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PQ magazine May 2018 /

ACCOUNTANCY ‘SUPERPOWER’ Our PQ of the Year, Tyson Nsimbe, believes that becoming a qualified accountant will give you the ‘superpowers’ businesses need, and who are we to disagree! Speaking honestly, he says finding a balance between work, life and study is tough for PQs. The exams don’t help either, they really are tough, too. But Nsimbe knows that it will all be worth it in the end. He admits that he hasn’t won many awards in his life, so becoming PQ of the Year is top of the list. You can read all about him on page 20. And you can now check out all the winners with our ‘PQ awards – the movie’ at pqmags/videos/1779184072142498/

CARILLION FALLOUT: FRC ‘UNDER THREAT’ The future of the Financial Reporting Council has been thrown into doubt after the government promised an independent inquiry into its whole operation. Business Secretary Greg Clark has said he is ordering a review into the accountancy watchdog, which has been criticised for not being tough enough on the auditors and firms who fail to spot problems at companies that later collapse. Created in 1990, the FRC has come under increasing pressure following the collapse of BHS and now Carillion. Concerns were raised when it cleared KPMG over the audit of HBOS, and it took 12 years to fine Deloitte over MG Rover failings. A call for the FRC to be put into special measures recently came from the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), an influential pension body. It has said that commissioners should be put in place until a fully independent agency can replace it. The LAPFF claims that the regulator is just too cosy with the Big 4 firms and the CBI. The inference here is that the FRC

has been captured by corporate elites. CEO Stephen Haddrill told the Financial Times in mid-March that the FRC had changed its mind and now believed that it may have to force the Big 4 firms to hive off their auditing divisions into ‘audit only’ firms. He also revealed he is in talks with the Competition & Markets Authority about opening a new investigation into the audit market. Haddrill admitted the FRC should have adopted a more proactive approach to its early enquiries into HBOS. In a letter to the Treasury Select Committee, he said it should have stepped forward rather than relying on other regulators to do their job first. Haddrill said he had taken onboard the criticism that the FRC has “too many people with a background in the major accounting firms we regulate”. He said the FRC was now conducting a further review of this aspect of its governance. New £10m fines for seriously poor audit work were put forward in early 2018 by the independent review into the FRC’s enforcement sanctions. The recommendation was an almost doubling of current fines. Events may have now overtaken all this.

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Future-proof your career

May 2018

News 06Social media Take care – recruiters are watching you! 08Trainee numbers Slowdown in PQ recruitment is predicted 10ACCAs’ plea UK PQs claim they are not being treated fairly Features, etc 04Mind your Ps&Qs ACCA needs to be more professional; another view of the CIMA ‘cheats’; and why ICAEW’s big ideas are pie in the sky 12PQ conference Great news! We are running a second one-day career conference, in association with LSBF – check out the details of how to book your place 13The Big 4 pay gap How the giants of the profession fare when it comes to equal pay

14ICAEW spotlight Student

societies are thriving – so why not sign up for the fun?

24CIPFA spotlight How the

institute is embracing digital 26Overheads All you need to know about this vital subject 27ACCA F5 Analysis is required 28Personal development Selfawareness will help you grow; and the pitfalls of running a business from home 29Careers Life at Kaplan; and the best of social media 30Fun stuff – and our giveaways The columnists Robert Bruce TaxAid needs you! 6 Prem Sikka Auditing reform: there’s no magic wand 8 Zoe Robinson Timing is the secret of success 10 Subscribe to PQ magazine It’s FREE – go to page 25 or see ABC July 2016 – June 2017

15Cryptocurrencies Finance


professionals need to know more about Bitcoin and the like

18ACCA exams Our paper-by-

paper guide to the March sitting

19ACCA CBEs Five top tips on

Publisher’s statement: We send a digital issue of the magazine to an additional 7,125 requested readers

how to get through these exams 20Superpowered Our PQ of the Year offers you his top exam tips

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

22AAT results The worldwide

pass rates for the CBAs; plus the role of the PSC explained

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

PQ magazine is joining forces with LSBF to offer readers a fantastic opportunity to find out what a future career in accountancy might look like. We have CIMA’s Noel Tagoe and ACCA’s Maggie McGhee opening our one-day conference. Even CIMA CEO Andrew Harding wanted to get involved, and he will be part of a panel discussion that will help you road-map your career. There will be a real ‘global’ feel to the day, hence the title: ‘Being Global: Future-proof your career in accountancy’. It’s also a totally free conference, and we expect it to be over-subscribed. So get on Eventbrite and sign up asap. Go to and put Monday 11 June in your diary planner now! We also jumped on the gender pay gap bandwagon (see pages 10 and 13). I found all the stats (means and medians) a bit overwhelming and pretty meaningless in the end (sorry). I think what we learn is that there just needs to be more women in top positions in the big accountancy firms. These firms also have to develop proper strategies to stop the attrition rates of women, who seem to be leaving at certain key points in their careers. PQ awards ‘superpower’ You can also read all about our accountancy ‘superpower’ Tyson Nsimbe in this issue (see page 20). He is looking to create a whole team of ‘Tysonly-trained geniuses’ too! It’s not as frightening as it sounds, though. Don’t forget to take a look at newly uploaded ‘PQ awards 2018 – the movie’. As we went to press it had already had over 1,000 views – that’s more than the people who were there on the night. It will only take three minutes of your life, and the dance off between CIMA’s David Rowsby and our Personality of the Year Vicky Taylor is worth the watch alone! A big thanks again to the Volspire Video Production team for all their hard work. See it at Graham Hambly, PQ magazine editor (

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PQ have your say

email Shape up, ACCA I was bemused by your article headlined ‘Beware last-minute ACCA exam updates’ in the April edition of PQ. Did ACCA really give “assurances that it wouldn’t happen again...”? ACCA posted on its own Facebook page on 28 January that “today is the deadline for standard exam entry” – despite the fact that the deadline was actually 29 January (I pointed this out to ACCA and they corrected it). It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the ACCA’s intention was to publish the P1 technical article on transaction costs some weeks or

even months prior to the exam and somebody either got their dates wrong or just forgot to do it. ACCA expects professionalism

from its members, affiliates and students – is it too much for us to expect professionalism from ACCA in return? Name and address supplied The editor says: The ACCA has definitely raised its game – they are our Accountancy Body of the Year. But I agree, administrative mistakes can be extremely annoying. It was at a meeting last year that I got that assurance and I will take it up with the big chiefs when I see them in the next few months and report back here – that’s a promise.

Our star letter writer wins a fantastic PQ memory stick! Prize guy Thank you for the surprise of winning the Osborne ACCA Revision F7 guide. I was speechless when I got the email telling me couple of days ago. I have failed F7 a couple of times and had actually given up, but now that I have won a good prize it’s a new day, and it’s back to my studies. I will keep you posted. Thanks again for the book, it is much appreciated. Just to let you also know that your magazine is always well worth a read, whether you are studying or not. It is an informative magazine for all students, especially part qualifieds like me. Ade, by email

made. What a good idea to close down any WhatsApp study groups around exam time – it really does remove the temptation to cheat.

I’ll be signing up I was pleased to hear that you are running another one-day seminar on how to improve your career prospects in a changing world. I was lucky enough to attend your November event at London South Bank uni and found it really informative and enjoyable. The lunch was pretty good too! My only complaint was that it was difficlut to choose which session to go to, as sometimes there was a clash. Anyway, I’m looking forward to June already and will be recommending it to my PQ friends. Jonathan, by email The editor says: Thanks for your kind words – we’re glad you enjoyed the day! You can sign up for our June by going to

I need

I’m with CIMA

Pie in the sky

I have to disagree with your commentary on the star letter in last month’s PQ magazine. CIMA makes it VERY clear that students are not to discuss ANY aspect of their case study exam until the exam window is closed. It’s only a week. We all understand the seriousness of not doing this and how we undermine our own results by not following the rules. Our study group closed down our WhatsApp group from the day

You reported in your last issue that “ICAEW has integrated the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development into its syllabus”. This includes the goals of, by 2030, “no poverty, zero hunger and gender equality”. Really? This is all very laudable, no doubt, but about as realistic as me scoring the winning goal for England at the World Cup. I’m all for making the world a better place – who isn’t? – but I’m not sure this posturing helps anyone. Name and address supplied

before the exam until the day after the window closed to ensure we weren’t even tempted to say something. There are a number of unscrupulous students who lurk on the message boards trying to gain an advantage, and it annoys me

that more isn’t done to close this down. If people are so dumb that they can’t figure out simple instructions they don’t deserve to qualify. Name and address supplied The editor says: Thanks for your thoughts – your points are well

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

Published by PQ Publishing © PQ Publishing 2018

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PQ news

ROBERT BRUCE Can you spare some time for TaxAid? Do you aspire to help some 25,000 confused and often frightened people every year? Many accountants do. The tax system is a mess. And that is what creates the confusion. One friend memorably described the UK’s tax system as resembling a giant structure built out of Lego. Changing it was impossible because everything was illogically dependent on each of the bricks. As a result, tax law and practice has become crazy and illogical. And that is where helping confused people comes into it. Everyone knows the confusion at the heart of tax helps the avoidance and evasion experts. Few know the human misery and confusion that is caused at the bottom of the economic pile. Just over 25 years ago an accountant called David Brodie thought he should do something about it. He founded TaxAid and it is still going strong. And the need is ever greater. Put simply, it advises the people who cannot cope. People who had not understood the tax code, had mental health problems, were illiterate or innumerate, or simply had not sought help until the tax demands had built up into an unmanageable debt. The charity is part-funded by, laudably enough, HMRC, and by donations and help from the large accounting firms and elsewhere in the professions. But it also relies on expert thoughtful people to man the phones or just provide advice. It needs people who really know their stuff and can proffer a helping hand – go to Robert Bruce is an award-winning writer on accountancy for The Times

You are being stalked! Do you feel like you are being stalked? Well, that could be the case, as a third of recruiters say they regularly use social media to ‘research’ potential candidates. Despite this fact, the same poll found one in four accountancy professionals don’t set their social media profiles to private. CV-Library’s study looked into both the attitudes towards social media and the effect it has on accountants’ employability. It discovered that over threequarters of candidates (77.3%) expect to be ‘Googled’ by potential employers and recruiters, with 75% revealing they are now more careful about what they post online.

Over two-thirds of candidates also believe that recruiters will judge them based on what they post on their social media profiles. And they would be right, as 69.8% of recruiters confirmed that they are influenced by what they find online!

The selfie is another problem area. Some 61.2% of recruiters said that selfies are not acceptable for use on professional profiles. Accountants agreed, and 56.6% felt these types of photos look unprofessional. CV-Library’s Lee Biggins said: “The selfie craze has taken off in recent years, but recruiters don’t appreciate these being used for professional purposes. While you might not think your pictures are incriminating in any way, there are certain negative connotations that come with selfies that could cost you a job. Instead, be sure to use a photo that is as professional as possible.”

CIMAs on the increase

The Big 4 accountancy firms are now recruiting a lot more CIMA PQs than ACCA ones, according to the recent Accountancy magazine survey. Together PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and EY have 854 CIMA trainees on their books, compared to just 301 ACCA students. In fact, KPMG in the UK is reported to have no (0) ACCA trainees signed up in 2017. Deloitte has the most CIMA trainees with 356. However, outside the Big 4 it is the ACCA qualification that is more popular. In the study of the Top 75 firms there are just over 1,000 ACCA’s study with the firms. This compares to 886 CIMA PQs. The ICAEW is by far the most popular qualification, with 67.5% of all PQs studying for this qualification. Next up is ICAS with 15% (2,506) of the total. Then comes the ACCA with 6.4% followed by CIMA with 5.3%. The CIOT and CIPFA also have students on the list, but in far lower numbers.

In a shock move, Becker has revealed it is withdrawing from the ACCA market. It informed PQ magazine that it will be ‘leaving’ the market from 30 June 2018. That means it will not be selling any new 2018/19 editions, and will stop selling current 2017/18 editions on 31 May 2018.

Synoptic worries for AAT sitters The struggles AAT PQs are having with the later synoptic assessments were laid bare when the AAT released its first full set of pass rates for the AQ2016 assessments. Students seem to be finding the foundation synoptic a breeze – it has a pass rate of 87%.

However, the advanced and professional diploma tests have very different success rates. Just 44% of students passed the advanced diploma synoptic assessment and only 41.2% of sitters passed the professional diploma synoptic assessment, up to

31 December 2017. The other problem paper in AQ2016 appears to be the professional level Cash & Treasury Management assessment, which has a pass rate of 41.4%. The AAT has also released the final success rates for AQ2013 assessments, which can be found in full on page 22.

to boot! So what’s next? Foster said: “Tomorrow I’m going to wake up, I’m going to button up my shirt, and I’m going to go back to my day job.” Sensible man.

are excited to see the quality of our accountancy teaching certified by such an important association.”

In brief ACA numbers on the rise The ACA is about to unveil another record recruitment year, with 8,437 students joining the ICAEW in 2017. That means total students numbers now stand at 27,866. In 2016 the ICAEW had 25,822 students in training contracts, of which 19,713 were UK-based. Ice hockey sensation A 36-year-old US accountant, Scott Foster, became an overnight ice hockey sensation recently when 6

he was called up to play the last 14 minutes for the Chicago Blackhawk’s after two goal-keepers were injured. The amateur kept a clean sheet, saving seven shots and won the man of the match belt

Toronto first The Toronto School of Management (TSoM) has secured ACCA silver learning partner status, becoming the first and only ‘approved’ provider in Canada. The ACCA has some 3,800 members and students in Canada, and TSoM’s Ehsan Safdari said: “We

Booking problems Are you an ACCA UK student planning to sit the ‘F’ CBE papers in June? We have heard there may have been shortages of CBE places in some areas. One message we received even suggested there was a ‘national shortage’ and students were being encouraged to book early to avoid disappointment. Email PQ Magazine May 2018

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PQ news

PREM SIKKA Auditing woes are not just about competition The Carillion scandal has encouraged calls for the break up of the Big 4 firms to sharpen competition. There is room for debate about competition, but that is not the magic cure for the failures of the auditing industry. The secondary banking crash of the mid-1970s showed how auditors frequently turned a blind eye to fraudulent practices. Pergamon Press, Ramor, Pinnock Finance, Vehicle and General, Court Line, London and Counties, and Grays Building Society became bywords for audit failures. The 1980s drew attention to audit failures at Johnson Matthey, De Lorean, Sound Diffusion, Alexander Howden, Barlow Clowse, Levitt, and Dunsdale. The 1990s were associated with audit failures at Maxwell, Bank of Credit and Commerce International, Polly Peck and Queens Moat Houses. The 2007-2008 banking crash raised more questions about the quality of audits but little has changed. Auditors enjoy too many liability shields and that has diluted pressures to deliver robust audits. Standards are effectively set by the industry itself, albeit through the Financial Reporting Council (FRC). They are often low and have nurtured a ‘checklist’ mentality at the expense of scepticism. By its own admission, the FRC has not always been an effective regulator. There are still no auditing standards about the public accountability of auditors. Confidence in auditing is unlikely to be restored without major reforms addressing issues about auditor independence, liability, regulation and public accountability. Prem Sikka is Emer itus Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex

Trainee numbers at the Top 75 UK accounting firms are being squeezed, with the total number of trainees growing by just 2.8% in 2017, according to the latest comprehensive survey from Accountancy magazine. This compares with an 18% rise in numbers in 2016. There appears to be some big changes in the recruitment policy at firms. The biggest recruiter of trainees, PwC, cut its trainee intake in 2017 by 5.5% to 3,625. Meanwhile, RSM reduced the number of trainees it took on from 400 in 2016 to just 280 in 2017. That’s a drop of 30%. Top firms BDO, Moore Stephens and

Mazars also significantly cut down on trainee numbers. It isn’t all bad news, however. EY increased its recruitment of trainees by nearly 11%, KPMG by 8.5% and Smith Williamson a whooping 34.6%. The biggest Top 20 riser, however, was PKF UK. It took on 302 trainees in 2016 and 459 last year, a jump of 52%. In all, Accountancy recorded

19,120 trainees in the top 75 firms, but felt that there are clearly signs of the start of a slowdown in the recruitment of future accountants. The report also highlights the shift in recruitment patterns because of the apprenticeship levy and increasing regionalism, with firms focusing more of their resources away from the capital (see Careers briefs, page 29).

ACCA student reprimanded after binge Having their cake and eating it: award-winning college HTFT recently celebrated its fifth birthday at The Studio in Birmingham. And hey, who doesn’t like a cupcake?

IASB amendments to IAS 8 The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is proposing narrow-scope amendments to IAS 8 ‘Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors’. The standard sets out the criteria for selecting and changing accounting policies. Companies change accounting policy either as a result of new requirements in IFRS standards or when the change would provide better information for users of financial statements.

PwC defends fees PwC was paid £20m in fees for the first eight weeks of its liquidation of Carillion. However, the Big 4’s partners have told the Business Select Committee that the initial £3m weekly bill has now dropped to just £1.4m. The average hourly rate charge per staff member has been estimated at £360. At its height there were 257 staff on the job, but eight weeks in this had fallen to 112. It has also been reported that partner David Kelly has a personal hourly rate of £865! Ireland told to reduce tax Ireland needs to reduce its 12.5% corporation 8

Is a recruitment squeeze coming?

When a company changes an accounting policy, it is currently required to apply the new policy as if it had always applied this policy – unless this is not practicable. The IASB is proposing that in deciding how far back to go in applying a change in accounting policy that results from an agenda decision, a company will consider not only whether it is practicable but also the benefits to users and costs to the company of making the change.

tax to help ward off new threats from postBrexit Britain and the US to foreign direct investment (FDI), suggests Deloitte. In a submission to the Department of Finance, Deloitte said there were growing threats to the country’s attractiveness as a destination of FDI. It was felt that reducing the rate “would send a strong message that Ireland values FDI here and wants to ensure that international, and all, companies based in Ireland can continue to benefit from locating operations here”. Pressure mounts over KMPG files The accountancy watchdog has appointed lawyers Fieldfisher to ‘keep an eye’ on journalist Margot Gibbs’ appeal to win access to FRC documents and emails under the

A drunken night out that included the assault of two people, one of whom was a police officer, and trying to make off without paying a cab fare, has led to one ACCA PQ to be reprimanded and ordered to pay to pay costs of £2,000. ACCA PQ Clare Warren was convicted of four offences at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court and was given a conditional discharge for a period of six months. She contacted the ACCA soon after. Warren told the ACCA that she woke up in Brixton Police Station with no memory of the previous evening. She explained her actions were completely out of character and she felt very ashamed. Warren also said she was aware that such behaviour contravened ACCA’s code of ethics. Luckily, her employer stood by her and let her continue as an employee with them.

Freedom of Information Act. The case evolves around KPMG’s audit of HBOS. Gibbs wants to know how the FRC committee voted in 2013, when it decided not to investigate the auditor. It is believed that four of the auditor’s former partners were serving on the FRC’s conduct committee at the time, while another had previously advised KPMG. The tribunal is due to hear the case on 27 April. EY Absolute launched EY is working with Microsoft to help UK businesses improve the efficiency of their finance function through a new digital platform called EY Absolute. Powered by Microsoft Azure, the new platform aims to provide a range of core accounting and tax services. PQ Magazine May 2018

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PQ news

ZOE ROBINSON What’s the difference between a good and a bad joke timing? Back in 2011, Scott Golder and Michael Macy analysed 509 million tweets from 2.4 million users in 84 countries and discovered that people display similar patterns or rhythms to their moods. In the morning, people felt positive, engaged and hopeful. This goes down in the afternoon and picks up again in the evening. These changes are driven by your biological clock, which has an impact on your circadian rhythm. – a 24-hour internal clock in your brain, cycling between sleepiness and alertness. If this clock is disrupted the impact can be significant – think of jet lag. Circadian rhythms also affect how your brain operates and how you learn. For example, tasks that require a sharp mind and are analytical by nature are best undertaken during the morning. But if the problem is less analytical, requiring more insight and creativity then the afternoon is better. So what’s happening? It seems in the morning, as our body temperature rises, so do our energy levels. This allows our ‘inhibitory control’ to keep out distractions, but as the day goes on inhibitory control becomes less effective, allowing more insightful thoughts to emerge; it’s actually called the inspiration paradox. If you’d like to know more try a new book by Daniel H Pink called When: the Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing – probably best read in the afternoon. And if you struggled with the headline of this month’s column go back and try again! Zoe Robinson is Learning and Programmes Director at Kaplan Financial

Where’s the mark allocation? ACCA P7 sitters want to know why they are treated differently to international sitters. First-time sitters of the UK paper contacted PQ recently to ask why there was no break down of the marks in what is one of the toughest of all ACCA papers. LSBF’s Paul Merison confirmed that since the June 2013 sitting (he thinks) the UK stream paper of P7 has had a difference to the INT stream. However it only affects Q1, he pointed out. Merison said to counter this he deliberately makes UK students sit the INT stream during the revision phase so they

can see the typical marks split. He went as far as suggesting that sitting the UK stream of P7 is probably not a wise option, unless the student is pretty sure that they have a future career signing audit reports.

The ACCA ‘exam style’ for this paper confirms that for some questions the mark allocation will not be broken down between question requirements. The reasoning given is “to assess if candidates can gauge the importance of the matters they have to deal with in answering the requirements and allocate their time appropriately to those matters”. The ACCA also says that, in practice, combining mark allocations allows more flexibility in marking as marks are not capped for one particular issue, and this can be an advantage.

ACCA urged to publish March P1/P3 papers The call has come for the ACCA to publish the March P1 and P3 papers in full, as June will be the last sitting of these exams. A top tutor said that there is little benefit to students in publishing the March/June exam paper sample questions after the June sitting, as both papers will be ‘dead’ at that point. With just one sitting left for P1 and P3 (June) this would “actually do something to help sitters at the last ever sitting”, said the tutor. So, come on ACCA – do the right thing…

Mapping a digital future: this year’s CIPFA student conference takes place in Bournemouth on 11 July and is free to attend for both CIPFA and CIMA PQs. See:

Gender pay gap: how are the firms doing? TOP 10 ACCOUNTANCY FIRMS PwC – 34.4% Deloitte – 12.1% KPMG – 22.1% Ernst & Young – 14.8% Grant Thornton – 24.3% BDO – 21.2% Mazars – 2.9% Moore Stephens – 19.3% RSM – 16.7%

Smith & Williamson – 15.3% • The national average is 18.4%. These figures are from the BBC gender pay calculator. See page 13 for the full breakdown of the Big 4.

Free webinars Sunil Bhandari and Mustafa Muchhala, who have over 50 years of training experience between them, are running free ACCA exam and study skills webinars this month. Looking to the June exams you can get top-flight advice on F5, F9, P4 and P5. The first webinar takes place on 18 April. Places are limited so sign up today at

In brief Ex Carillion FDs investigated The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has started an investigation into the conduct of Richard Adam and Zafar Khan, former group finance directors of Carillion. The FRC is looking at the preparation and approval of the financial statements of Carillion for the years ended 31 December 2014, 2015 and 2016, and the six months ended 30 June 2017, and the preparation and reporting of other financial information during the period 2014 to 2017. Both are 10

members of the ICAEW. The FRC announced an investigation under the Audit Enforcement Procedure into the audit of the financial statements of Carillion by KPMG on 29 January 2018. ‘F5 ‘toughest March test’ What were the hardest exams in March for ACCA students, according to the Open Tuition survey? Well, sitters think it was a close call between F9, F5 and P6 when it came to a ‘disaster’ sitting. Add in those who thought the exam

was ‘hard’ and there is a clear winner – F5. At the opposite end were F8, P6, P4 and P5, where sitters felt these were mostly ‘OK’. Even P1 was deemed a fair test this time around. See page 18 for what sitters thought of the papers. Looking after yourself Here’s some top tips on how to look after yourself when you are studying: • Drink at least 1.2 litres of water a day. • Avoid sugar highs.

• Keep active – aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week. • Don’t skip meals. • Eat ‘foods for thought’ – fish, eggs, wholegrain cereals with fruit and dairy, and berries. Did you know that Lutein, which is in egg yolks is found in the brain, and studies suggest people with high levels may be able to process information more effectively. PQ Magazine May 2018

PQ one-day conference

Future-proof your career PQ magazine has joined forces with top college LSBF to host a one-day conference looking at how you can ensure career success in a global world


he next generation of financial professional understands that they need to see their careers in a global context. A recent report from the ACCA, ‘Generation Next’, found these younger accountants see the value of international experience and recognise the career benefits that exposure to globalisation brings. Constant innovation and the pace of change have created a ‘new normal’. And globalisation and digitalisation are the big influencers for the immediate future. So how is the accountancy profession and its qualifications placed to help you future-proof your career? Well, this is where PQ magazine and LSBF come in.

Our free one-day London conference on 11 June will give you a unique insight into what the future might hold. We have put together a top team of

speakers, including CIMA’s Dr Noel Tagoe and the ACCA’s director of professional insights, Maggie McGhee. There will also be the head of financial recruitment at Pro-Group, Tom Eagle, on hand to provide a reality check on what is possible. After lunch we will look at how you can put together your own road map to success and give the accountancy bodies the chance to pitch their qualifications. Then we will talk about the changing nature of apprenticeships, particularly the higher apprenticeships for graduates. Oh, and don’t forget it will be a great chance to network. You really need to put Monday 11 June in your diary. We are using the London Bloomsbury campus at the University of Law, which is a quick walk from Goodge Street, Tottenham Court Road and Warren Street tube stations. There really is a something for everyone at ‘Being Global: future-proof your career in accountancy’. To sign up you need to go to The PQ team would love to see you there! See page 32 for more details. PQ

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


PQ Magazine May 2018

Big 4 pay gap PQ


ll the Big 4 firms, along with everyone else with more than 250 employees, now have to release their pay gap figures. They have, of course, been publishing these figures for several years now, but for the first time they have had to include partners’ pay, too. As KPMG’s Bill Michael says, if firms are to ‘get real’ about diversity they can’t do this without transparent data. The problem is that the gender and BAME pay gaps don’t make pretty reading. But don’t take our word for it; Michael admits they are ‘not acceptable’. And there appears to be no quick fixes either, according to PwC’s Laura Hinton. The basic truth is that there are simply not enough women or Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) accountants at the senior levels of these organisations. But we thought we should let the Big 4 explain their figures for themselves. PwC’s gender and ethnic minority pay gaps are due to underrepresentation in senior roles and not pay inequality, says the firm. It explained its updated pay gap stats now combine the total earnings of all employees, including partners, and reveal a mean gender gap of 43.8% and a median gap of 18.7%. The BAME pay gap for all staff is 35.9%, with the median gap coming in at 11.7%. Under the government’s methodology, which came into force in April 2017, PwC’s mean gender pay gap is 13.7% and mean bonus gap is 37.5%. PwC’s senior partner, Kevin Ellis, said: “The increase in our gender and BAME pay gaps when partners are included highlights our need for more women and ethnic minorities in senior positions, including within the partnership.” He wanted to make it clear that PwC pays its women and men equally for doing the same/or equivalent jobs across the business. The issue for him is one of senior representation rather than pay inequality. PwC’s chief people officer, Laura Hinton, admitted there are no quick fixes to eliminate pay gaps. There is now senior level accountability to build a strong and diverse talent pipeline, driving fair allocation of work and opportunities. Based on regular earnings, when partner pay is included, EY’s gender pay gap figures are a PQ Magazine May 2018

Closing the

pay gap

Lily Hambly

The Big 4 firms recently released new pay gap figures that included partners for the first time. So, how do they look?

median of 19.5% and mean of 38.1%. The gender pay gap among the UK partnership is 19.8% on a median basis and 14.6% on a mean basis. EY’s ethnicity pay gap figures, when partner pay is included, are a median of 15.1% and mean of 38.1%, again based on regular earnings. The ethnicity pay gap among the UK partnership is 19.8% on a median basis and 14.6% on a mean basis. EY’s UK chairman, Steve Vardy, stressed that the pay gap legislation is more than a compliance issue for the firm. In 2013, EY was the first of the Big 4 firms to set public targets to have at least 30% female and 10% BAME representation in its new partner intake, measured on a three-year rolling period. In 2017, those figures stand at 28% and 11% respectively. Nearly 40% of EY’s UK LLP board are women and 6% are BME. Over at Deloitte, the mean equity partner gender pay gap is 13.78%. Looking at all staff, and again including partners in this equation, Deloitte has calculated its gender earnings gap as a mean of 43.2% and a medium of 15.2%. Deloitte’s managing partner of talent, Emma

Codd, said: “These calculations again serve as a stark reminder that we don’t have enough women in senior roles – this is not about unequal pay but the shape of the firm.” She went on: “We are now recruiting more women at both student and experienced hire level and are seeing a significant increase in the number of women choosing to stay with us at the points when we previously saw increased attrition for them. and the proportion of our partners who are female has increased from 12% in 2012 to 19% in 2017 against a published target of 25% by 2020, which we remain committed to meeting.” Finally, KPMG’s figures show a 14% median and 34% mean gender gap for the firm, and 14% median and 9% mean gender gap at partner level. The firm first published its employee ethnicity pay gap in December 2017, which was 11.7% (median) and 13.9% (mean). KPMG’s UK chairman, Bill Michael, said: “We have to get real about diversity and we cannot do this without transparency data.” He felt the current pay gap was ‘unacceptable’ and emphasised that the firm has a long way to go in this area. PQ 13

PQ ICAEW spotlight

The social network The ICAEW’s student societies are thriving – so why not get involved?


hen you sign up as an ACA student you are automatically enrolled in your local ICAEW student society or student network. They offer events and activities throughout the year, including helpful ACA revision groups and skills-based seminars, but in addition they organise social events to give you the opportunity to meet your fellow ACAs from a wide range of industries and organisations. Run by students for students, getting involved with your local student society can offer more than simply networking, it’s about creating a network of support. As Wei Xin Neo, student president of the Singapore society, said: “A student society is important as it promotes a sense of collaboration and belonging among those pursuing the ACA, and to help them feel that they never have to take this journey alone.” Taking part in your local society’s events could include anything from kayaking trips and curry nights to pub quizzes and presenting skills workshops. Even SWECASS (the South West of England Chartered Accountants Student Society), whose members come from an area covering over 160 miles, overcome the distance to bring ACA students together. “It has been difficult in our society because it is so spread out geographically,” said Jackie Oddy, chair of

SWECASS. “But we have run some amazing events.” However, student societies aren’t all laser-tag tournaments and study sessions. For Noor

Karim, vice-chair of the Middle East student committee, the society also provides an important voice for students. “They can share their concerns and resolve any issues that they may face in their studies, training contracts or professional development,” he says. “It is also a vital source of input and feedback through which ICAEW students can shape the strategic direction of ICAEW.” Regardless of the size of the organisation that you work for, ICAEW student societies and networks are available for all ACA students to access. As an alternative source of support, socialising and development throughout your training, the positive effects of being part of your local student society can be felt long after your training ends, as ICAEW’s student relationship executive, Mauro Lucrino points out. “You can enhance knowledge and network with other students, helping you build lifelong contacts and the skills to help fulfil your future career aspirations.” With student societies and groups available across the globe, from Southampton to Singapore, geography shouldn’t be an issue if you want to meet up and take advantage of the benefits they can offer. If there isn’t one near you, why not get involved and set up one for the students in your region? For more information on your local student society, or details of how to start your own, visit PQ • Reproduced with the permission of ICAEW, adapted from an article first published in Vital (April 2018).

A leading qualification for a changing world The role of the professional accountant is becoming more important than ever. That’s why we’re evolving the ACCA Qualification to keep it current and maximise your employability to give you the professional edge in a changing world. Key changes include:

Session CBEs Available now

Ethics and Professional Skills module Available now

Strategic Professional Changes coming in 2018

Find out what this means for you:


PQ Magazine May 2018

ACCA spotlight PQ

Cryptocurrencies: so what do you know? B

itcoin, Ripple, Ethereum and Peercoin are just some of the cryptocurrencies we have all become familiar with in recent times. And while digital currencies continue to hijack the news agenda, ACCA is calling on its members and future members to keep abreast of the fast-moving developments and understand the risks in this space. There are growing concerns that cryptocurrencies are fuelling financial fraud worldwide, specifically money laundering. This was one of the reasons cryptocurrency dominated the agenda at last month’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires, although members were not on the same page when it came to enforcing regulation. Investors were able to breathe a sigh of relief when Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, announced to the G20 global leaders that tighter regulation was not an immediate priority, although the option of a future regulatory structure remains. In the past few months, there have been examples of governments and regulatory actions to tackle issues surrounding cryptocurrencies. Recently, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a licence to one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the US, Coinbase. Additionally, both Facebook and Google have vowed to shutdown advertisements for cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings on their sites. The perceived need for new regulation acknowledges blockchain and cryptocurrencies are important and have great potential to be used in a positive way, but it also highlights that criminal activity must be addressed… and that’s where professional accountants come in! The global accountancy profession has an important role to play in enabling stable economies where consumers are not exploited. As new technologies become adopted, it is vital that professional accountants develop their digital understanding alongside their ethical responsibilities to flag areas of concern.

Risks in a digital age Cryptocurrencies differ from traditional currencies in that their supply is not controlled by a national government. They generally operate on a digital peerPQ Magazine May 2018

Accountancy professionals need to better understand cryptocurrencies, says Narayanan Vaidyanathan to-peer basis with encryption tools being used to ensure that payments occur correctly between the designated source and recipient. Bitcoin, for example, has at least three dimensions that are causes for concern. Its pseudonymous nature means while one may identify the address a payment goes to, it is still not possible to confirm the identity of the beneficiary. This is an obvious risk for money laundering, terrorist financing and the funding of other types of illegal activities. Secondly, bitcoin’s high volatility makes it inherently risky and unstable. Thirdly, it is funding a speculative bubble in other areas like Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) with investors chasing poorly formed business propositions. The underlying blockchain (distributed ledger) technology behind Bitcoin could revolutionise how financial transactions are done and have a positive impact on business globally. This potential must be viewed separately from the risks of Bitcoin. Professional accountants can play a key role by ensuring they develop their knowledge and skills necessary to understand this emerging area.

ICOs Innovation is crucial to the long-term success of a business and ICOs are a useful way of funding blockchain based innovation. An ICO investment is made via a cryptocurrency and investors get coins (tokens) instead of shares and therefore, a number of ICOs fall outside existing securities regulation. ICOs have become popular, because businesses can obtain new funding with less complexity and greater speed than traditional methods. However, high short-term gains in using ICOs might look appealing to investors, but it’s easy to fall victim to a scam and for the investment to be lost. In our recent report ‘ICOs: real deal or token gesture?’ ACCA called for the need to balance risk and innovation as blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies mature and enter the mainstream. Regulators from around the world have adopted various approaches to curb threats posed by investments in ICOs and focus on the two headline features of protection for unsophisticated participants, and whether an ICO qualifies as a security with the associated regulatory controls. In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission has identified certain ICOs, which are not acceptable and has put a stop to their fundraising, while others like South Korea and China have banned ICOs outright. ACCA supports a close relationship between regulators and the accountancy profession to ensure that a robust, fair regulatory approach is crafted, and refined as developments emerge, so that it is fit-for-purpose in a digital age. Now is the time for professional accountants to be aware of the developments surrounding digital currencies and distributed ledger technologies as they have a real potential to be a disruptor of the finance function. There is an big opportunity for accountants across the board to guide organisations by staying on top of regulatory announcements in their jurisdictions, and more generally to bring their training in risk, compliance and governance, along with their ethical compass, to this emerging area. PQ • Narayanan Vaidyanathan is head of business insights at ACCA 15

PQ ACCA exams

What did you think? Here’s our paper-by-paper guide to the March sitting, courtesy of those who sat the exam! F5 This one was deemed a hard paper, with very detailed questions in both section A and B. One student claimed the March CBE format was “x10 harder than the paper-based December exam” – that’s quite a lot harder! Many sitters agreed that at this sitting the F5 CBEs were tougher, and much more challenging than any practice OT question bank. Students were ‘disappointed’ that it was so tough. Some PQs also felt F5 was too big a jump from F4. There are also stories of frozen screens and of sitters having to change stations, which only added to the pressure. There also appears to have been problems at quite a few venues. A PQ sitting at Kensington & Chelsea College in London claimed that students started playing drum and bass music on the floor above them during the exam. One sitter said: “The discussion questions were really impossible to think through because of the noise.” Another student said they were forced to wait 40 minutes in front of their computer screen before they were able to start the exam. Then there were the students, who went to three rooms before they were sat at their computers. Oh, and there was a busker outside the Newcastle exam centre, too. ACCA earplugs for all! F6 ‘Moderately OK’, with some ‘tricky’ and ‘rather hard’ MCQs, is the general feedback here. The lack of a question on basis periods and partnerships surprised some. But students sit different papers, so other students got a basis period MCQ! One PQ reiterated the point that you definitely can’t pass this paper if you haven’t covered the WHOLE syllabus. F7 CBE sitters have finally begun to realise that they no longer sit the same exams! Having an easy online discussion does become more problematic. You are always searching for someone who had the same ‘experience’ as you. Overall, the verdict was that this was a toughie. There was also a worry from a ‘paper-based’ student that taking CBE exams might make the paper harder. Another student reassured them that the answer to that question is ‘no’. In fact, the CBE sitter said the exams were easier and liked the questions always being there on the left hand side of the screen. They also loved the spreadsheet application, and using cells mean 18

making changes was also easier. Some PQs said they were taken aback when they saw the disposal of a subsidiary with group accounts question. They were sure their ‘approved’ texts said a 20-mark question like this wouldn’t appear! F8 Sitters really loved this one! It was described as ‘easy’ and even ‘great’. Many students also admitted they had finished the exam with lots of time over, a rarity indeed. For some sitting the CBE exams it wasn’t so straightforward, and we heard from a few students whose computer screens froze. “I had to be moved to another room,” explained one. Another student on Open Tuition’s noticeboard summed up what many thought: “Great exam, finished with one hour to spare – no surprises, everything was asked as expected.” F9 Those who got it were surprised with the joint probabilities question. “I was not expecting that!” said one sitter. A ‘real shock’ said another. Overall, it was felt section A & B was fine, but section C was much tougher. And a lot tougher than the test in December 2017! The Islamic finance question in section C was deemed ‘tricky’ by some, too. P1 A fair paper, but you needed to use all your time management skills again. Risk was a big part of the March test. One student said six of the technical articles got tested this time around, so it really does pay off to read these, obviously. That’s the ones on transactional cost theory, CER ethical dilemmas, the AAA model, risk (dynamic, assessment, purpose of risk committee), and independence and NEDs. “Thank God I read them just before the exam,” they stressed. Another student said they had a giggle to themselves (not something that happens a lot in P1 exams) when they realised Q4 was all about Brexit. The UK was called LaLand, which suggested to this sitter that the examiner wanted to call it LalaLand! P2 A ‘dry’ part B, and pretty tough exam all round, was the general consensus. “I have never seen a section B like this ever before…!!!”, said one student on Open Tuition. For this sitter section B was a disaster. Students wondered how there

could be two exchange rates in the same country. “Where is this country?” one asked. Students felt the examiner tested almost all the standards. That said, there seemed a lot in the exam about IFRS5 and not so much about IFRS 9. One student put it: “P2 was a disaster!” Another said they were just “very disappointed”. P3 The worry from some sitters here was the fact that the paper seemed to concentrate on just a small part of the syllabus. Another student was worried that not a thing predicted came up! That said it has felt to be a ‘fair paper’, if a bit long. Q1 was hard, too.

P4 A fair P4 paper this time around, said one sitter. Time management the only ‘issue’. Students admitted to wasting their own time going down blind alleys. As another PQ said: “Bad time planning again, I can’t get used to the strict time allocation and this was my third attempt.” It meant many didn’t complete the whole exam, which makes it so much harder to pass. Candidates loved Q4 though. P5 Students asked the examiner for more time again. However, some admitted that this might be because they spent too long on Q1! “It’s the bloody time pressure,” said a sitter. There is just too much to read, they explained. Some questions were also deemed ‘very vague’. One hapless student said: “The likelihood is most of us will have failed.” But then that is often the case. What upset another PQ was the fact that they were good at performance management at university, but “this paper sucks”. P6 ‘OK’ is the general line from those leaving the P6 exam. As one Open Tuition student said: “There were a few tricky parts, as you would expect, however overall there was a good range of questions and nothing horrible.” But they were “wreck mentally after that”. We also loved the other comment on OT noticeboard from another student who said: “I feel sizzled after that!” P7 We loved the fact that one PQ said this was “not an evil paper”. That still didn’t mean many didn’t suffer from the time pressures, that is so evident in many comments. Most sitters felt the exam itself was OK, it is just the time pressure they can’t cope with. As one PQ put it: “I can’t write any faster.” Another explained: “The time pressure will cost me dear.” Again, candidates admitted they forgot basic exam technique and spent too long on trying to get the right answer to Q1. One sitter admitted to having only one hour 20 minutes to answer three questions! PQ PQ Magazine May 2018



arch 2018 was the first ACCA exam sitting where all ACCA F5-F9 papers sat in the UK were via computer-based exams (CBE). Those who had sat F1-F4 in the CBE format were familiar with the shorter ‘objective test’ (OT) question styles. However, the F5-F9 papers also included the longer ‘constructed response’ questions, with a wordprocessing box and a spreadsheet to answer in. While the syllabus remained broadly unchanged for each paper, some students in March struggled with the adjustment to the new exam format as they didn’t invest enough time practising using the software well ahead of the exam. My tips should help you to get ready for your CBEs in June. The format of the exam may have changed, but the same basic exam techniques always apply.

Preparation is the

key to success Andrew Mower offers five top tips on how you can get through the CBEs

Just keep going If you can’t find a number early on in a calculation, don’t stop the whole question – just make a number up and carry on. You will still get plenty of method marks. Manage your time carefully Don’t allow yourself to spend too long on one question. It is a good idea to write down the timings for each question or section if this helps. Make it easy for the marker Clearly label which question you are attempting, and leave spaces between paragraphs in your long written answers. As well as good general exam technique, it is important that you are prepared for the new format of exam questions. Here are five top tutor tips relating to the ACCA CBEs: 1. Get familiar with the software: Within the longer ‘constructed response’ questions in section C, calculations must be entered into a spreadsheet. Theory questions require answers to be entered into a text box. The functionality of the spreadsheet is slightly different from traditional spreadsheet software programs such as Microsoft Excel. Ensure you have practiced using the constructed response software, and complete the specimen exams, which are available at

PQ Magazine May 2018

2. Keep your workings clear: Markers can see formulae that you’ve entered into a cell, but you should still label the calculation you’re doing and clearly display workings. 3. ‘Actively read’ the questions: In the constructed response questions in the actual exam (but not the specimen papers), you will have the ability to highlight parts of the requirement, and also strike through any parts that you’ve dealt with. Use this functionality to your advantage. 4) Attempt the easy questions first: As you work through the OT questions, you will notice that some will take longer than others. Attempt the easy questions first. If you see a question that is difficult or time consuming, leave it or flag it for review and then come back to it later. Also apply the same technique to the

constructed response questions – attempt the easiest parts of the questions first, and leave the harder sections for later. 5. Be aware of the 10 ‘seeded marks’: The F5-F9 exams will be three hours 20 minutes long, during which time you will have to complete 110 marks. For quality assurance purposes, 10 marks of these will not contribute towards your result. These extra questions will be in section A or B, but you won’t know which marks will be taken out. Overall, these changes should make it easier for you to score well. It is, however, still important to do the ACCA specimen exams and get used to the style before you sit your first CBE. PQ • Andrew Mower is a tutor at Kaplan. He is PQ’s current Lecturer of the Year and is featured in our ‘Life at…’ section on page 29


PQ profile

How to be our PQ of the Year We spoke to our recently crowned PQ of the Year, Tyson Nsimbe, about what makes him tick Why accountancy and why ACCA? Accountancy equals relevance – every business needs an accountant. Problem solver, solutionist, accountant, project manager, consultant – accountancy gives me superpowers to support the dreams and aspirations of family and friends, as well as improve my local community by sharing my expertise and experience. ACCA is the platform/training ground where I have developed these super powers to one day move the world. How have you found the exams? Any tips for studying? Exams are incredibly tough. I won’t beat about the bush. Working full time and studying is mind blowing and regularly comes with post-exam stress disorder (I often find myself thinking I need to revise after an exam). On a positive note, with the assistance of BPP, Open Tuition and The ExP Group I have found a system of knowledge whereby I can compare workings and computation, extract knowledge and question more – learn in my own way. My top exam tips are: • To do the homework set by your tutors. • Go through at least three past exam samples via ACCA. • Accept you’re a human being, there is only so much you can do. Do not worry if you haven’t covered absolutely everything – just do what you can in terms of revision and reading. • Manage your time during your exam – 1.8 minutes per mark and move on. Like many accountancy professionals you have a full-time job. How do you find balancing work/study/life? Speaking honestly, I don’t. I put work first, life second and study last. Saying that, I do turn up to every lesson, read my quota of extra online lectures, ask my tutors questions I have pending, attend mock exam day and smash every exam. Maybe my method is what some may describe as ‘YOLO’, but I guess it works. In the accounting or finance profession 20

one must accept 9-5 is a myth and that working additional hours on occasion becomes the norm. I probably work in the region of 50+ hours a week – but I do ensure to leave on time at least a few times a week to spend time with family, for my extracurricular commitments, mentoring and friends. It’s important to me to remember where I am and where I came from and I do dedicate a lot of time outside of work to disadvantaged students – regardless of where you have come from, you can become anything you want to be if you work smart and focus on positive expectation of good. Tell us a bit about your role at FairFX. My main functions are:


Job title: Accountant/solutionist. First job: Before university, paperboy. After university, financial analyst What are you reading: Civil War by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. And every day the first three pages of CITY AM. Last CD bought/downloaded: Now That’s What I Call Music! 99 When was the last time you laughed out loud? This bank holiday weekend, my brother’s birthday was banter fuelled entertainment and excitement. How do you chill out? With Netflix, Amazon Video and Cinema. I have a cinema club with friends and family. I also enjoy playing football.

• Maintain integrity of the general ledger. • Perform month end activities including balance sheet reconciliations. • Daily bank reconciliations – over 100 bank accounts. • Investigating unusual transactions and proposing solutions. • Journal entries. • Develop improved processes, procedures and controls. • Assist the payments team when required. • Assist with management of accounts payable and accounts receivable. • Assist with the preparation for interim and year-end financial statements. • Assist with year-end audits. • Ad hoc project work, business plans and systems development. • Liaise with banks, suppliers, HMRC and international tax authorities. • Conduct training and education programmes. • Review, analyse and implement into procedures and business practices, applicable rules and regulations affecting the company. • On-board customers in line with the firm’s customer due diligence (CDD) necessities. • Keep up-to-date with, and understand, relevant laws and regulations. • Highlight or escalate areas of concern. • Contribute to robust and effective compliance controls within the organisation. • Report directly to CEO, CFO, COO and CCO as well as Financial Controller. Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? I hope to be with FairFX, managing a team of Tysonly trained geniuses taking finance, compliance and risk to the next level. I’d like to join the C-suite one day. What has it been like being our PQ of the Year? Being PQ of the Year is a tremendous achievement. I am still overwhelmed and humbled by this award. I know somewhere in the stars Mum is looking down on me and smiling – she never made excuses in life, she just got on with the job as I do myself and I am privileged to have won this award. Being up against such talented, wonderful and deserving candidates, it is truly an honour. I was surprised to have won as I haven’t won many awards in my life. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received? If you have a problem, share it. A problem shared, is a problem halved. Grandma Chinwe told me that a job is just a job. Do not get attached to your job – never lose sight of your dreams. My Big Sister told me that the most valuable gift you can give anyone is your time. Spend it wisely. And Mummy told me to take pride in my work. PQ PQ Magazine May 2018



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PQ AAT exams

AAT RESULTS Detailed in the table below are the worldwide success rates for computer based assessments (CBA) for the 12 months ending 31 December 2017. The table includes the final success rates for AQ2013 assessments AQ2013 & SHORT QUALIFICATIONS CBA SUCCESS RATES – YEAR ENDING 31 DECEMBER 2017 Level/Assessment name Short Code Worldwide 1 Access AA 92.7% 1 Bookkeeping and Accounts BKAC 87.1% 1 Computerised accounts COPA 91.9% 1 Computerised Payroll Administration CPYA 83.8% 1 Spreadsheets software SPRS 91.1% 2 Accounting skills to run your business ASYB 68.3% 2 Basic costing BCST 94.9% 2 Control accounts, journals and the banking system CJBS 74.8% 2 Computerised accounting CPAG 88.5% 2 Processing bookkeeping transactions PBKT 81.5% 2 Work effectively in accounting and finance WKAF 94.7% 3 Accounts preparation ACPR 53.0% 3 Costs and revenues CSTR 79.9% 3 Prepare final accounts for sole traders and partnerships FSTP 79.3% 3 Indirect tax ITAX 78.9% 3 Professional ethics PETH 61.6% 3 Spreadsheet software SDST 88.0% 4 Budgeting BDGT 67.8% 4 Business tax BTAX 59.8% 4 Credit control CRDC 77.2% 4 Cash management CSHM 52.8% 4 External auditing EXTA 64.8% 4 Financial performance FPFM 53.1% 4 Financial statements FSTM 55.1% 4 Internal controls and accounting systems ISYS 90.7% 4 Personal tax PTAX 50.3%



Short code


Foundation Foundation

Bookkeeping Controls Business Communications, Personal and Learning Skills





Foundation Foundation Foundation Foundation

Bookkeeping Transactions Elements of Costing Foundation Synoptic Assessment Introduction to Business and Company Law


90.6% 92.8% 87.0%



Foundation Foundation Advanced Advanced

Introduction to Payroll Using Accounting Software Advanced Bookkeeping Advanced Diploma Synoptic Assessment


88.5% 81.3% 61.0%



Advanced Advanced Advanced Professional Professional Professional Professional Professional

Final Accounts Preparation Indirect Tax Management Accounting: Costing Business Tax Credit Management Cash and Treasury Management External Auditing Financial Statements of Limited Companies


74.1% 76.1% 80.2% 70.7% 61.1% 41.4% 75.4%



Professional Professional

Management Accounting: Budgeting Management Accounting: Decision and Control






Professional Diploma Synoptic Assessment




Personal Tax



Detailed in the table above are the worldwide success rates for computer based assessments (CBA) for the 12 months ending 31 December 2017. The next report for the year-ending 30 June 2018 will be published at the end of September 2018.

PQ company rules

PSCs: a question of control What is a PSC and how does it work? Here’s what Companies House has to say...


person with significant control (PSC) is someone who owns or controls a company. They are sometimes called ‘beneficial owners’. Every company must identify their PSC and tell Companies House who they are. A company can, of course, have more than one PSC. A company must record the PSC’s details on the register and send it to Companies House. A PSC must meet one or more of the following conditions of control. Most PSCs are likely to be people who hold: • More than 25% of shares in the company. • More than 25% of voting right in the company. • The right to appoint or remove the majority of board of directors. If the PSC holds more than 25% of shares, 22

they are likely to hold the same amount of voting rights. A PSC may influence and control a company thorough other means. This could be directly or on behalf of someone else. If a trust or firm influences or controls a company then the owners must decide if they meet any conditions of control. If they do, any person who controls the trust or firm is a PSC of the company. Certain details of the PSC need to be recorded on the register: • Name. • DoB. • Nationality. • Country of residence. • Service address. • Usual residential address (not displayed to the public).

• The date they became a PSC of the company. • The date they were entered into the PSC register. • Which conditions of control were met. The level of shares and voting rights must also be registered, within the following categories: • Over 25% up to (and including) 50%. • More than 50% and less than 75%. • 75% or more. A company is obliged to identify and contact anyone they think may be a PSC. If they refuse to provide PSC information they will be committing a criminal offence. You can place restrictions on the shares or voting right for someone who won’t give you this information. However, applying restrictions is a significant step and you should only consider this if they repeatedly refuse the request. All PSC information is available to the public, apart from their home address. The actual date is also hidden on their date of birth, with just the month and the year given. In exceptional cases, some individuals can apply to protect their PSC information. PQ PQ Magazine May 2018

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PQ CIPFA spotlight

Tech driving change Joana Sales explains how the institute is embracing digital to improve the learning experience for its trainees

people, all with expert knowledge in public finance and accountancy. The platform itself is based on Moodle (or if you want the full jargon, a modular object-oriented dynamic learning environment), which is optimised across multiple devices, so students can use their desktop, tablets or smartphones. This system is underpinned by Bruner’s constructivist pedagogical theory – that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current and past knowledge. For example, we utilised online discussion forums to create opportunities for greater support, interaction and collaborative construction of content between the tutors and students as well as opportunities for students to learn and connect with a wider network of peers from different backgrounds and locations in the UK and abroad.


tep away from the office and most of us have become fairly fluent with new technology. It’s no stretch to imagine that most of us now have smartphones, that our days are facilitated by numerous apps and that we all communicate in a myriad of different ways across many different platforms. But, of course, professional life tends to be slower on the uptake. Across the public sector, most of us need to get smarter in terms of harnessing technology. Financial constraints and increasing service demands mean each pound has to work that much harder. And so we should be exploring any opportunities where services might be improved and made more efficient through digital. Increasingly, CIPFA is exploring these opportunities with its members. The institute’s current president, Andy Burns, has long championed improving digital adoption across the public finance profession. He will be discussing this in more detail at CIPFA’s annual conference in July. It is also important that CIPFA practises what it preaches, by which I mean it innovates and adapts to new technology across its activities. One example of this is its virtual learning environment, CIPFA Learning. The world of educational and learning technologies is changing fast and it’s reshaping the way students learn and educators and trainers teach. The learning environment has moved beyond the ‘bricks and mortar’, with learning becoming more interactive and social, and educators becoming more like facilitators. Existing approaches to education and training tend to rely on face-to-face training, where learning has to happen at

a set time and space. This is the traditional learning environment, one that still has an important role to play. But in today’s increasingly global world it is also one with limitations in terms of choice and flexibility. CIPFA Learning was designed to ensure CIPFA’s education and training programmes meet the changing expectation of accessibility and conversion to e-learning format. What is CIPFA Learning? CIPFA Learning is a virtual space, where students have access to tools and resources when they need them and can shape their training around a schedule that suits them. It was developed inhouse by CIPFA’s team of learning designers, technologists and experienced trainers. So while it is virtual, and students can choose when and where they learn, at the heart of it are real

Number of options With CIPFA Learning, today’s PQ trainees can choose from a number of different study options. The familiar in-classroom face-to-face sessions are still available and still highly popular. For those who find instructor-led training through live online lessons more practical and convenient, the platform enables a variety of web class courses and timetables to choose from. While students who want the option to study on their own and follow a more self-determined programme can do so, with the wealth of resources provided. Just with any adoption of technology this is start of a journey, not the final thing. Moving forward, it’s vital that we adapt and improve where we can. This includes user feedback as much as internal testing. It’s been our plan from the outset that we make sure CIPFA Learning, like all CIPFA’s training approaches, is a collaborative undertaking. PQ • Joana Sales is Head of Learning at CIPFA

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PQ Magazine May 2018

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PQ overheads

Get the numbers right Philip Dunn explains under or over-recovery of overheads – apprentice assistant accountants please take note!


rainee accounting apprentices preparing for on-programme assessment in the Assistant Accountant Apprenticeship need to develop competence in the calculation of appropriate overhead absorption rates for cost centres. Then they must demonstrate how overhead is recovered and is compared with the actual overhead incurred to determine whether it is under or over-recovered in the accounting period. This procedure is best illustrated by the use of the following mini-case study: Richard Noble is an Agricultural Engineer operating in North Yorkshire. He has three operating cost centres: • Machining. • Servicing. • Mobile unit (he provides a mobile service to farms over a wide area). His planned (budgeted) overhead and levels of activity in each cost centre for 2017 were: COST CENTRE Overhead Machine hours Direct labour hours

MACHINING £72000 6000





Overhead absorption/ recover rate Per machine hour Per Direct Labour hour

Cost Centre

£12 £10.50

The machining cost centre is machine intensive whereas the servicing and mobile unit are direct labour intensive. Thus two basis of absorption are illustrated here: per machine hour and per direct labour hour. As a significant portion of total overhead comprises fixed cost it is essential that a business achieves at least its budgeted level of activity in the short run, so that such costs are recovered fully (assuming also that expenditure is tightly controlled). The following was the volume of activity and overhead cost incurred (actual) during 2017: COST CENTRE Machine hours Direct labour hours Overhead incurred

MACHINING 6550 £72500



8200 £84300

1850 £32500

We now need to consider the amount of overhead recovered/absorbed in the period. Overhead absorbed/recovered £ 78600 86310 29138 £194,048 (* actual activity in hours x pre-determined recovery rate)

Machining Servicing Mobile Unit

* 6550 8220 1850

x x x

* £12 £10.50 £15.75

Machining Servicing Mobile Unit


Absorbed/ Recovered £ 78600 86310 29138 £194048

Actual Overhead £ 72500 84300 32500 £189300

(Under) Over Recovered £ 6100 2010 (3362) £4748

These figures are then posted to the overhead control account for the period. DR Actual overhead Over-recovered costing profit & loss a/c

Overhead Control Account



Overhead absorbed/recovered 194048

4748 £194048


The over-recovery is transferred to the costing profit and loss account. The factors that clearly effect under/over-recovery of overhead can be seen in the above figures; although expenditure in both Machining and Servicing was greater than planned, the volume of activity actual increased overrecoveries were experienced here. However, in the case of the mobile unit both expenditure was greater than planned and the volume of activity was less than budget. Thus the two factors that affect the recovery of overhead are: • Volume/activity. PQ • Expenditure. • Dr Philip E Dunn is a freelance author and technical editor for Kaplan and Osborne Books

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PQ Magazine May 2018

ACCA F5 paper PQ


ver the past decade, ‘big data’ has transformed accounting. Firms are investing in advanced analytical tools to serve their clients better and companies are using datadriven decision making to achieve a boost in productivity and hence, greater profitability. As a result, the role of the management accountant has changed, in that they need the same skills but now in more depth. They need to ensure that information is brought together to inform decision making, to validate it and make it trustworthy. They need to develop working relationships with people in the business who need the data and have it presented and analysed. The management accountants need to see themselves as players on the team rather than reporters on the sideline. To prepare for this changing role, professional exams have evolved and test these analysis skills. At the ACCA Learning Providers’ conference last year, the examiner for F5 Performance Management stressed that future computer-based exams (CBEs) will expect students to analyse information using spreadsheets and give constructive advice. The exams are now more reflective of the real world in which systems calculate a lot of the numbers and the accountant acts in a more advisory capacity. Performance Management exams include questions asking students to assess the financial performance of the company using data that has already been prepared and presented in a dashboard or a report. This requires using word processing skills, using headings and bullet points to structure a plan for the answer. These skills are generally required in the workplace and it allows students to be more succinct in the answers they write without unnecessary waffle, which is a tendency in paper-based exams. This gives more focus to structuring the answer to the question that is set. Answers need to explain more than just ‘the profit has increased over the year’, but should discuss ‘why the profit has increased’. Students continue to perform poorly at questions on ratios and variance analysis interpretation so I have used an example that should help understand how to

PQ Magazine May 2018

Managing your performance

in a changing world Mustafa Muchhala explains how ACCA F5 Performance Management CBEs will test the analysis skills required of management accountants of the future

A sample student answer showing the marks that could be scored should help to understand how this requirement should be interpreted and answered. Planning the answer is critical, so: • Think about which variance/s is the production manager responsible for. • Use the numbers given and say what you see. • Talk about why the variances may have arisen. • Think about why it helps to split planning and operational variances. • Then conclude if the manager has performed well or not.

score the marks when answering such questions. Extract from a variance analysis question: Pine Co produces wooden furniture and one of its most popular products is the rocking chair. To improve the quality of the chair it was agreed by the management to purchase better quality wood at a higher cost than a standard set, while reducing the standard quantity of wood used due to less waste. Based on the information below, variances have been correctly calculated. Wood per Kg Wood per chair No. of chairs Variances Material Price Material Usage

Standard Revised Actual $9 $9.30 $9.50 4 kgs 3.8 kgs 3.85 kgs 15,000 15,000 14,000 Planning Operational $16,200 (A) $10,800 (A) $25,200 (F) $7,200 (A)

Assess the performance of the production manager (8 marks)

Solution: Assessing the performance of the production manager The production manager will be directly responsible for the material usage variance but not the material price variance (1 mark). The planning usage variance of $25,200(F) and the operational usage variance of $7,200(A) gives a total usage variance of $18,000(F) (1 mark) and if this is considered then the production manager has performed well (1 mark). The revision in the usage is due to better quality material being used which is reflected in the Material Usage Planning variance. As this was due to a change in the Co.’s strategy it is not controllable by the production manager (2 marks). However, the Material Usage Operational variance of $7,200(A) is controllable by the production manager. This could have been caused because the standard set was challenging to achieve or the new production process used more material than expected (2 marks). This would need to be investigated but overall, the production manager has PQ performed well (1 mark). • Mustafa Muchhala is a freelance professional tutor and writer


PQ CIMA spotlight

Know yourself


he Ancient Greek saying ‘know thyself’ (to obtain wisdom) is often attributed to Socrates. Whether that is correct or not, it is true that there is much to be gained in life, love and your CIMA studies by becoming more self-aware. Becoming self-aware will help you develop and grow, says Jackie Durham Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a great fan of personal SWOT (strengths, importantly, it requires you to be honest with weaknesses opportunities and threats) analysis. yourself. So ask questions reflecting on: You can use it to help assess and understand a • Your strengths and weaknesses: did you really variety of situations from the personal to the know and understand how to apply Porter’s Five professional. What makes it work effectively is Forces or, did you skim read that section in your self-reflection and self-awareness. textbook? Despite how abstract this all sounds, once you • Opportunity and threats: rather than practise get the hang of the SWOT process you the questions you found the hardest will be armed with a practical approach until you felt confident did you cross that will empower you to do better and your fingers and hope those topics To be aware be better. It will allow you to develop the wouldn’t come up? of a single sorts of skills that leaders and These questions and reflections shortcoming within successful business people need. For are a way to identify the obstacles oneself is more example, skills such as resilience, that are stopping you from going useful than to be empathy, emotional intelligence, and beyond and attaining success. In aware of a thousand insight into your own behaviours and addition, self-reflection will help you in somebody else that of others understand who you may need to aspirations. If done well it will usually force us to – Dalai Lama Let us look at some situations where ask for help or how you can help reshape our behaviours and general approach. SWOT analysis can help. yourself. And note: help from others Moreover, like many hard roads, it is one worth Scenario: You have just failed a CIMA does not just mean practical help – travelling – it could be the key to your success. exam for the second time and you are feeling it can also come in the form of feedback and To get you started on self-reflection, why not down. You think to yourself, “anyone can fail constructive criticism. try one of the many personality quizzes available once but my mark hasn’t improved much. Will I Developing self-awareness is not easy. In fact, these days. Here is a link to the Myers Briggs ever pass?” The answer is, of course, yes, but it can be very difficult because it requires deep one – I took this one you do need to reflect and understand where reflection and the bravery to assess one’s own and was amazed at how accurate the results you went wrong to improve next time around. character and experiences that have made us were… PQ Completing a SWOT can flag up where you the way we are. It forces honesty about • Jackie Durham, education and training might have done things differently. Most strengths and weaknesses, our motivations and consultant, CIMA

PQ enterprise

How to get your small business off the ground Darren Nicholls explains the ins and outs of running your business from your home I’m thinking about starting my own business but don’t have any office space. What do I need to consider if I run my business from home? When thinking about running a business from home you need to consider a number of factors. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the nature of your work needs to be suitable for home working: things that might be considered as inconveniences to neighbours, such as frequent deliveries or regular visits from customers, could cause problems. Secondly, if you are planning to run your business from your home, you may have to inform your mortgage provider, or your landlord (your tenancy agreement may prohibit running a business from home). You may also have to inform your local authority if you need planning permission to make alterations to your home such as building an extension, or are expecting increased traffic and visitors. 28

The next thing you will need to consider is insurance. A standard home insurance policy is unlikely to cover business activity, so you may need to take out an additional policy for loss or damage to office equipment. This could also include insuring any business cash you may keep at home, or public liability insurance if you will be welcoming clients

or customers into your home. If you run a business from home you will usually not have to pay business rates, particularly if you only use a small part of your home for the business or you are selling goods via post. You may need to pay business rates though, on top of council tax, if you convert part of your home to a shop or workshop, regularly have customers coming to the property, or have employees working there. You can find out about what the business rates might be by contacting the Valuation Office Agency, or if you live in Scotland by contacting your local assessor. If your home business starts to grow, you might consider taking on some extra staff. However, there are things you will need to consider. As well as finding out if it will affect whether you have to pay business rates you will also need to carry out health and safety risk assessments. In addition, you will also need to ensure you meet all employment law requirements, and have the right contracts for all your employees. PQ • Darren Nicholls is Product Manager for Informi, powered by AAT. Visit to find more practical advice and support for new businesses PQ Magazine May 2018

careers PQ

social media ROUND-UP It was great to see our NQ of the Year, Michael Scott, all over social media this month. He featured heavily on the ICAS website, although he almost didn’t come to our awards! Roanna, his wife, told him a few days before that she would have to stay at the family farm as the cows would be calving. PQ editor Graham Hambly said it was the best excuse he has ever heard for someone not making the awards. Scott (pictured) made the ‘difficult’ decision to leave her at home and said that the event was ‘quite dazzling’ and the setting of Café de Paris was ‘spectacular’.

He went on: “To be from a small town in Fife and attending a glamorous event in London among some of the best people and businesses in the accountancy industry was a little overwhelming, but it was an experience I enjoyed thoroughly and will remember for the rest of my career.” Thanks for that great endorsement, Michael. You can check out all the winners and Michael’s moment in the spotlight by viewing ‘PQ awards – the movie’ at eos/1779184072142498/ It was from twitter that we discovered there could be problems booking a CBE place for the ACCA June exams. One PQ told us: “My colleague has found this. Out of his three local centres only one day and one time available…” Do tell us if you had any problems. We also tweeted out about the latest Wes Anderson film. We nearly always find something accountancy related in everything we do! Surely a question at the next accountancy quiz you go to will be: What is the name of the accountant’s dog in Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’? Well, it’s one for the annual PQ quiz, anyway. The PQ team gave the film a four out of five. And the name of the dog? It’s Butterscotch! PQ Magazine May 2018

Life at Kaplan London Andrew Mower ACA is a tutor teaching ACCA, CIMA and ICAEW courses. He has worked for Kaplan for five years. He has a degree in chemistry from Imperial College London. He is the current PQ magazine private sector Lecturer of the Year What time does your alarm go off on a working day? My baby daughter usually wakes up around 6am – she’s my alarm clock. What’s the first thing you do when you get to your desk? Check my emails, then make a cup of tea. What’s on your desk? We hot desk, so not a lot. What’s the best thing about where you work? The people. There are some real characters at Kaplan, it makes it fun to go to work (even at the weekend!). Where’s your favourite place to go for lunch? As I tell my students, Borough High Street is full of great lunch places. I particularly like Nelson’s and Shrigley’s. What (or who) can you see when you sit at your desk? Usually another tutor. Which websites are your

favourites and why? for all the latest Luton Town news, Instagram for hundreds of baby pictures, and the DailyMash for a laugh. Which websites do you use for work? MyKaplan is excellent for communicating with students and seeing their progress. I also use the Kaplan Knowledge Bank for refreshing any topics I need to. How many hours a week do you spend in meetings? Very few. What time do you leave the office? If I’m just teaching then 4.45-5pm. If there’s an evening class, it’s nearer 9pm. How do you relax? I find running is a great way to relax. I also play and watch a lot of football.

What’s your favourite tipple? Real ale. How often do you take work home with you? I work from home when I’m not teaching, so quite a lot. Mainly it’s preparing classes and reading case studies. What is your favourite TV show? All time it’s Father Ted. Currently it’s Peaky Blinders. Summer or winter? Summer. Pub or club? Pub. Who is your hero? Rowan Atkinson. If you had a time machine, where would you go? Forward 100 years to see what technology has done to the world, and which league Luton are in. If you hadn’t chosen accountancy, where might you be right now? Probably doing scientific research in a lab.

Demand up ouside London Career opportunities for accountants outside London have increased by a whopping 27% between February 2016 and February 2018, as businesses increasingly look to relocate or expand outside of the capital. Market analysis by Global Accounting Network found that many back-office functions like accountancy are moving further afield. Global’s Adrian O’Connor pointed to the fact that HSBC has now moved its HQ for retail and commercial to Birmingham, and AstraZeneca relocated its global HQ to Cambridge. He said: “This is great news for finance

professionals, who are seeking greater scope to step into a highquality senior role closer to home, without compromising on career opportunities.”

In brief Too scarred to move jobs? The younger generation may have been ‘permanently scarred’ by the financial crisis and recession and are increasingly staying put in their jobs, says The Resolution Foundation think tank. Although the number of people moving jobs had been recovering after a sharp fall in the wake of the financial crisis, this has slowed since the end of 2015. Resolution say this is a worry, as job mobility is good for the economy. People who move jobs usually end up in higher-paid work that better utilises their skills, so boosting productivity.

A global view How are you going to future-proof your career in a global world? Well, one way to ensure you can is by coming along to our free one-day careers conference on 11 June in London. Bought to you in association with LSBF, we have a great line up of speakers, but you need to sign up to ensure a place! See pages 12 and 32 for more details.

The PQ Book Club: books you should read The Accidental Apostrophe by Caroline Taggart (Michael O’Mara Books, £9.99) The ability to write well – clearly, concisely and logically – is a skill that will take you far in your career. After all, there’s no point in having interesting, original ideas if you can’t communicate them to other people. This book will help you improve your English by

explaining the importance of punctuation – one of the building blocks of good English. Not convinced? Well, try this example from the book. The simple statement “Let’s eat, Grandma” takes on a more sinister turn if the comma is omitted – “Let’s eat Grandma” means something else entirely! Author Caroline Taggart litters this text with many such examples, outlining the

importance of when to use capital letters; the correct use of the colon and semicolon; the use of brackets and dashes; and so much more. It might sound like a dry subject but this book is entertainly written and easy to dip in and out of. PQ rating 4/5 A very useful and enjoyable reference book 29

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Confectionary giant Nestlé is facing a £4m VAT bill after losing its appeal in the Upper Tribunal over its milkshake powders rating. The ruling says that its banana and strawberry flavours should be standard rated, but not the chocolate, which is zero rated for VAT. HMRC had argued that fruit flavoured powders were ‘a powder for preparation of beverages’ and therefore should not be zero-rated. Nestlé also felt its banana and strawberry Nesquik products should be zero-rated as they encouraged milk drinking, and that milk is zero-rated. Both agreed that chocolate Nesquik should be zero-rated as it contains cocoa butter which is a zero-rated food, so is on the list of ‘exceptions to excepted items’.


If you still have a Walter White-shaped hole in your life then Netflix’s OZARK could help fill the void. Arrested Development star Marty Byrde plays the straightlaced Chicago financial adviser who gets into trouble big-time! He has to drag his family from the Windy City to the lake region of Missouri Ozarks. His job? He has to launder $500m from drug dealing in five years to appease a mobster. Great for helping your understanding of those money-laundering exam questions! You will learn all about padding bills, paying tax on profits and turning dirty money into clean cash.

PUTTING THE CAT AMONG THE TEXTBOOKS In a recent social media column we mentioned that pictures of cats seemed on the wane, as lots of students posted pictures of their tidy study areas. Michael Court decided he could combine the two and sent us a picture of when his cat decided he had studied enough for one day.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE IAASB! Founded in March 1978, the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board recently celebrated 40 years of serving the public interest. It has come a long way from that inaugural meeting, where it discussed plans for the first international auditing guidelines. Today, more than 125 jurisdictions worldwide use their suite of international standards for auditing. You can follow the celebrations @IAASB_News. Here’s a picture of an Audit Board Meeting in 1994.

Company director Kevin Brewer has a dubious claim to fame. He is thought to be the first person to be successfully prosecuted for falsifying company information under laws that came into effect in 2009. First, he set up a company making Liberal Democrat leader Vincent Cable a director and shareholder, without the politician’s knowledge. He then formed another company, Cleverly Clogs Limited, making among others Baroness Neville-Rolfe (the minister responsible for Companies House) a director and shareholder without her consent. Companies House dissolved both companies. Brewer was fined £12,000 after he pleaded guilty to breaking section 1112 of the Companies Act 2006, which sets out the criminal offence of providing false information on the company register.


Recently departed Ken Dodd was famously acquitted of income tax fraud in 1989 after a three-week trial in Liverpool, his hometown. During his trial his barrister famously said: “Some accountants are comedians, but comedians are never accountants.” Where, wondered PQ, does this put Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay, who is back out on tour? He graduated from the University of Dundee with an MA in accountancy and jurisprudence and went on to work as an accountant for a number of companies, including the Cairngorm Chairlift Company! He is also quite funny…

I’ll sleep on it Hypnopaedia (sleep-teaching) was scientifically discredited in the 1950s and all but abandoned. However, this might all change now as neuroscientists have shown that prompting sleepers with facts they had learnt the day

before does in fact strengthen their recall. New research from York and Birmingham universities have found clear evidence that targeted memory reactivation (TMR) helps move information from the short-term memory to long-term ‘storage’. Why not give it a try?

What’s not to lycra?

Pork pies are out and gym leggings are in as part of the latest shake-up of the basket of goods and services used to calculate inflation. Strangely, GoPros (surely a bit last year) have also been added, along with body lotion, quiche, raspberries and ready-made mashed potatoes. So what has the Office of National Statistics taken out? Camcorders, Edam cheese, peaches, leg waxing and ATM charges. In all, 36 items have been changed out of the 714 goods tracked.



Sudoku heaven

Self-help is all the rage

We have a great little handbag-sized Sudoku book for you this month. The puzzles start off easy, then go to medium, hard and, finally, very hard. There are 167 puzzles in all – that should keep you busy for a week or so! We have five books to give away. Send your name and postal address to enter this great giveaway. Head up your email ‘Sudoku’ and send it to It really is as easy as that.

We have a great collection of self-help books up for grabs in this giveaway. There are three books which should help you find new ways to live your life to the full and find better mental health. One even provides advice on how to thrive in the digital age. Three lucky readers will be sent a set of books, that should help you stay stress-free throughout 2018! Send us your name and address to be entered for this lucky dip. Remember to head up your email ‘School of Life’ and send your email to

Terms and conditions: One entry per giveaway please. You must send your name and address to be entered for the draw. All giveaway entries must be received by Friday 11 May. The main draw will take place on Monday 14 May 2018.


PQ Magazine May 2018

Your jobs board I need to find now!

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PQ magazine, May 2018  

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

PQ magazine, May 2018  

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