (29%), and creative freedom (25%). Despite often wanting to stay small, the sector faces growing challenges. Only 8% of sole traders feel they’ve been fully supported by the government during the pandemic, while 57% said that support has been more focused towards SMEs and larger businesses, leaving them behind. Certainly if you have aspirations to becoming a solopreneur then financial acumen is right up there in required skills; yet another reason why PQ is a great path! Mike Day, Director, UK Education Sector, Xero

Creating a digital currency The creation of a UK central bank digital currency (CBDC) is being explored by a new government taskforce. A CBDC would be a new form of digital money issued by the Bank of England, for use by both businesses and households. It would exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them. The UK government and Bank of England have not yet made a decision on whether to introduce a CBDC in the UK, and this taskforce will take an in-depth look at the

risks and practicalities. The aim is to ensure a strategic approach, and to this end the taskforce said it will: • Coordinate exploration of the objectives, use cases, opportunities and risks of a potential UK CBDC. • Guide evaluation of the design features a CBDC must display to achieve its goals. • Support a rigorous, coherent and comprehensive assessment of the overall case for a UK CBDC. • Monitor international CBDC

Profits on the up and up Profits at America’s biggest technology companies continues to surge, as they capitalise on growing internet dependency during the lockdown. The latest quarterly results from

Amazon shows profits more than tripled, as housebound consumers continue to shop online, companies forked out more on digital advertising, and its cloud computing division continued to grow. Net sales in the

developments to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of global innovation. The Taskforce will be co-chaired by the Bank of England’s Jon Cunliffe and HM Treasury’s Katharine Braddick. first quarter of 2021 jumped to $108.5 billion, up some 44%. This boosted net income to $8.1 million. Amazon, which now has 1.27 million employees worldwide, is predicting sales will continue to grow – between 24 and 30% in the second quarter. At Microsoft, profits rose 44% to $15.5 billion and more than doubled at Google’s parent company, Alphabet – jumping by 162% to $17.9 billion. Microsoft’s gaming division, which recently refreshed its Xbox consoles, grew by 40%. Meanwhile, the Office 365 software suite for businesses grew by 21%.

Turkish cryptocurrency companies collapse Turkish investors, maybe in their hundreds of thousands, are at risk of losing their savings after two of the country’s biggest cryptocurrency firms collapsed following fraud allegations. The authorities have arrested four people linked to the trading platform Vebitcoin, following the announcement that the company had ceased operation because of “financial strains”. A week before, Thodex Exchange was also shut

down. International warrants have now been issued for its 27-yearold CEO Frank Fatih Ozer. Some $2 billion is alleged to have gone missing, but Ozer says that Thodex has been the victim of cyberattacks and that he has done nothing wrong. The Turkish Central Bank has warned that cryptocurrencies “entail significant risks”, adding that digital wallets are vulnerable to theft.

7HFK briefs Pap IBM chip breakthrough IBM has said that it has made a ‘significant breakthrough’ in computer processors, with the creation of a 2nm chip. Although this has only been possible in its test lab the 2nm chip improves performance by nearly 50% over the commercially available 7nm chip. Using 75% less energy to match current performance, the new chip is also more energy efficient. This all means that mobile phone battery life could quadruple, and might only need 12

charging every four days. Pap M&S Bank to close accounts Marks & Spencer has announced it is shutting down customer current accounts this summer, and is closing its 29 in-store branches. M&S Bank has not been able to compete with the move to online banking, particularly with the pandemic. The business will now focus on its credit card and store rewards. The travel money desks have

not been affected. Ultimately, the big supermarket banks have struggled to compete with the entrenched lenders. Sainsbury’s, for instance, put its banking venture up for sale last year. Pap Throw away your old router Outdated routers are putting millions of people at risk from the hackers, claims a new Which? investigation. It sent a selection of the most commonly used old devices to security specialists Red Maple Technologies, to find out

just how secure they are. They discovered issues with more than half, from ISPs such as Virgin, Sky, TalkTalk, EE and Vodaphone. This could potentially affect up to 7.5 million Brits. The main issues were weak default passwords, local network vulnerabilities and a lack of updates. The routers tested weren’t all bad, though, said Which?. Old devices from BT and Plusnet that had been recently updated did not have vulnerabilities or weak default passwords. PQ Magazine June 2021

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What audit reform?

When it comes to reform of the audit regime I have to agree strongly with Lord Sikka (see PQ magazine, May 2021, page 24). We have had three major reports all advocating massive change, yet we seem to still allow the Big 4 to capture and push the agenda. Separating the audit firms from the consulting businesses is a must, to ensure total independence – but that does not seem to be happening. Sir Jon Thompson, who will be heading up the new oversight body, told ICAEW CEO Michael Izza that a market-driven response could still get the profession to where it needs to go. Really? It looks like Sir Donald Brydon’s

key vision of the creation of independent audit firms is going to be watered down before it has even begun. What would really shake-up the market would be to allow

the technology companies to create new companies that can offer an audit service. They surely can’t do a worse job. I do disagree with Prem on one issue though. A separate audit body would surely be a big step in the right direction – finally splitting up accountancy bodies and the audit profession. A separate audit qualification would also help achieve this, not a few papers in the current qualifications. Ironically, such a move might help increase ACCA pass rates. No one seems to be able to pass the AAA exam – well twothirds of PQs seem to fail it at every sitting. Name and address supplied

Our star letter writer wins a fantastic ‘I love PQ’ mug! Box of delights

On Friday my wife Hilary summoned me from my eyrie at the top of the house with the news that a mysterious box had arrived. It was viewed with some suspicion. It was obviously not the usual book or books. It rattled. And it turned out to be your glorious compendium of random party requirements for Thursday evening. An inspired thought. We salute you. Cheers, Robert Bruce, by email The Editor says: Glad you liked it Robert! We’ve more on this year’s PQ awards on page 16. And you can catch Robert’s regular column for this magazine on page 6.

Covid is new reality

CIMA has done a fantastic job of keeping its students on track. But it’s made a mistake with the May/ August pre-seen, which is says is “set in a context where the Covid19 pandemic has not had an

impact”. Surely the pandemic is the new reality and it should embrace this. CIMA has a big opportunity to reflect what is really happening rather than creating a case study that exists in its own bubble. Name and address supplied

#PQAwards went into overdrive this month on Twitter, as the PQ magazine 2021 awards went live online for the first time. One of the big stars on the night was FME’s Mark Ingram, who beamed in all the way from Australia to reveal the shortlist and winner of ‘PQ of the Year’. He even had a beer waiting to toast Simon Cordell, our winner.

You can check out his performance at https://tinyurl. com/26bv9tb6 The award goodie boxes sent out to the nominees were also a big hit on social media. They included a water bottle, phone charger, notebook, fun glasses, party poppers and blowers, a programme and even popcorn! To discover who walked off with a coveted PQ trophy and see some great pictures from the night go to page 16. We will have more next month! PQ magazine has also tried to keep all ACCA June sitters up-todate as the centre-based exam cancellations came in, via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. More than 60 countries are now on the list. Our only criticism of the ACCA is that they don’t highlight which countries have been added when updates happen. That said, the Covid-19 page has been a vital link to understand what is happening on a daily basis. There were lots of tweets too as the CIMA pre-seens hit the streets. We loved the Strategic case study sitter who admitted they couldn’t stop going into pirate mode when talking about ‘Arrfield’ The case has nothing in it about pirates, it’s all about airports and air travel!

PQ Magazine PO Box 75983, London E11 9GS | Phone: 07765 386489 | Email: graham@pqmagazine.com Website: www.pqmagazine.com | Editor/publisher: Graham Hambly graham@pqmagazine.com | Associate editor: Adam Riches | Art editor: Tim Parker Contributors: Robert Bruce, Prem Sikka, Lisa Nelson, Anna Kate Phelan, Mike Day, Tony Kelly, Phil Gammon, Edward Netherton | Subscriptions: subscriptions@pqmagazine.com | Origination services by Classified Central Media If you have any problems with delivery, or if you want to change your delivery address, please email admin@pqmagazine.com

Published by PQ Publishing Ltd © PQ Publishing 2021


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PQ PQ awards 2021

#PQAwards 2021

– the winners

It was live from London’s Shoreditch this year, so who won those coveted PQ magazine trophies at the 2021 awards? he first-ever online PQ magazine awards took place on 29 April. Streamed live from Rogo’s HQ in trendy Shoreditch, this was our 18th annual awards night. Over 160 boxes had been sent out for the nominees, filled with great goodies from the sponsors. CIPFA even promised to plant a tree for each winner – so that’s 21 trees! Nigh on 900 people joined us during the evening, and some 1,500 people have now viewed the YouTube video. If you missed it go to https://tinyurl.com/26bv9tb6 So, who walked off with a shiny PQ? Before the ceremony the audience was entertained


by a madcap game of ‘Play Your Cards Right’, where Polly Thrasivoulou from ICB went headto-head with ICAEW’s Shaun Robertson. The ICAEW may have won the game two-nil, but ICB finished the evening with even more to cheer, as it won trophies for both ‘Accountancy Body of the Year’ and ‘Innovation of the Year’ for ICB TV. The University of West London won ‘Public Sector College of the Year’, and Kaplan took the private sector crown. It was a night of recognition for the NHS, too. The finance team at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust won

‘Accountancy Team of the Year’, and Andy Hardy, CIPFA president and CEO of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, walked off with the ‘Personality of the Year’. CIMA had a good night as well. Jason Nye won ‘Best Use of Social Media’, while a CIMA apprentice with Rolls-Royce, Haider Ali, won ‘Apprentice of the Year’. ‘NQ of the Year’ went to CIMA-qualified Laura Day-Henderson. The editor’s special awards went to CIPFA CETC, First Intuition’s AATitude Festival, and Dr Philip Dunn. Our new ‘PQ of the Year’ is Simon Cordell, who trains with Training Link, and Demel Johnson, who studies with Premier Training, won ‘Distance Learning Student of the Year’.



PQ Magazine June 2021

PQ awards 2021 PQ

The 2021 winners in full are: • STUDENT BODY OF THE YEAR: The Lincoln Student Management Investment Fund, University of Lincoln • ACCOUNANCY BODY OF THE YEAR: Institute of Certified Bookkeepers • PUBLIC SECTOR ACCOUNTANCY COLLEGE OF THE YEAR: The Claude Littner Business School, University of West London • PRIVATE SECTOR ACCOUNTANCY COLLEGE OF THE YEAR: Kaplan • ONLINE ACCOUNTANCY COLLEGE OF THE YEAR: Osborne Training • PUBLIC SECTOR ACCOUNTANCY LECTURER OF THE YEAR: Rebecca Wright, University of South Wales • PRIVATE SECTOR ACCOUNTANCY LECTURER OF THE YEAR: Regwana Uddin, LSBF • STUDY RESOURCE OF THE YEAR: AAT Level 3 Advanced Diploma course, Mindful Education • INNOVATION IN ACCOUNTANCY: ICB TV • BEST USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA: Jason Nye, CIMA • MENTOR/TRAINING MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Tim Jones • ACCOUNTANCY TEAM OF THE YEAR: The Finance Department, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust • ACCOUNTANCY PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR: Andy Hardy • EDITOR’S SPECIAL AWARDS: AATitude Accountancy Festival, First Intuition; CIPFA’s CETC; and, Dr Philip Dunn • ACCOUNTANCY GRADUATE OF THE YEAR: Emma Mellor • ACCOUNTANCY APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR: Haider Ali • NQ OF THE YEAR: Laura Day-Henderson • DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENT OF THE YEAR: Demel Johnson • PQ OF THE YEAR: Simon Cordell

PQ Magazine June 2021


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gen z PQ some have concerns over the impact of digital on their own job opportunities. • The data suggests there are more opportunities for the profession to communicate the attractiveness of accountancy better and how accountants can make a real difference to wider societal issues, such as climate change.

The future is here Young people in the accountancy profession have spoken, writes Jamie Lyon, and businesses would do well to take heed of Generation Z’s advice e often hear the phrase ‘wisdom comes with age’, but I find myself learning a lot from younger people on a daily basis – whether it’s helping with technology or merely offering a different perspective. Essentially, we can all learn from each other. The cohorts succeeding the Millennials are now entering the workforce against the backdrop of an extraordinary 2020 and start to 2021. And ACCA and IFAC’s (the International Federation of Accountants) latest report – called ‘Groundbreakers: Gen Z and the future of accountancy’ – sees the views expressed of 9,000 18-25 year old aspiring accountants and finds some humbling opinions. The research reveals that while respondents are broadly convinced businesses have a positive impact on wider society (69%), they also believe there is significant room for improvement from business leaders. They believe businesses continue to prioritise the maximisation of returns to investors (66%) over taking care of customers (53%) and employees (47%). They are also less convinced that business leaders have integrity and do what they say (41%) and fewer of them believe businesses are currently pulling their weight in fight against climate change (39%). Broadly they think accountancy is an attractive career – providing long term prospects and portability with access to jobs that span internationally and across industries – but it is clear this generation questions business’ focus. Other key findings reveal: • Generation Z is entering a disrupted workplace. At the heart of their career aspirations is the economic and social context they have witnessed as they come of age, coupled with an unprecedented last 12 months, and they have concerns around job opportunities and security, wellbeing and mental health.


PQ Magazine June 2021

• Companies that provide opportunities to acquire skills and a good work life balance fare better. Job insecurity may be this generation’s biggest concern, but that does not mean they are intent on accepting any job to play safe. The data suggests they attack these insecurities with quite a different strategy, seeking organisations that can provide them with continuous skills and development. • Businesses also need to harness Gen Z’s ambitious nature. For Generation Z, it is a workplace that is fluid, transitional and where opportunities must be grabbed. Many expect promotion in their next move and a significant proportion are eyeing an external move. It seems they are quite happy to take their talents elsewhere. • This generation raised on digital and social media is comfortable with technology and see the future world of work connected and transformed by it, mostly for good. Yet they are a generation that has been hard hit economically over the last 12 months and as they come of age, they have witnessed technology being adopted at scale and replacing jobs. So despite being digital natives,

How do companies view Gen Z? Employers cite Gen Z as super smart, creative individuals who are natural disruptors in the workplace and who challenge conventional ways of undertaking work activities. They also see their connectedness, their technology skills and understand that Gen Z want their voice to be heard in the workplace. Businesses do value the importance of listening to younger people. As the younger generation gain essential exposure to mentors and individuals with more experience in the workplace, this also affords benefits to leaders personally in terms of learning and looking at business issues from a different perspective Also, employers cite the importance of articulating what the organisation stands for, its purpose, its impact on wider society, and its broader stance on issues such as diversity and inclusivity when attracting Generation Z to the organisation. The report offers businesses ten tips to encourage and harness Gen Z’s potential: 1. Tap into Gen Z’s digital mastery. 2. Think ‘intrapreneurship’. 3. Use social to recruit and recognise the power of peers. 4. Be authentic and listen to Gen Z. 5. Focus on well-being. 6. Align organisation purpose with individual development needs. 7. Create collaboration opportunities across the workforce. 8. Reward on outcomes not inputs. 9. Give continual feedback. 10. Rethink learning: make it short and visual. This age group is smart, connected, ambitious yet realistic. What we see from this research is young people at the outset of their accountancy careers who are keen to play their part in economic renewal. They will bring their talents and aspirations into the workplace and potentially transform the future of accountancy for the modern world. • Jamie Lyon, report author and head of business management, ACCA


It’s what we call

digital first



professional qualifications PQ

Five top tips for graduates Anna Hardy-Watmough has some advice for accounting graduates studying professional accountancy qualifications, pointing out the common pitfalls and how to address them any PQs starting training contracts with professional bodies have studied a relevant degree. According to the ICAEW, in 2018 some 28% of graduates undertaking the ACA qualification previously studied accounting and finance. If you are a relevant graduate embarking on professional study, and have been able to claim some professional paper exemptions, here are some useful tips.

M 1

You didn’t sit the actual professional paper for which you received an exemption This may sound obvious, but you studied an equivalent paper in your degree. Universities work with professional bodies to secure exemptions; this does not mean the University exam is the same as the professional body paper. It may be more theoretical, contain different question styles, and may not cover 100% of the professional body syllabus. You may also have studied the content a number of years ago. Look at sample papers for exams in which you gained an exemption, available on the professional body websites. This will alert you to any knowledge gaps, and give you confidence you would have been able to pass the professional body paper if you had sat it.


Professional qualifications rely solely on exams Within your degree studies, it is likely you had PQ Magazine June 2021

a number of written assignments, rather than relying solely on exams. You may have found that you excelled in assignments, or that you preferred exams. Professional qualifications rely solely on exams, for some of you that may be a relief, whereas for others you may need to concentrate on exam technique, rather than relying on assignments to boost overall module marks.


Timing is a key issue in professional exams A key challenge when sitting professional exams is keeping to exam time. You must be strict with yourself, ensuring that you attempt all questions. Often, students find that time pressure is higher in professional exams than at University, a good strategy to address this is vital. Calculate how much time you have for each section or question, and stick to this. Practice past questions to exam time, as you do not want the first time you work to exam time to be the exam itself. Remember, you will always get the easiest marks first, so if you are struggling within a question, move on, and then return to it if you have time at the end.


Be realistic about your marks At university you may have attained high module marks, and anything less than 60% or 70% was seen as a disappointment. For professional exams, anything above a pass is a bonus! If the pass mark is 50%, it does not matter if you achieve 50% or 80%, you have still passed,

and no one will ask you in future what marks you achieved. You need a strategy to achieve a pass mark as easily and painlessly as possible, so focus on this rather than the mark itself.


You do not know the examiners At university you know who has written your exam. They may be the person teaching you every week, so you may gain an insight into their preferred exam areas and styles of questions. With a professional exam, the identity of the examiner is unknown. Therefore, you need to rely on hints and tips from your chosen tuition provider, and dedicated exam preparation from day one, along with using the past papers that are available to show you the expected style. Examiners can always throw a ‘curveball’ into an exam, so make sure you are well prepared for the typical areas that would be examined each sitting, and then if there is something unexpected, just try your best and move on when time is up.

Overall, the advice for relevant graduates starting professional exams is the same as that for those starting from the beginning; make sure you know the syllabus of the paper you are studying, practice past exam style questions to time without access to study notes, and listen to the advice given by your chosen tuition provider. The pace of exams can feel relentless when you begin a training contract, as you will quickly begin studying your first papers. However, as you are starting your journey at a higher-level paper, be aware of what has come before, and do not assume that you do not need to study as hard as those who have non-relevant prior qualifications. Universities will have prepared you for professional study, alongside developing other skills, and you should be confident in your journey to becoming a qualified accountant. Go to https://careers.icaew.com/find-yourroute/training-as-a-graduate • Anna Hardy-Watmough is the Deputy Head of the Accounting, Finance and Banking department at Manchester Metropolitan University 21

Leading Inclusion The latest professional insights report from ACCA, Leading Inclusion, discusses the important subjects of diversity, inclusion and equity. Ensuring that accountancy is a profession that is open to everyone.


back to basics PQ

Know your assets Tom Clendon keeps in simple with his analysis of assets – stuff that you really ought to know about… love getting back to basics! Keeping it simple and stripping away the layers and complexities that dog financial reporting and making sure that we understand the fundamental terms as used by accountants. So this article – and its accompanying video at https:// vimeo.com/545939340 – will be as useful to those starting out in their studies as it will be to qualified accountants to keep them both up-to-date and grounded.

control. To be included on the statement of financial position an asset has to be controlled. That is why you will not be included in your employer’s statement of financial position – despite the warm words of your boss! After all you are not controlled by the business (you can resign) and the wages paid to you are accounted for as an expense and not the purchase of an asset.


Types of assets Assets are basically good things to have. If you were to consider what assets your employer reports on its statement of financial position it might include cash, motor vehicles and you might even think that you should also be included because your line manager said in your last review that you were “an asset to the business”! More of that later. On the statement of financial position, assets can be listed as non-current or current. Here, the distinction is based on how long the asset will be with the business. Assets like land and buildings will be non-current where they have been acquired for use in the business. Whereas inventory that has been bought for resale will be classified as current assets. Assets can be further classified as tangible (capable of being touched) or intangible (like purchased goodwill) or they can be investments. But what exactly is the definition of an asset?

Formal definition In my lifetime, the technical definition of an asset has changed. It was revised again a couple of years ago when the IASB’s Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting was revised

and is now defined as: “A present economic resource controlled by the entity as a result of past events. An economic resource is a right that has the potential to produce economic benefits.” For me, the key word here is

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time This is the title of a book by Mark Haddon that I would highly recommend, and comes from a reference in the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of Silver Blaze. In both stories, the curious incident was that a dog did not bark. The absence of a bark by the dog was instrumental in solving the crime. In the definition of an asset there is also an absence of a bark so to speak – and that is legal title. Actually, owning an asset is not a prerequisite to including an asset in a statement of financial position. Is a car that is leased an asset? When the business leases a car for three years, then the business does not own the asset. However, it will still recognise the car as an asset because it controls the asset and has a right to use the asset. This treatment was only recently introduced recently by IFRS16 Leases. • Tom Clendon is ACCA SBR online lecturer. See www. tomclendon.co.uk

Sorted, thanks to pqjobs.co.uk

PQ Magazine June 2021


PQ employment law

Status symbols Dr Jereme Snook examines the thorny issue of employment law status. So are you an employee or a worker?

ou might reasonably ask – why does employment law exist in the UK? Firstly, employment law regulates and controls the relationship between businesses and their ‘employees’ and ‘workers’. Secondly, by complying with relevant legislation, employers and their staff ensure that their recruitment systems and dismissal processes, and their workplace, are fair for every individual. Thirdly, employment law combats discrimination, and effectively promotes diversity and equality at work. While these are significant and important reasons for employment law, it is not correct to say that the right to enjoy the same protections under employment law in the UK is available to all at the workplace. Because of the many ways in which people are now employed, or choose to work independently, the distinctions between different classifications of individuals are of considerable significance. We all hope and expect the law to ensure we are treated fairly and equitably by our employer and fellow colleagues at work and in workrelated environments (such as the workplace Christmas party!). The dilemma for legislators in recent times has been described as how to provide fair employment rights, and yet preserve options for employers and individuals to undertake flexible working in an economy that is responding to global pressures and competition. In response to these dilemmas the law remains fluid and sometimes uncertain. The rights we can reasonably expect under employment laws differ according to our own workplace status; i.e. whether we are classified as ‘employee’, ‘worker’ or we see ourselves as self-employed. The classifications that currently exist in UK law are now broadly divided between those with ‘employee’ status and those with ‘worker’ status and those who are self-employed. It is true to say that everyone is a worker, but not everyone is an employee under current UK laws. We now have several lawful ways of employing people. We can employ via a permanent contract with a right to payment, pensions, health and safety and protections against discrimination for all. These rights are enjoyed by ‘employees’ working under a full time and part time and fixed



term contractual arrangement. This ‘employee’ status if agreed in a contract of employment, remains in place until either party terminates it by giving appropriate notice or is dismissed – again with appropriate notice. Employees have rights to a signed and detailed contract reiterating rights in law and those agreed by custom and practice in the organisation or industry. Where a contract is not signed between the parties then a statement of particulars defining the parties, the workplace, the role and rights to NMW payment (at least), holidays, pensions and health and safety as a minimum – must be exchanged between the parties within eight weeks of commencing that employment under S1 ERA 1996 (above). The ‘employee’ status is defined in law under the Employment Rights Act 1996 s. 230 (1): “an employee is an individual who has entered into or works under a contract of employment”. This is an extremely wide definition, thereby allowing the courts to objectively see a relationship of employee and employer, and also to determine the rights of both parties – and crucially, the taxation rules to be applied to each. Employees must be distinguished from the self-employed in law because the taxation status is different; the self-employed or ‘independent contractors’ as they are classified in law, are responsible for paying their own insurance for work-related activity, and also their own taxation/s payments to HMRC. This is not the rule for ‘employees’ whose insurance and tax are paid thorough established employer schemes and responsibilities also established in law. Hence it is crucial for the parties themselves and HMRC to understand the status of each individual working in a full time, part time, fixed term, agency, zero hours contracts (ZHC) and employment in the voluntary sectors. What, then, are the employment rights given to ‘employees’ under S230 (1) of the ERA 1996 (Above) under this section and the UK law? Specifically: • The right not to be subject to unfair dismissal from employment – this requires a continuous period of two years qualifying period in the job/role.

• The right not to be subject to unfair selection for redundancy – this also requires two years qualifying period in the job/role. • To request to work flexibly – note this is a right to request only – entailing discussion between the parties as a starting position. • The right to established schemes for maternity leave, adoption leave or paternity leave – and associated pay as established in UK or under an enhanced employer scheme. • The rights to protection against injury or death through an employer’s insurance scheme. • The right to an employer’s vicarious liability for torts/wrongs committed in the course of employment. • Time off to perform public duties; and those rights established by collective bargaining

PQ Magazine June 2021

employment law PQ

by the recognised workplace trade union (if there is one in place). • All of the rights enjoyed by ‘workers’ (as outlined below). What rights do ‘workers’ enjoy under UK law? These are fewer than employees. Workers have a right to be recognised as such by law and to enjoy some, if not all the same rights as employees. Specifically: • Continuous Rights from day one of service not to be discriminated against and to equal pay through the Equality Act 2010. • Rights not to be discriminated against through membership/non-membership of a trade union. • Maternity, paternity, and adoption pay (but not leave). • The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 – the

right to a NMW as defined by statute (see 2021 levels on www.uk.gov). • Paid holiday leave and rest breaks as defined by the Working Time Regulations 1998. • Statutory sick pay – at the agreed minimum levels in the UK. • The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 – the right to commence whistleblowing actions against employers. • Rights to be automatically enrolled in a pension scheme. • Rights not to be treated less favourably where the individual works part-time. • Protection under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The law maintains the distinctions between ‘employees’ and ‘workers’ as a means of classifying employment rights, but also because

of legislative interventions. Agency workers, covered by English and EU directives, are most likely to be viewed as ‘workers’ as they are employed not by the host company, because the host employer has an agreement with a recruitment organisation which may hire out the worker to that host company under specified arrangements. As we have seen, employees enjoy higher levels of protection under law. Most obviously employees are protected against unfair dismissal and redundancy – these rights are not available to ‘workers’. Recent case law has seen Uber drivers campaigning for rights as ‘workers’ – and not independent, autonomous drivers. They were successful in the highest court in English law – the Supreme Court of Justice in 2021 with a unanimous decision that Uber drivers are indeed ‘workers’ with entitlements to claim the NMW and the right to paid holidays. The Supreme Court ruled that drivers become workers from the moment that they log on and off to the Uber app, and Uber exert a level of control over the drivers meaning, in essence, that the drivers are subject to the directions of Uber. The significance of the ruling is that Uber drivers can now go back to the original Employment Tribunal and seek compensation as workers and not independent ‘partners’ as Uber had suggested was the case originally. The decision has many implications for the business model which exemplifies the gig economy, and it shows that the judges are willing to look objectively at the employment relationship and take themes of “who controls whom?”, and “from where is it probable that the work is directed” as key indicators of ‘worker’ or self-employment status. Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), is calling for workers in the gig economy, such as Uber drivers, to be formally recognised in law and to be ensured improved rights such as sick pay and protection against unfair dismissal – like employee colleagues in other sectors. See https://tinyurl.com/2uvdjxuu for more. So, the law on employee and worker rights is at a crossroads. How will the government now respond to calls for improved rights for individuals at work – be they employees or workers? There is a clarion call for improved workplace rights and access to a level playing field for all to enjoy what the law should and can ensure: respect, dignity and equality for all. • Dr Jereme Snook is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Sheffield Hallam University

Award-winning AAT courses and apprenticeships Flexible learning to suit your lifestyle mindful-education.co.uk/students PQ Magazine June 2021


PQ ACCA Examiner reports

Four become two

Helena Jones reflects on the ACCA’s decision to publish twice-yearly Examiner Reports o paraphrase a well-known quotation: “We seek it here, we seek it there, we seek the March exam report everywhere.” As reported here, the ACCA is now producing Examiner Reports twice a year, to coincide with the publication of the composite exam paper, rather than after each of the four exam sittings per year. There will not therefore be a report available following the March 2021 exams. This decision has not been universally popular, but this is where we are, so let us look at how we can still use this valuable resource both as a study aid and for exam preparation. Focusing on the AAA Examiner’s Report for September/December 2020, here are some highlights from the examining team’s observations, together with some general comments about this exam.


General approach to AAA • AAA knowledge builds on AA and SBR, including the accounting standards examinable in SBR. • Financial reporting standards provide the rules for presenting information in the financial statements, and audit risks may be identified from FR issues. • The AAA syllabus establishes the high level of understanding required at this level, demonstrated by the question verbs used in the exam, for example: analyse; critically assess; apply knowledge; evaluate. • Demonstrating knowledge without relevance or purpose in relation to the specific scenario presented in the question is not sufficient. Two examples are considered where responses can be improved:

Procedures - What is the purpose of this procedure? Ethics How does the threat arise? What is the implication in this specific case? Helpfully, the report contains links to guidance on structuring answers to these areas of weakness identified by the examining team. Guidance is available on the ACCA website for five key topics: • Ethics • Risk • Audit procedures

• Accounting issues • Auditor reporting Make sure you read these carefully; they demonstrate how to apply knowledge and provide examples of strong and weak answers to sample questions. Technical articles are also essential reading. Approaching exam questions Question 1 in section A represents half the marks and has several requirements. There is a lot of information to process here and a number of exhibits to read and analyse, so a structured and planned approach to tackling the question is vital. Questions 2 and 3 in section B can also have more than one requirement and the mark allocation should be used as a guide to time management throughout the exam. Here are some points to consider: • Client details: is it a group/listed/new client/ more than one client? • Stage of the audit; Question 1 is typically set at the planning stage, and one of the section B questions is set at the completion stage. • You are not expected to have detailed knowledge of the specific sector in which the client operates; all the information you need is in the exhibits. • Consider all the exhibits and note which is relevant to each requirement. • Focus on the requirements and do not waste time and effort addressing points beyond the scope of what is being asked. To summarise; obtain a thorough understanding of what you are being asked to do, formulate a plan of action, and get on with it! This is, after all, what you would do at work when asked to produce a well thought-out and relevant piece of work under time pressure, using the information provided and applying your professional knowledge and judgement. That is what being a good accountant is all about. • Helena Jones, Sonar Education. See www. sonareducation.com

PQ PQ Bumper Quiz

All the answers… We have the winners of our annual quiz and the answers! Well done Bansi Tank, Andrew Rodwell and Rachel Spence, who will shortly be receiving a wonderful Nespresso Vertuo Coffee Machine. Coffee will never taste the same again! So what were the answers? Here they are: 1. Edward Colston 2. 78 years old 3. Dilyn 4. Lockdown 5. 85p 26

6. Barnard Castle 7. Marcus Rashford 8. £33 million (£32,975,065) 9. 90 years old 10. Gender reveal party 11. Liverpool’s Jordan

Henderson 12. Robert Lewandowski 13. Australia 14. England 15. Leeds Rhinos 16. Kansas City Chiefs 17. Ronnie O’Sullivan

18. Potters Corner 19. Pete Sampras 20. Chris Kamara 21. Giovanna Fletcher 22. All played Dr Who 23. 1989 (Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire) 24. Gillian Andersen 25. LadBaby’s Don’t Stop Me Eatin’ 26. Geoff Metcalfe 27. The Queen’s Gambit 28. Mrs Hudson 29. Peter Sawkins 30. Michael Kiwanuka 31. Price Waterhouse Coopers

32. Ben Affleck 33. 3 March 2021 34. Luca Pacioli 35. Professor Andreas Barchow 36. The Producers 37. The Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA) 38. Friday 19 March 2021 39. BDO 40. 17 41. Wyoming 42. Winston Churchill 43. 2007 44. Three 45. Richard Rogers 46. Murmansk, Russia 47. George W Bush 48. Mali 49. Bonn 50. Portugal

PQ Magazine June 2021

test bank PQ

Easy as A, B, C…

Philip Dunn tests your knowledge of Activity Based Costing (ABC) Q1: In Activity Based Costing terminology to what does the following definition refer: ‘a value adding process which consumes resources’? Q2: In Activity Based Costing terminology to what does the following definition refer: ‘an activity or factor that generates cost’? Q3: In Activity Based Costing terminology to what does the following definition refer: ‘pooling of overhead cost which relates to a specific activity’? Q4: In Activity Based Costing terminology to what does the following definition refer: ‘the product of dividing the cost pool for an activity by the cost driver volume’? Mini case study Rod Craft manufactures sea fishing rods and the accountant and production manager have recently analysed and identified various activities, cost drivers and current cross driver volume across the production unit. Budget for Quarter Ended 30 June 2020 Activity

Cost Pool £

Cost Driver Volume

Process Set Up


100 Set ups

Material Procurement


40 Purchase Orders



10 Maintenance Plans

Material Handling


2500 Material Movements

Quality Control


250 Inspections


400 Customers

Order Processing

£122,000 Q5: Calculate the cost pool driver rate per set up.

Q6: Calculate the cost pool driver rate per purchase order. Q7: Calculate the cost pool driver rate per maintenance plan. Q8: Calculate the cost pool driver rate per material movement. Q9: Calculate the cost pool driver rate per inspection. Q10: Calculate the cost pool driver rate per customer. The business has a number of products, one of which is the Rod Craft 3. In the budget period Quarter Ended 30 June 2020 it plans to produce 1,000 units of Rod Craft 3. To achieve this output it will require the following: • 3 Set Ups • 4 Purchase Orders • 1 Maintenance Plan • 150 Material Movements • 100 Inspections • 12 Sales Customers Using the ABC principles calculate: Q11: The amount of overhead recovered for the number of set ups. Q12: The amount of overhead recovered for the number of purchase orders. Q13: The amount of overhead recovered for the number of maintenance plans. Q14: The amount of overhead recovered for the number of material movements. Q15: The amount of overhead recovered for the number of inspections. Q16: The amount of overhead recovered for the number of customers. Q17: The total overhead recovered for the planned production. Q18: The overhead charge per unit of output. Each unit of output takes four standard hours of direct labour at £12 per hour and the direct material cost is £30. Q19: Calculate the production cost of one unit of output. • Dr Philip E Dunn is a freelance author and technical editor for Kaplan and Osborne Books

Answers: Q1 Activity; Q2 Cost Driver; Q3 Cost Pool; Q4 Cost Driver Rate; Q5 £400; Q6 £250; Q7 £1250; Q8 £10; Q9 £82; Q10 £35; Q11 £1200; Q12 £1000; Q13 £1250; Q14 £1500; Q15 £8200; Q16 £420; Q17 £13570; Q18 £13.57; Q19 £91.57 PQ Magazine June 2021


PQ CIMA case study exams

Get on the case Clancy Peiris explains how you can put your technical knowledge into practice ach level of the CIMA professional qualification culminates in a case study exam, which integrates the knowledge, skills and techniques from across the three pillars into one synoptic capstone examination. The case study exam is a role simulation. It requires candidates to perform authentic work-based activities presented during the course of the exam, drawing together learning from each of the three subjects to provide solutions to the issues and challenges asked. In short, CIMA case study exams are designed to test what you can do, not just what you know. To achieve a high score in the case study exams, you will need to strike the right balance between technical understanding and practical application to the issues and challenges raised in the scenario. You will also need to provide clear and comprehensive explatination for your recommendations or arguments. The below paragraph is an extract from a real Management Case Study exam answer from August 2020 (Variant 1: Task 1), where the candidate scored 120. I will use this answer to illustrate 5 things you can do to demonstrate your ability to apply your technical knowledge and skills to a real-life business scenario. ‘‘I would like you to: Firstly, prepare briefing notes for me to use in my presentation to the Board. Please use Note 1 and consider both financial and nonfinancial factors. (60%)’’ [sub-task 1]


“Net present value and IRR Net present value (NPV) is the most c ommonly used method for project appraisals. It is preferred to IRR because it is an absolute measure so it allows for comparisons between different projects. For the pool and the gym projects at Alpaca1, we can firstly see2 that both NPV’s are positive and so each project would be acceptable as the expected present value of cash inflows are greater than the present value of cash outflows. Secondly, we can see that the gym project has a higher NPV (M$8m) compared to the pool project (M$7.5m), 3 therefore if we are restricted with our capital investment funds for any reason (such as external limitations), then it is favourable to proceed with the gym project4 over the pool project, due to the higher NPV.’’ 28

1. Mention names This is an elementary tactic, but it demonstrates that you’re familiar with the information provided in the scenario. Therefore, make sure to mention the name of your organisation, line manager, colleagues, stakeholders, product, or project in your answer as the candidate does in our example with the company name (Alpaca). 2. Write in the first person Remember that CIMA case study exams are business simulations of real-life job tasks that someone at that level is expected to perform. The question requirements are conversational and arrive in the form of an email in which your line manager asks you to perform a set of tasks. Therefore, you need to write your answer representing the job role (e.g. Finance Officer in the Operational Case Study exam) using phrases such as ‘’we should consider…’’ or ‘’I recommend that…’’. As you see in our example, the candidate used ‘’we can firstly see…” and “if we are restricted…” to build his answer. 3. Paraphrase scenario information You should draw on information that’s provided in the pre-seen and/or unseen materials. However, you shouldn’t simply repeat the information given in the scenario but rather paraphrase it. In other words, draw on relevant

information to support the point you’re making. For instance, the candidate in the above answer mentioned ‘’…gym project has a higher NPV (M$8m) compared to the pool project (M$7.5m)...’’ to support his interpretation of this information as explained in my next point. 4. Provide your interpretation (and discussion) of scenario information Pay attention to the exact task you are asked to perform, focus on the purpose of providing the information and the format you need to deliver it in (e.g. email, report, briefing note). The main aim here is to help you stay on track and address the question requirement, but by default, you’ll also be demonstrating your technical knowledge and ability to apply it to a real-life business scenario – why is that? Because you will be using evidence from the pre-seen or unseen materials in your answer. In our example, the candidate recommends one project over another project with appropriate justification, based on his/her interpretation of the information provided ‘’ … if we are restricted with our capital investment funds for any reason (such as external limitations), then it is favourable to proceed with the gym project over the pool project, due to the higher NPV.’’ 5. Operationalise the theory in the context In our example, the first two sentences outline “textbook theory” about NPV and IRR and you can see that the “game” of applying technical knowledge to a practical scenario starts from the third sentence onwards. The candidate demonstrates the ability to put his/her knowledge on NPV and IRR to “practical use” by arguing that ‘’both NPV’s are positive and so each project would be acceptable as the expected present value of cash inflows are greater than the present value of cash outflows’’ followed by a logical conclusion as I explained earlier. When we talk about “application of knowledge” it may sound a little scary at first, but as you’ve now seen, it’s simply about putting your knowledge to practical use – quite possibly what you already do most days at work. It’s essentially like reading the instructions for putting flat pack furniture together and then using the knowledge from the instructions and the tools provided to do it (although sometimes, it’s a lot more challenging than it looks!). I hope that using a real answer as an example has given you a more tangible idea of how to put your technical knowledge to the fore and successfully pass your CIMA Case Study exam. Good luck with your studies! • Clancy Peiris, Senior Learning Development Manager, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA & CIMA) PQ Magazine June 2021

pq sept 07 p16 Q6



Page 16

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PQ jobs pqjobs.co.uk


Overseas VAT transactions simplified! In the latest in his ‘Keep it Simple’ series, Neil Da Costa tackles the dreaded topic of VAT on overseas transactions. With the UK leaving the EU, this is a topic expected to feature in the forthcoming tax exams Exports of goods before Brexit Exports are zero-rated, which means that as the goods are leaving the UK there is no output VAT payable. However, they are taxable supplies, and an export company is still permitted to claim back input VAT on the UK purchases. Sales to EU customers before Brexit were called dispatches, and the only sales subject to 20% VAT were to a non-VAT registered person within the EU. Any sales outside the EU were zero-rated regardless of the customer being VAT registered. Imports of goods before Brexit Imports from an EU supplier were called acquisitions in the UK and no VAT was payable. However, the UK company was required to account for both input and output VAT in the same quarter. This was called the EU reverse charge. Imports from outside the EU were called third country imports and input VAT was payable at 20% once the goods arrived in the UK. As the UK business is VAT registered, this input VAT could be claimed back. To avoid cash flow problems, the company was allowed to postpone the payment of VAT until the 15th of the following month under the deferment scheme. Simple Example: British Bikes Ltd British Bikes Ltd is VAT registered and has the following information (VAT exclusive) for 1.1.20 – 31.3.20. All sales are to non-VAT registered persons. UK customer sales £100,000, French customer sales £100,000, Australian customer sales £100,000. 30

UK purchases £50,000, German parts £20,000, Taiwan parts £20,000. Solution To Simple Example: British Bikes Ltd Output VAT is payable on both the UK and French customer sales (£200,000 x 20% = £40,000). The sales to Australian customers were zero-rated. The company can claim back input VAT on its UK purchases (£50,000 x 20% = £10,000). The German parts would result in a reverse charge of £20,000 x 20% = £4,000 treated as both input and output VAT. The Taiwan parts would also result in input VAT of £4,000 which can be claimed back. This means that the total output VAT will be £40,000 + £4000 = £44,000 The total input VAT will be £10,000 + £4,000 + 4,000 = £18,000. The VAT payable is £44,000 - £18,000 = £26,000. Exports and imports of goods after Brexit (1/1/2021 onwards) Sales to EU customers after Brexit are now identical to sales outside the EU and all exports are zero-rated. All imports are subject to VAT at 20% which can be claimed back under the deferment scheme. Simple Example: British Bikes Ltd British Bikes Ltd is VAT registered and has the following information (VAT exclusive) for 1.1.21– 31.3.21. All sales are to non-VAT registered persons. UK customer sales £100,000, French

customer sales £100,000, Australian customer sales £100,000. UK purchases £50,000, German parts £20,000, Taiwan parts £20,000. Solution To Simple Example: British Bikes Ltd Output VAT is payable on only the UK customer sales (£100,000 x 20% = £20,000) The sales to French and Australian customers are zero-rated. The company can claim back input VAT on its UK purchases (£50,000 x 20% = £10,000). The German and Taiwan parts would result in input VAT of £40,000 x 20% = £8,000 which can be claimed back. This means that the total output VAT will be £20,000. The total input VAT will be £10,000 + £8,000 = £18,000. The VAT payable is £20,000 - £18,000 = £2,000. Trade And Cooperation Agreement (TCA) Just before Brexit, the UK agreed a free trade agreement with the EU which means goods can move freely in both directions without tariffs and will not be restricted by quotas. To comply with the TCA, the goods must originate in the UK and EU. Simple Example: British Bikes Ltd British Bikes would not satisfy the origin test as it uses parts from Taiwan. As a result, the sales to French customers may attract tariffs and would instead come under the WTO Most Favoured Nation (MFN) rules. This could make the bikes more expensive. Services to overseas customers B2B sales are taxed in the customer’s country and result in the service reverse charge. B2C sales will be taxed in the seller’s country. • Neil Da Costa is a Senior Tax Lecturer with Kaplan in London. He believes in keeping things simple and making tax fun PQ Magazine June 2021







PQ CIPFA spotlight

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go CIPFA’s Sarah Shreeves highlights the importance of CPD any of us will have first encountered the iconic works of Dr Seuss when we were learning one of our most fundamental lifelong skills – reading. As the wise man himself wrote: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” At CIPFA, not only do we think this is great advice for young readers, but it should be a fundamental principle by which we live our entire lives. Learning and development are not simply static means by which one acquires qualifications and letters after your name. Learning is a journey that underpins your professional development throughout your entire career. The landscape for public finance professionals is constantly shifting. While some things in the public sector remain the same, namely financial constraints and the need for funding reform, many of the challenges faced by those entering the profession today are fundamentally different. The contemporary finance professional is contending with the tangible outcomes of Brexit and will soon be facing the aftershocks of the pandemic and the need to take action on the climate change crisis. While professional qualifications


will need to adapt to equip those entering the profession with the skills they need from the start of their careers, it will also be vital that qualified professionals are maintaining a process of continual professional development in order to keep their knowledge and skills

up to date with the changing world around them. Not only does CPD support professionals with the continually changing requirements of their day jobs, it also enhances future employability and career prospects. Future CFOs will need more than



Sunil Bhandari


Jo Tuffill Aileen Edgar


Sunil Bhandari


Geoff Cordwell & Mustafa Muchhala




AFM Erin Morton



their professional qualification and experience alone. The CFOs of the future across the public sector need to be leaders and strategists, influencers and change-makers, as adept with digital platforms and the adoption of new technologies as they are with traditional accounting methodologies. This is why CIPFA has partnered with accountingcpd on a new benefit for student and members. Access to this fully online platform containing over 1,000 hours of content makes meeting your CPD requirements flexible and convenient. The CPD Bites service even provides fully tracked, 15-minute learning sessions that you can fit into the busiest of days. The world is changing fast and accountancy professionals need to be prepared to change with it. CPD is a core element of your ongoing career journey. To bookend this piece with the immortal words of Dr Seuss: “You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. … And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)” • Sarah Shreeves, Head of Training Services, CIPFA

Richard Poole


Ashim Kumar & Sean Purcell


Tom Clendon

PQ Magazine June 2021

ACCA June exam tips PQ

Here’s our ACCA exam guidance for the June 2021 sitting, with a little help from BPP Performance Management PM Any syllabus area can be tested in sections A&B, so the best advice is to study all areas of the syllabus. But you knew that already. Areas expected to be tested in section C include (but are not limited to): budgetary systems, planning and operational variances, mix and yield variances, and evaluation of the company performance (either as a whole, or on a divisional basis). This is a performance management paper, so you would be advised to be prepared to evaluate some performance. General advice: You are strongly advised to plan answers to section C questions before starting to type. Ensure that you make reference to the scenario in your answer. Finally, the examining team have repeatedly stated that they expect students to study broadly for all of the syllabus areas, meaning that question spotting is not a good idea, instead students should expect the unexpected. Since the introduction of MCQs this advice is even more critical because more topics can be tested. The exam will be approximately 40% calculation and 60% discussion, meaning that it is not sufficient to be able to perform all of the calculations. Interpretation and application are crucial, especially in section C. Taxation TX (UK) In section A there will be a wide range of topics tested as there are 15 OTQs. Tutors expect at least a couple of these to be devoted to the PQ Magazine June 2021

administration of income tax and corporation tax. So, candidates should ensure they are comfortable with the following: • Due dates for the payment of income tax (including payments on account). • Due dates for the payment of corporation tax (including instalments for large companies). • Filing dates for the income tax and corporation tax returns. • Penalties and interest for late payments and returns. Other topic areas also likely to be tested in section A of the exam are: • VAT rules on registration, impairment loss (bad debt) relief, and the SME schemes relating to cash accounting, annual accounting and flat rate schemes. • Inheritance tax due on lifetime transfers both in the donor’s life and on death. • Statutory residence tests for individuals. • Identification of groups of companies for corporation tax loss reliefs and gains. • Trading loss reliefs for both companies and sole traders. It is important to remember that section A offers the exam team an opportunity to test the whole syllabus, so practising all kinds of TX questions from the practice and revision kit will help build on and complement your existing knowledge. In section B of the exam the questions will be similar to those of section A, but there will be a longer scenario to deal with. This means a slightly different exam skill is necessary as

you have more information to work through and each OTQ will require you to find the relevant information or data in that scenario. It is not a difficult skill, but we would hope you have had time to practise an extensive range of section B questions from the practice and revision kit before attempting the real exam. In section C you will face the longer, constructive response questions with scenarios and much more open requirements. Your answers will need not just sound technical knowledge, but also the application of that knowledge to the question you have been asked. Furthermore, your answer will have to be presented logically so the marker can follow your thought processes. At least 50% of your revision time should be spent answering the section C questions in the practice and revision kit to build up confidence and speed in a way that will also maximise marks. 1. Remember to learn your income tax and corporation tax pro formas. 2. Calculations which require no more than two or three entries into your calculator can be included on the face of your pro formas (e.g. time apportioning a salary). Calculations which are more complex (e.g. company car benefits) need separate workings which are properly referenced (W1, W2 etc) and have a heading. 3. Actually attempt the narrative parts of the requirement – aim for as many sentences as there are marks with each sentence containing something technical. Keep your paragraphs to no more than 3 sentences long. 4. In both numerical and narrative answers leave plenty of space on the page. So, in pro formas – leave a gap between each line (you may need to add something in). Show workings down the page, rather than across the page as it makes them easier to mark. In narrative answers leave a line or two between each paragraph just in case you remember something later. Well spaced answers are also easier to mark – and you always want to keep the marker happy. We know that the two longest questions will focus on income tax and corporation tax. These are likely to include the following: • Employment benefits. • Property income. • Relief for pension contributions. • Adjustments to profit to arrive at trading income for both companies and sole traders – in past sittings we have seen a number of questions whereby you have to correct errors in computations included in the scenario. • Capital allowance computations. So, remember to cover the whole syllabus when using the practice and revision kit. Finally, remember the pass mark is 50% so you don’t need to be perfect. If you don’t know something have a guess and move on. Sometimes you have to do that in order to get follow through marks in section C questions. If you make a mistake, but then use that incorrect figure later in a subsequent calculation, then that’s fine - you can only lose the mark once. In sections A and B never leave an OTQ unanswered - have a guess if you don’t know Continued on page 34 33

PQ ACCA June exam tips the answer. It might be right! Financial Reporting FR Section A: • Fifteen 2-mark OTQs on a wide range of topics including several on consolidation and interpretation of financial statements. • Expect a few questions on non-core areas (e.g. inflation, specialised entities). Section B (Case questions): • Three separate scenarios with five OTQs on each scenario; each question is worth 2 marks. • Each scenario could be a mix of topic areas or focused on one topic and will usually consist of two/three calculations and two/ three narratives. • Questions are not dependant on each other and can be answered in any order. Section C (Constructed response questions): • Two 20-mark questions, one covering interpretations and the other preparation of financial statements. • One question is likely to be in the context of a single company and one in the context of a group, so you could have a single company interpretation and a groups preparation or vice versa. • Accounts preparation questions may include extracts or standalone calculations or full statements of profit or loss and other


• •

comprehensive income and/or statement of financial position. Both questions will cover the accounting for items from other areas of the syllabus. May include a short separate part, e.g. with a statement of changes in equity, statement of cash flows extract, earnings per share calculation or linked written topic. A consolidation question would include one subsidiary and often an associate, with adjustments, e.g. fair values, deferred/ contingent consideration, PUP on inventories/ PPE, intragroup trading and balances, goods/ cash in transit. A single entity question could be preparation from a trial balance or restatement of given financial statements with the usual adjustments for depreciation, revaluation and current/deferred tax (including deferred tax on revaluations) plus a mixture of adjustments on other syllabus areas, e.g. leases, substance over form issues, financial instruments (change in fair value or amortised cost), share issues, government grants, inventory valuation, revenue recognition or construction contracts.

Audit & Assurance AA All three questions in section B will be broken down into sub requirements and be scenario based. The majority of marks in each question will test syllabus areas B, C and/or D. Areas expected to be tested in questions 16 to

18 include: • Audit planning. • Audit risk (identification and explanation of audit risks from a scenario and explanation of the auditor’s response to each risk). • Internal audit. • Internal controls (identification and explanation of deficiencies in internal control and the recommendation of suitable internal controls or description of tests of controls). • Audit procedures (both substantive procedures and tests of controls). General advice: Where questions are based on a scenario it is essential that you use the information in the scenario to make your answers relevant. You should also think about how you will present your answer – try to use a tabular format in your solutions where relevant as the examining team have stated that candidates who do this score better. Pay attention to the verbs used in question requirements as these indicate the number of marks available. For example, the verb “explain” requires a sentence and will score one mark if properly explained whereas the verb “list” simply requires you to list out information with no further explanation and this will score 0.5 mark per point. Finally, please read the examining team’s comments relating to past exams which are on the ACCA website: http://www.accaglobal. com/uk/en/student/exam-supportresources/ fundamentals-exams-study-resources/f8/

PQ Magazine June 2021

ACCA June exam tips PQ examiners-reports.html. Financial Management FM Questions in section A will often be knowledge based (testing your knowledge of key technical terms), and will balance out the questions in section B and C of the exam to make sure that all aspects of the syllabus are examined. It is therefore likely that a good number of these questions will test your understanding of financial management and objectives (ratio analysis, the concept of shareholder wealth) as well as the economic environment and financial institutions topics (financial intermediation, fiscal and monetary policies). The efficient market hypothesis is likely to be tested here too. Each section B case-study will be broken down into five separate 2-mark MCQs (so 15 questions in total). Areas expected to be commonly tested in this section are working capital management (e.g. the operating cycle, the impact of a change in credit period or accepting a factor’s offer), business or security valuations (e.g. methods of valuation), and financial risk management (most likely mainly in the form of currency risk, but it is possible that interest rate risk is examined here). Section C’s two 20-mark questions will be broken down into sub requirements and be scenario based. These two questions will focus mainly on syllabus sections C, D and E. Section C is working capital management, section D is investment appraisal and is likely to feature NPV with inflation and tax. Section E is business finance; either an evaluation of financing options (interest coverage and gearing ratios are likely to be important here) or a cost of capital and analysis are most likely. Whichever of these three topics does not feature in section C is likely to appear in section B of the exam. Keep checking the ACCA website for articles in the lead up to the exam, any articles written by the examining team are often tested and are important to read. Strategic Business Reporting SBR It is vital that you read the examiner’s approach article available on the ACCA website. ACCA has also published several exam technique and technical articles that you should read as part of your exam preparation – read the two articles called ‘Revising for the September 2020 exam session’ (parts 1 and 2). These are available in the exam technique section of the SBR exam support resources section of the ACCA website www.accaglobal.com. The exam section A will be 2 questions, worth 50 marks in total. Question 1 - 30 marks: • Q1 will be based on group accounting. Be aware that this question may test any aspect of group accounting, including consolidated statements of cash flows, overseas subsidiaries and associates and JVs. • Make sure you attempt all parts of the requirement in Q1. The most recent examiner’s report stated that some candidates are not attempting the required calculations and therefore struggling to gain a pass mark on this question. PQ Magazine June 2021


These tips should only be used in conjunction with proper study. We cannot guarantee that these topics will appear in the actual exam as we have not seen the exam papers. Examiners are not predictable so it is vital that all core syllabus areas are revised fully. • To score well, you need to do the calculations and explain the principles underlying the calculations you have performed. Question 2 - 20 marks, including two professional marks: • Q2 will cover the reporting and ethical implications in a given scenario. Make sure you consider any threats to the fundamental principles of ACCA’s Code of Ethics and Conduct in your answer. • Two professional marks are available in this question for application of relevant ethical principles to the scenario. In order to gain the marks, your answer must be realistic and sensible. Stating that all issues should immediately be reported to the legal authorities without further discussion is unlikely to be awarded the professional marks as this advice is not realistic. • Make sure that you only spend the allocated amount of time on the second question (e.g. 20-mark question = 20 x 1.95 minutes per mark = 39 minutes maximum). The examiner has recently commented that students seem to be spending too long on this question and not leaving enough time for the rest of the exam. Section B will be two questions, worth 25 marks each: • Section B can deal with any area of the syllabus and may be based on a short scenario, a case study with several parts, or an essay. • Section B will always include a question or part-question involving the analysis or appraisal of information from the perspective

of a stakeholder. Make sure you have a go at answering this question. There is no ‘right’ answer at this level - marks will be awarded for sensible points that have been applied to the scenario. • There are two professional marks available for the question that covers the stakeholder’s perspective. To gain these marks, you must discuss the issue from the perspective of the stakeholder – e.g. if asked for the investor’s perspective, you must answer from the investor’s perspective. • Current issues are usually examined in section B as a part of a question (not a full question). However, current issues could be examined in either section A or section B of the exam. A question on current issues may require the application of existing accounting standards to a current accounting issue - for example, accounting for cryptocurrency. • The Conceptual Framework has featured significantly in SBR exams to date – be prepared for this. General advice: Make sure you plan your time at the beginning of the exam (and stick to it) to ensure you don’t over-run on particular question – it is 1.95 minutes per mark (or 1.8 minutes per mark if you allocate 15 minutes to reading the paper). Strategic Business Leader SBL As with all other ACCA exams SBL is examined as a closed book examination. Unlike the other Strategic Professional level exams which are 3 hours and 15 minutes in duration, the SBL exam has a duration of 4 hours. The exam builds upon the knowledge that you gained at the ‘Applied Knowledge’ and ‘Applied Skills’ levels. However, it does also have its own distinct syllabus content. As with all other ACCA examinations the pass mark for SBL is 50%. You will not be issued with any pre-seen information in advance of sitting your exam as everything you will require will be made available to you within the examination itself. The SBL exam will focus on one main organisation, and all of the question requirements will relate to this organisation. You may have to take on a variety of roles which may require you to adopt an internal or external perspective when answering questions. You will also be required to respond to a variety of people within the organisation. All of the questions in the exam are compulsory. Every SBL exam will consist of 80 technical marks and 20 Professional Skills marks. Question requirements in the exam will assess and link several subject areas from across the syllabus, and these will test your ability to construct appropriate responses and to carry out numerical analysis. General advice: While 4 hours (240 minutes) may initially sound like a lot of time in which to attempt the exam, it is crucial not to become complacent in how you use this time. The Strategic Business Leader exam is demanding, and as such you need to give careful consideration to how you will manage your time to make the most effective use of it. ACCA recommend spending approximately Continued on page 36 35

PQ ACCA June exam tips 40 minutes reading, planning and interpreting the requirements and the information/exhibits provided. Based on this estimation when planning the amount of time you will spend on each requirement you should look to allocate 2.5 minutes per mark on offer. This time allocation is based on the fact that the exam is 240 minutes in duration, once the 40 minutes reading time is deducted this gives 200 minutes to write up your answer in order to earn the 100 marks on offer. You can earn the 20 Professional Skills marks by virtue of attempting the 80 technical marks on offer, so we can divide the 200 minutes remaining over the 80 technical marks to give 2.5 minutes per mark. It is important to note that you can spend longer than the recommended 40 minutes reading and planning your answer. If you do choose to spend longer on this task then you will need to bear this in mind when you come to writing your answers. Alternatively, you may prefer to work on the basis of 2 minutes per mark (being 200 minutes divided by 100 marks). Regardless of the method you use when allocating your time it is crucial that you stick closely to your timings as this should help to ensure that you do not spend too long on one question requirement to the detriment of those you are yet to attempt. Reading question requirements: The SBL exam will contain all of the information that you will require to answer the question requirements set. This information will be presented in a series of exhibits. To help you locate the exhibits most relevant to answering a specific question it is therefore important that you take the time to read the question requirements set carefully as this should help to direct you. Furthermore, reading the question requirements carefully is important as this will indicate the role and the perspective from which you are expected to answer the question. Identifying this early on is important as it will drive how you construct your answer. Planning your answer: Clearly, if you have gone to the trouble of preparing an answer plan it is important that you use it when writing up your answer. To get the most from your answer plan it is therefore important that you include as much detail as you think will be helpful when the time comes to write up your answer. When planning your work it is important to bear in mind the ACCA’s guide of using 40 minutes for reading and planning. As mentioned earlier you need to remember that some question requirements may require you to conduct some numerical analysis. For example, you may be asked to analyse the performance of the organisation featured in the exam. It is important that you plan the numerical analysis that you intend to perform to ensure that you only focus on performing those calculations that are going to support your answer and provide you with something to talk about. Producing lots and lots of unnecessary calculations for the sake of it will only serve to waste your time in the exam. Understanding the syllabus and the appropriate use of theoretical models in the exam: To stand the best chance of passing the SBL exam, you will need to have a good 36

understanding of the entire syllabus. However, it is important to remember that unlike other exams that you may have sat in the past, questions in the SBL exam will not ask you to simply regurgitate your knowledge of a particular topic or theoretical model. Requirements will test your ability to apply your understanding of the subjects covered in the SBL syllabus in the context of the question scenario. Furthermore, requirements will not specifically ask you to use a particular model in answering the question. Whether to use a theoretical model when constructing your answer will be a matter of judgement that you will need to weigh up in light of the information presented to you in the exam. Attempting plenty of questions in the lead up to your exam is the most effective way of developing your judgement in this area. Understanding the difference between technical marks and Professional Skill marks: Technical marks relate to the knowledge (which we discussed in the previous section), there are 80 technical marks on offer in the exam. By contrast the 20 Professional Skills marks are awarded for displaying the following skills and behaviours: • Communication. • Commercial acumen. • Analysis. • Scepticism. • Evaluation. Every Professional Skill will be tested in every SBL exam sitting. The Professional Skill being tested will be specified under each question requirement. As you prepare to attempt the exam it is crucial that you take the time to attempt as many practice questions as you can.

To increase your chances of exam success you need to ensure that you take sufficient time to develop your understanding of the Professional Skills. Visit the technical articles page of ACCA’s website: There are often very useful articles on ACCA’s website which cover key exam topics and subjects which may help with your exam preparation. There are also a number of articles about how to approach the exam and how to exhibit the professional skills in your answers. All technical articles can be found here: https:// www.accaglobal.com/gb/en/student/examsupport-resources/professional-examsstudyresources/strategic-business-leader/technicalarticles.html. Advanced Performance Management APM Q1 section A: Q1 of the APM exam will focus on a range of issues from syllabus section A (strategic planning and control), section C (performance measurement systems and design) and section D (strategic performance measurement). Section A (50 marks) contains one compulsory question. In recent exams Q1 has often required linking a business’s mission to its performance objectives using the concept of CSFs and KPIs. You may well also have to critique and recommend improvements to performance reports and the balanced scorecard and/or information systems could well be tested in this context. The assessment of performance is also likely to be tested and this could easily include benchmarking as a theme. Financial performance measures (ROCE/ RI/EVA etc) are also likely to be commonly PQ Magazine June 2021

ACCA June exam tips PQ examined in Q1 but don’t neglect non-financial issues from syllabus section D such as quality management and reward systems. Q2-3 section B: ACCA have said that one of the section B questions will come from syllabus section E (performance evaluation and corporate failure). In section B, commonly tested areas include quality management, information reporting (e.g. big data, lean information), the application of strategic models (such as PEST, Porter’s 5 forces, the value chain), HR frameworks (e.g. reward & appraisal systems), risk management and environmental management accounting. Keep checking the ACCA website for articles in the lead up to the exam, any articles written by the examining team are often tested and are very important to read. The article on the examiner’s approach to APM is especially worth reading and analysing. Advanced Taxation ATX (UK) The exam will comprise of two compulsory questions within section A which will both be of a case study style. The first question will be 35-marks in length and the second will be for 25-marks. One of these questions will focus on personal tax issues and the other will focus on corporate tax issues. In question one there will be four professional skills marks, and in section A there will be five marks on ethics. Section B will comprise of two compulsory 20-mark questions. These will be in a more succinct, note form style. The whole syllabus is examinable throughout the exam. The exam will examine candidates’ ability to analyse and evaluate the tax implications of various situations, numerical calculations will only be required to assist in producing an answer and no purely numerical questions will be set. Remember that these exam papers would have been written prior to the Covid outbreak and, as such, you should not be addressing any aspect of the virus in answering this paper. Any tax breaks available due to the outbreak are not examinable. Topics/scenarios we would expect to see are: • Personal income tax scenarios which could involve: investing in a pension; investing in EIS, SEIS or VCTs, share schemes; employment income possibly with termination payments; a personal service company; property income or a takeover. • Unincorporated business- particularly including loss reliefs, partnerships or basis period rules. • A question focussing on overseas issuesthis could be income tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax or a corporate scenario. • Capital gains tax versus inheritance tax including availability of reliefs. • Corporate scenarios- likely to focus in more depth on intangibles; research and development; losses; corporate groups or consortia. • Special corporate scenarios such as liquidation; purchase of own shares; close or investment companies. PQ Magazine June 2021

• A business transformation scenario question such as selling a sole trade business, incorporation, or, in a corporate context, the sale of shares versus the sale of trade and assets. • Other common types of question/calculation to expect are: • Reviewing a pre-prepared computation to spot, explain and correct errors. • Calculations such as “tax saved through an action”, “after-tax proceeds”, “the value of a post-tax inheritance”, “net spendable income” or the “net of tax cost of something”. Don’t forget that across the scenarios we will typically expect to see VAT marks available. Partial exemption, land & buildings, transfer of going concern, capital goods scheme, overseas VAT and registration/group registration tend to be frequently examined. There will also likely be a couple of marks for stamp duty points if you remember to think about it in your planning! Finally, don’t forget your basic administration points are also likely to be examined - when do we need to pay tax, when do we file a return and what if either of those are late? Advanced Audit & Assurance AAA You should by now have a good idea of what to expect - the most recent AAA exams have contained no real surprises, although you should be prepared for the look and feel of the embedded email and supporting exhibits. If you are sitting the CBE there are resources you should access. Section A will comprise a Case Study, worth 50 marks, set at the planning stage of the audit, for a single company, a group of companies or potentially several audit clients. Candidates will be provided with detailed information, which will vary between examinations, but is likely to include extracts of financial information, strategic, operational and other relevant information for a client, as well as extracts from audit working papers, which could include the results of analytical procedures. The date will be set as 1 July 20X5. Candidates will be required to address a range of requirements, from syllabus sections A, B, C and D thereby tackling a real-world situation where candidates may have to address a range of issues simultaneously in relation to planning, risk assessment, evidence gathering and ethical and professional considerations. Four professional marks will be available in section A and will be awarded based on the level of professionalism with which a candidate’s answer is presented, including the structure, layout and clarity of the answer provided. Section B will contain two compulsory 25 mark questions, with each being predominately based around a short scenario. There are no optional questions in AAA. One question will always test syllabus section E, and candidates should therefore always be prepared to answer a question relating to completion, review and reporting. There are a number of formats this question could adopt, including, but not limited to, matters to be considered and evidence expected to be on file, a going concern assessment, the impact

of subsequent events, evaluating identified misstatements and any corresponding effects on the auditor’s report. Candidates may also be asked to critique an auditor’s report or a report which is to be provided to management or those charged with governance. The second section B question can be drawn from any other part of the syllabus, including sections A, B, C, D and F. Syllabus section G on current issues is unlikely to form the basis of a question on its own, but instead will be incorporated into the Case Study or either of the section B questions depending on question content and the topical issues affecting the profession at the time of sitting the exam (for topical issues, see technical articles below). General advice: This subject often tests topical issues which have been covered by the examining team’s technical articles (for example, the impact of data analytics in September/December 2020). There are also five exam technique articles that you must read covering ethics, risk, accounting issues, audit procedures and reporting. All of the examining team’s articles can be found here. You are strongly advised to keep referring to these articles in advance of the exam. Advanced Financial Management AFM All AFM exams will have questions which have a focus on section B of the syllabus (advanced investment appraisal) and section E (treasury and advanced risk management techniques). These syllabus areas are therefore high priority areas for your revision. Q1 section A: You can expect section A questions to cover a number of different syllabus areas, emphasising the need to have a good broad knowledge of the syllabus (so you are strongly advised NOT to target your revision on a small number of syllabus areas). However, questions are often based on core syllabus areas such as: project appraisal (domestic or overseas), business valuations and business/financial reorganisations; these areas often include cost of capital calculations. Risk management may also feature in a number of different ways e.g. value at risk, real options, hedging, risk mapping. Q2-3 section B: • Risk management (currency or interest rate). • Dividend policy and general financing issues. • Real options. General advice: The examining team have emphasised that exams are designed to make question spotting extremely difficult for this paper, so it is important to have a broad understanding of the key aspects of each syllabus area. Don’t over-emphasise numerical analysis in your revision – remember that this paper is not a maths exam and in all exam questions the examiner is interested in your ability to communicate well and to give good management advice that relates to the scenario in the question. Keep checking the ACCA website for articles written by the examining team in the lead up to the exam, these are often tested and are important to review. 37


How to use KPIs Geoff Cordwell examines the topic of performance management in the not-for-profit sector

ne of the most common exam questions in the ACCA’s APM exam surrounds KPIs. In my opinion the examiner believes that many performance management systems lag behind the environment in which the business operates or otherwise do not fit with the businesses mission or purpose (see a previous article in PQ magazine, August 2020). This is why the examiner is keen that students can evaluate an existing KPI system against the businesses’ objectives or the environment in which it is in. Evaluation is a critical skill and without it, passing this exam will be difficult, so let’s explore how to evaluate a KPI system: The most common issues with an existing KPI system in the exam will often be: • An objective for which there is no KPI. So a simple gap. • A KPI that is in some way badly set (it is a number rather than a percentage for example). • The KPI that could be easily be manipulated by staff. • The KPI is unrealistic or unachievable. • The KPI is outside the control of the organisation or the individual made responsible for it. A student could easily use the above as a checklist, but one must remember that the KPIs are much more likely to be non-financial or nontraditional due to the nature of these organisations, so being able to think clearly in the exam will be important. Equally, the SMART mnemonic is another excellent way of thinking about the suitability of KPIs. • Is the KPI Specific enough? Does it use generic ‘performance’ phrases for example, or does it ignore the segments within the business? • Is the KPI Measurable? All KPI systems should have a reliable measurement system to back it up and the KPI itself must be capable of measurement. Most things are measurable with the use of a scale system but is the KPI, as given, inherently measurable is key. • Is the KPI Achievable? A little stretch is sensible to get the best out of people but if the target is too difficult then it could be ignored. • Is the KPI Relevant to the businesses’ environment and mission? Inconsistency here undermines the KPI system. • Does the KPI have a Time boundary? When does the KPI have to be achieved by? Let’s consider a university as an example. Suppose a University has the following agreed objectives and KPI system:


Objectives (extract)

KPIs (all)

To gain income from world class research

1. Minimum 25% of professor hours spent on research

To deliver first-class education

2. Degree classifications to be at least 70% at 2nd class or above

To provide pastoral care to students

3. At least 80% of graduates to find jobs at the end of their course How can we ‘evaluate’ this KPI system? Approaches could vary but perhaps the best way forward here is to consider each mission statement in turn and then evaluate the related KPI? To gain income from world class research: The relevant KPI is number one above. However, there are issues here. While one would hope that spending time on research would be fruitful, the KPI simply demands that time is spent and there is no mention of income production for the university. This could mean ‘pet’ projects are worked on rather than those more likely to be financially successful. To deliver first-class education: 38

One has to consider what constitutes a first-class education. Both the second and third KPIs above seem to be relevant. Degree results that are ‘good’ would seem to support the mission as stated. One wonders whether the target is sufficiently challenging or whether a target involving the proportion of first-class degrees might be more appropriate? Another problem with this KPI should occur to you. A typical university sets and marks its own exams and whilst the process may well be moderated one has to questions whether this KPI is too easily manipulated by generous marking? Equally, one could argue that for a degree to have real value then a job should follow thereafter. In this sense the third KPI is at least relevant. However, would any job be okay? Perhaps the KPI lacks specificality and a graduate job should be specified? To provide pastoral care to students: This mission objective is not dealt with at all by the stated KPIs. If and only if the examiner asked you to provide one, then you should do so. Perhaps having a KPI which targeted that access to care was offered within two days of a request would be appropriate? Your evaluation needs to be balanced and see the positives and the negatives of the existing system. Typically, however, you should expect to find more negatives with an existing KPI system in the APM exam. Virtually every APM exam contains questions on KPIs, it is clearly the most common of exam questions. A student simply must be able to evaluate an existing system well. • Geoff Cordwell is an ACCA APM specialist online tutor providing tuition, revision and mock courses for June 21 and September 21 onwards. See www.geoffcordwell.com and FMELearnonline.com Geoff regularly posts free content on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin. com/in/geoff-cordwell-96873316/ PQ Magazine June 2021

intangible assets PQ

The intangibles Sarah Ardiles explains everything you need to know about intangible assets and how they are calculated

nvestors rely on financial statements to make decisions about their investments. But are investors really getting the true picture? More than ever, companies are spending huge amounts of money on intangible assets, for example research and development (R&D). Indeed, last year Apple spent the best part of $20 billion on R&D! But often these assets are not recognised on companies’ balance sheets. Consequently, a large and widening gap has emerged between a company’s market capitalisation and the value of the net assets reported on the balance sheet. So, the question investors are asking is whether the way intangibles are accounted for faithfully represents the company’s value?


Definitions Let’s start at the beginning. What is an asset? Intangible assets (IAS 38) defines an asset as a resource that is controlled by an entity as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected. And what is an intangible asset? An intangible asset is an identifiable non-monetary asset without physical substance. Identifiable? What does that mean? An asset is identifiable if it is separable (i.e. it can be sold separately, without selling the whole business) or it arises from contractual or other legal rights. The real world To give you an example, think about a pharmaceutical company. The factory in which the medicines are produced is a tangible asset, whereas the chemical formulae of the medicines, the patents, the permission to make the drugs (the manufacturing licence) and the brand are all intangible assets. Which do you PQ Magazine June 2021

think is more valuable to the pharmaceutical company, the factories or the intangible assets? There is no contest, right? The intangibles of course. And yet it is often the case that many of a company’s intangibles are simply not recognised on their balance sheet. Why not? Good question. Well, just because a company spends money and expects future benefit, it doesn’t make it an asset that is recognised in the financial statements. This is because IAS 38 says that in order to recognise an intangible asset, as well as meeting the definition, two recognition criteria must be met: (1) it is probable that the expected future economic benefits that are attributable to the asset will flow to the entity; and (2) the cost of the asset can be measured reliably. Purchased intangibles These recognition criteria are deemed to always be satisfied where the intangible asset has been purchased by a company from an external party at a price. So if the pharma company acquired a licence to manufacture and sell the drugs, the licence would be capitalised at cost. Similarly, the purchase of the patent would be capitalised at cost. Patents and licences are both examples of purchased intangibles and, just like tangible assets, they are recognised at cost. Internally generated intangibles So, what about the pharmaceutical company’s brand? Let’s assume the brand has been organically grown (not purchased). As such, it cannot be recognised as an asset. IAS 38 specifically prohibits the recognition of internally generated brands because the expenditure on these brands cannot be distinguished from the cost of building the business as a whole.

Similarly, spending on advertising is expensed. Finally, how should the chemical formulae of the drugs be accounted for? Well, they have resulted from expenditure on R&D. R&D meets the definition of an intangible asset because it is identifiable (it could be sold separately). But does it get recognised? Go back and look at the two recognition criteria. Presumably the company will know how much it has spent on R&D so the reliable measurement requirement is met. And what about reaching the threshold of probable future economic benefit? Well, firstly IAS 38 states that research is always expensed. The rationale is that it cannot be demonstrated at the research phase that the expenditure will generate probable future economic benefit. Following a successful research phase, the drug is developed and tested and these development costs are capitalised if certain criteria are met (yes, there are additional recognition criteria for development costs!). There are six criteria in total (look them up!) and include the ability to demonstrate technical feasibility (of developing the drug), the availability of enough cash and other resources to complete the development, and the existence of a market (to sell the drug). If all of these criteria are met the company must capitalise the development costs. Otherwise, the costs are expensed. This is clearly a matter of judgment. Unsurprisingly, different companies take different views! But many companies end up expensing these costs. There is an interesting observation here. You could have two pharmaceutical companies with identical cashflows whose balance sheets look very different to each other simply because one company acquires its research and development externally – and therefore capitalises this purchased intangible – and the other generates them internally and so the assets remain invisible. Arguably, the company which develops internally is not showing the complete picture on their balance sheet. So, as they say, mind the gap! • Sarah Ardiles is a freelance lecturer specialising in FR and SBR 39

PQ study advice

Reaching the next level The experts from Mindful Education have some advice on what to look for from your next accounting course

his spring and early summer, students will be focusing on completing their accounting studies, followed by preparing for their assessments. This year has been hugely disrupted, so many students will be working hard to catch-up, to complete their course or apprenticeship as originally planned. Once you have crossed the finish line for your current accounting qualification – and taken a well-deserved rest! – it will then be time to start thinking about progressing to the next level. About how you might like to study, finding both the best training provider to suit your needs, as well as ensuring you’ve checked all the possible fees and funding options available to you.


How do you want to study? The study method you choose will need to keep you motivated, while also giving you the best chance of achieving your qualification. There are three main options to consider: • Blended learning: this is a highly flexible study method where students learn at their own pace online, in addition to meeting regularly with a college tutor who will guide you through the course. Classmates will also provide a valuable sounding board, both inside and outside the classroom, helping you to stay on track with your studies. The increasing driver 40

behind blended learning is that it provides the best of both worlds for students. • Face-to-face: students learn at the same pace (within the classroom), usually attending for two evening classes or one full day each week. Homework is set after class to help embed learning. Classmates will help you with interpreting new concepts and motivation, however this study method does lack flexibility for those with busy work or personal commitments. • Distance: students learn independently and at their own pace using textbooks and/or limited online resources. Direct tutor support is likely to be very limited and you will have little or no interaction with other learners. Achievement rates tend to be much lower with distance learning – as low as 10% – so although this approach can be cost-effective, it is usually only successful for students who already have some experience or expertise, and who are highly-motivated to study independently. Ask yourself which of these three study methods will be the best option for you, as hard work and dedication will certainly be needed for you to pass your exams, regardless of which choice you make. You should think about your preferred learning style and which approach is most likely to bring you success.

At Mindful Education we advocate blended learning as we believe learners benefit from the combination of flexible online lessons and also having a group learning element as part of their course. Research shows that when working together, learners are more motivated to achieve than they would be when working individually. When learning in groups students also learn to inquire, share ideas, clarify differences, problemsolve, and construct new understandings. Selecting your training provider Once you have selected your preferred way to study, you will have a wide range of colleges and training providers to pick from. The first step is to do some online research and create a shortlist of options, but you should avoid making your choice based solely on the contents of a provider’s website. If you can (Covid restrictions permitting), try to visit your college or training provider in person and speak with a tutor face-to-face. Alternatively attend a virtual open event and ask questions about how they deliver the course and their achievement rates (the percentage of people that start the course and go on to successfully complete their qualification). You can also ask to speak to past or current students, check out review sites like Trustpilot, or look at Ofsted ratings. Reputable, established providers such as local further education colleges, should be happy to provide this information for you. Accessing financial assistance for your course When assessing the costs of your course, be sure to take a moment to look beyond the upfront cost, and bear in mind exam fees and membership costs for your chosen awarding body so that you are aware of the total overall cost. When it comes to funding your course, there is a range of funding available to learners, both direct funding from the government as well as loan facilities that are also government-backed. For example, Adult Education Budget (AEB) funding is available for level 2 AAT qualifications to part-fund or fully-fund your course (based on eligibility). In addition, the government’s new National Skills Fund initiative means that the AAT level 3 course is now available fully-funded (in other words, free of charge!) for eligible learners. Even if you are not eligible for funding, you can access an Advanced Learner Loan through a college to cover the cost of study at level 3. It’s worth noting that not all training providers will be able to provide you with these forms of financial assistance, but further education colleges are more likely than not to have funding and finance options. Be sure to speak with the college regarding the exact details for the accounting course you are considering. If you’re interested in studying a flexible blended-learning course and would like to find out more about the funding available to you, then please contact your local college or training provider. Alternatively, if you are interested in studying an AAT qualification using our Online and On Campus blended learning approach then do visit the Mindful Education website to find your nearest provider. • Thanks to Mindful Education for this article PQ Magazine June 2021

ACCA scholarship PQ

ACCA launches scholarship for women ACCA student receives the newly created Ummed Jain scholarship ikshya Lama, an ACCA student in Nepal, has been selected to receive the prestigious inaugural scholarship in memory of Ummed Jain, FCCA. Ummed, Nepal’s first ACCA member, passed away in December 2020 at the age of 72. He travelled to the UK in 1970 under a scholarship from the British Council to study for the ACCA qualification, and after many years of inspiring future members into the profession, in 2006 he was the first recipient of the ACCA Achievement Award in recognition of his work to promote ACCA in Nepal. “Ummed Jain was an outstanding ambassador not only for ACCA but for the entire profession and the value it contributes to society,” said ACCA chief executive Helen Brand. “His influence on the accountancy profession’s development is enormous.” Rabin Katwal, head of ACCA Nepal, added: “Ummed’s passion and contribution to accountancy and accountancy education during the early days in Nepal will always be


remembered.” Ummed Jain was a passionate ACCA member, as are his three surviving children who are all Fellows of ACCA (FCCAs). His legacy now lives on to inspire and support the next generation of finance professionals with the introduction of a new scholarship fund set up by his family. The scholarship, awarded to an ACCA female student in Nepal, covers the costs of exams, tuition, and annual subscription fees for a whole year from the date the scholarship is awarded, with a new winner being selected annually. Ummed’s son Abhijay Jain said: “Dad was always a champion of women’s education and we are delighted that his legacy lives on via this scholarship. We are grateful for the support given by ACCA in the UK and in Nepal to launch this initiative and we look forward to supporting the next generation of ACCA students in the years to come.” Applications to apply for the annual scholarship opened in February 2021, with each applicant asked to detail how the scholarship would make a positive contribution to their career, community, and the overall accountancy profession. A total of 65 students shared their passions, dreams, and aspirations for the future in a short essay. Dikshya Lama has been selected to receive the inaugural scholarship. Dikshya has been an ACCA student since 2018 and has completed seven of her exams to date. In her essay submission she likens her education journey to coffee, both essential in her life, bittersweet at times, but with a rewarding feeling after.

Registered Tuition Provider

PQ Magazine June 2021


PQ social mobility

Widening the net EY Foundation launches an employability programme for professional services sector

he EY Foundation, an independent charity, has launched a new programme to help young people from lowincome backgrounds gain employment in the professional services sector. The two-year professional services programme includes paid work experience and employability skills training and will run during school holidays. Its aim is to support young people from more diverse backgrounds into work. The first cohort of young people started over the Easter holidays, where they learnt a range of essential skills to help them enter and thrive in the professional workplace. Delivered virtually, Anna Anthony, EY UK Managing Partner for Financial Services, took part as a judge in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event, where the young people pitched ideas for a new social enterprise. Speaking afterwards, Anthony said: “Professional services can feel distant and even off limits for some young people and that must end. This programme opens the door to a new wave of young talent and helps them to get a real feel and understanding of the sector. I was hugely impressed by the quality



of ideas, enthusiasm, confidence and ability to present. It is so important we continue to run programmes like this to ensure the pipeline is made up of the best talent, regardless of background.” Grant Beecham, Senior Innovation Manager from Linklaters, was also a judge and the organisation is another employer partner supporting the programme. He said: “This was a fantastic event to take part in. The students really impressed us in how they structured their presentations, and worked well together to deliver effective and engaging content. They rose to the challenge with creativity and enthusiasm. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience volunteering with the EY Foundation and would recommend it to others.” The programme aims to give students a head start securing a job in the professional services industry. Support includes being given a mentor for up to 24 months to advise them as they take their first step into working life – from application and recruitment, then ongoing once in a job. Acting CEO of the EY Foundation, Lynne Peabody said: “This is a tough time for young people looking for work and professional

services can appear especially difficult to enter. By bringing different employers together we will showcase the range of different roles available and encourage diverse new talent to join – and thrive – in the sector.” Following the event, 17-year-old Aimal, one of the young people currently taking part in the programme, also said: “The business challenge was both very fun and insightful, I was able to collaborate with my teammates to present an idea we were all passionate about. We implemented techniques and skills learnt previously in the programme to ensure we worked as efficiently as possible. As well as being able to tangibly see our new skills come into play, working together in a high-pressure scenario was incredibly enjoyable!” The programme is formally recognised and approved by the Institute of Leadership and Management. Students from all backgrounds are welcomed from across England and Scotland. The professional services programme is supported by corporate partner organisations and any employers wanting to find out more should contact kathryn.eastwood@ eyfoundation.ey.com

PQ Magazine June 2021

careers PQ

Dear Karen Ask PQ’s agony aunt Karen Young when you need expert advice. Email your dilemma to graham@pqmagazine.com, and he will pass on the best ones to Karen THE DILEMMA I have a final stage interview coming up which involves a presentation to a selection of stakeholders. Do you have any advice on how to present in an interview?

Life at the University of South Wales Rebecca Wright is a lecturer and ICAEW course leader at the university. She is both ACCA and ICAEW qualified, and was recently names PQ magazine Lecturer of the Year (public sector) for 2021 What time does your alarm go off? 6:10am, I drink a pint of water and complete a 20-minute HIIT each weekday. What is on your desk? Just a docking station. How long is your commute to your desk? About 30 seconds, rather than 30 minutes to Newport. Do you have a favourite lunch? Anything with fresh ingredients, from whatever I find in the fridge. What can you see when you sit at your desk? If I am in Newport, the River Usk. If I am home, my two dogs are never far away. Which websites are your favourites during lockdown? I do try to limit idle screen time so I can’t say I have one.

How many hours a week do you spend in online meeting rooms? At least 20 hours and probably five more completing prerecorded work for students. Are you spending more time working now than normal? I have never worked so hard as I have in the last 12 months. My heart goes out to students, studying is hard enough without a pandemic. How do you relax? With laughter. And I like to cook a lot as well. What is your favourite tipple? Gin or whisky. What’s your favourite TV show? Neighbours. I can’t believe I told you that! Also Grey’s Anatomy. What is the best film you have seen recently? Not a film but a short series – When They See Us.

Summer or winter? Summer – I love the beach and water, but my aim is to get fitter and return to the slopes as I love skiing. Pubs or clubs? I love dance music and I miss being lost within the beat at a club. I do miss the pub with friends, family and lots of laughter. Do you have a hero? My mum. She was fierce, tenacious and determined, life is that little bit duller without her. If you had a time machine where would you go? To see myself at 10 years old. I would tell myself that life can take many different turns, but one day I would find my groove, become a qualified accountant, an award-winning lecturer – and all before I was 40.

In brief KAREN’S RESPONSE Interviews can make us all nervous so it’s understandable if you are apprehensive, even if you’re presenting via video software. Ensure you are clear on what is being asked of you and how it is relates to the role. Find out who you will be presenting to, what their roles are and how you can deliver to their wants and needs. Presenting clearly and in an engaging way is essential, as your interviewer will be assessing your communication skills. Avoid spending the whole time reading straight from your slides and allow yourself to make eye contact, as well as pausing for questions. Recap the key points from each slide, keeping an eye on the time. Before your interview, run through your presentation in front of someone else who can provide feedback. Failing that, try recording yourself or simply delivering it in front of a mirror. Judge yourself honestly on confident communication; speaking pace, tone and body language are all important. Preparation is key so taking time to follow these steps will help – and good luck! • Karen Young is a director at Hays. She is passionate about helping people to find the right job, and companies to find the right person

PQ Magazine June 2021

Pap SME owners struggling with mental health issues Waging a constant battle to save their businesses has meant small business owners are reporting a mental health and welfare crisis, says a survey from ACCA and The Corporate Finance Network (CFN). The SME Tracker for March 2021 has revealed one in seven bosses (13.6%) were feeling unable to cope with work pressures, with another one in 13 (7.5%) reported having intrusive negative thoughts or suicidal feelings. Both figures were a substantial jump from the summer, when only one in 200

reported having suicidal or negative thoughts. Generally, 24% said their mental health was worsening, due to the stress and challenges of keeping their businesses afloat amid the global pandemic. Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK, said: “Small business owners have faced the most challenging year imaginable to save their businesses and it’s distressing that so many are facing mental health issues. Sadly, among all the announcements in the Spring Budget, there was no mention of any measures to help the business community with their

wellbeing, which was a big disappointment.” Pap Family ties finally cut Finance director Patrick Lewis, the great-grandson of John Lewis, is leaving the business. He has worked at the employee-owned retailer for more than a quarter of a century. The last remaining family member at the department store, he goes with a reported £1.5 million pay-off. Lewis leaves as the John Lewis Partnership scrapped staff bonuses for the first time since 1953 and fell into the red in April by £517 million.

The PQ Book Club: books you should read Rebel Ideas – The Power of Diverse Thinking, by Matthew Syed (John Murray, £9.99) Matthew Syed wants to know where the best ideas come from. In his book ‘Rebel Ideas’ he tries to uncover the bestkept secrets of the world’s most successful teams. He draws on psychology, anthropology and even network theory. The book starts with the catastrophic intelligence failings of the CIA before 9/11, and it is hard to argue with his logic. The CIA suffered from ‘homophily’ – where people tend to hire people who look and feel like themselves. But

Syed points out that to be successful the CIA needs people who think differently, not the same! He ultimately wants to show why diversity, and specifically cognitive diversity is central to human progress, and why people who are open to different viewpoints will enjoy a more fulfilling and successful life. In this he succeeds. Syed– a former Olympic table tennis player for Great Britain – takes a journey that includes a communication breakdown at the top of Mount Everest, the American neo-Nazi movement, and a moving tale of

de-radicalisation in America’s deep South. We really enjoyed reading about why the US air force had so many crashes in the 1950s, and how the Dutch reinvented football. Hey, you can also discover why most diets suit almost nobody! And it’s by looking at what went wrong Syed tries to show us how to get things right. PQ rating 5/5: If you need a break from reading accountancy books then read this book 43

PQ got a story, funny or serious, you want to share? Email graham@pqmagazine.com

Relax with your radio

I’m confused

One shortlisted Lecturer of the Year, Tom Clendon, thought the world had turned upside down: “Graham Hambly wearing a tie and Mark Ingram drinking beer! It can only be the fabulous #PQAwards.” See more on page 16

Separated at birth

Former PM Tony Blair

ICB’s Garry Carter


Radio 1 has launched a 24-hour schedule of programme on BBC Sounds aimed at helping stressed-out millennials and Gen Z listeners with their wellbeing. Radio 1 Relax hopes to “provide the ultimate destination for listeners to unwind, bringing the best well-being and relaxation focused shows… to help listeners deal with the challenges life can bring.” From 8am-9am, Radio 1’s Motivate Me Mix will feature musicians, sports stars and other famous faces sharing their own advice and techniques on how to build and maintain mental

fitness to weather difficult times. From 1pm-2pm is the Decompression Session, a mindfulness journey hosted by breathwork expert and performance coach Stuart Sandeman, which will equip young listeners with the skills they need to remain grounded no matter what life throws at them. From 4pm-6pm, listeners can tune into Radio 1’s Chillest Show with Sian Eleri. Sian landed her first regular slot on Radio 1 as presenter of the Chillest Show in January, playing host to Radio 1’s iconic Piano Sessions and helping listeners unwind on Sunday nights. Every day from 12am-2am, Radio 1 Relax will stream Deep Sleepcapes to help listeners unwind, rest and recharge, with an hour of ASMR to follow from 2am-3am. The stream will also feature 14 soundscapes from David Attenborough’s series Seven Worlds, One Planet, with listeners taken on a journey across seven unique continents from Antarctica to Africa.

Abrdn – worse rebrand ever? Standard Life Aberdeen has decided to change its name to – Abrd. The company says it will help end confusion after its 2017 merger! The move took many in the City by surprise, and led to much derision on social media. Some wondered if it was the “worst name change in history” and just a “a mid-life crisis”. The company defended its new “agile, digitally enabled brand”, which will be used from this summer. It said Abrdn would be pronounced ‘Aberdeen’. The problem for the company was Aberdeen, the Scottish city, owns most of the useful domain names.

Love in lockdown Spending on dating websites, gardening and pets have rocketed in the first three months of 2021, according to the latest spending data. Money splashed out on gardening rose 52% when compared with the same time last year; spending on online dating rose by a third; and there was a 22% increase in household pet spending. Figures from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association show 3.2 million households have bought a pet since the beginning of the pandemic.


Pick ‘n’ Mix The most recent three books reviewed by the PQ Book Club have been immense! So we are giving you the chance to win one of the three, to add to your Zoom-call shelving unit. Up for grabs are Ying Tan’s ‘Don’t Push Too Many Trolleys’, Jeffrey Gitomer’s ‘Go Live’ and Ben Chodor’s ‘Transitioning to Virtual and Hybrid Events’. To be in with a chance of winning one of these books simply send your name and address to giveaways@pqmagazine.com. Head up your email ‘Pick ‘n’ Mix’.

Matthew says… We have two great books from Matthew Syed to give away this month. As well as a copy of this month’s reviewed book ‘Rebel Ideas’, we are giving one lucky reader the companion tome ‘Black Box Thinking’. Matthew is trying to make you change the way you think about success. James Dyson called it a “gripping read”, and who are we to disagree? To be entered for this great draw email your name and address to giveaways@pqmagazine.com. Remember to head up your email ‘Rebel Ideas’ and we will do the rest

Terms and conditions: One entry per giveaway please. You must send your name and address to be entered for the draw. All giveaway entries must be received by Friday 2 July. The main draw will take place on Monday 5 July 2021.


PQ Magazine June 2021

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