__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

PQ magazine November 2019

www.pqmagazine.com / www.pqjobs.co.uk

Annual Conference: Accountants will save the planet! Thursday 21 November 2019 Join the discussion on current and future aspects of green accounting. Keynote from Jill Atkinson

Book now: accountants-save-the-planet.eventbrite.co.uk Early Bird tickets (£15)

ENTER THE PQ AWARDS TODAY! DETAILS ON PAGE 24

OUR SPONSORS


The UK’s Most Chosen Online AAT Provider More online AAT students get qualified with us than anyone else Study online in your own time Get personalised feedback from expert tutors Take marked mock exams to prepare

Dont stress thanks to our Pass Guarantee

Give your career a boost today and start unlocking your potential

Training Provider

AWARDS 2018 Winner

For more information call For more information call 020 3911 3387 or visit 020 3911 3387 or visit

avadolearning.com/aat avadolearning.com/pq


comment PQ

CONTENTS News 06CIMA case Fancy a trip

around a chocolate factory?

08Big 4 initiative Firms team up to tackle workplace exclusion 09Fraud uncovered EY staffer guilty of scamming colleagues 10Time is right? Call for ban on all watches in the exam hall 12Tech news Our digital update Features, etc 04Mind your Ps&Qs TBL is the way ahead; harnessing AI; and the best of PQ’s social media 14Viewpoint CBEs need CBT, says LSBF’s Rob Sowerby

15One-day conference Can accountants save the planet? Book your place to find out!

16Your career Taking your life in a different direction can pay off

17ICAEW exams Give the markers what they really want

18ACCA advice Why ethics must underpin everything you do

19CIMA spotlight We run the rule over the 2020 case study

20AAT results The latest pass rates from the association

21AAT assessments What you

November 2019 26ACCA AFM exam Don’t fear this ‘ugly duckling’ exam

27CIMA exam tips Five top tips from someone who really knows

28The NHS Apprentices have huge role top play in the NHS

29Careers Life at Lankill; and our book club review

30Fun stuff – and our giveaways The columnists Robert Bruce An idea is worth nothing unless you act on it 6 Prem Sikka Thomas Cook more proof of FRC’s incompetence 8 Zoe Robinson We all need a little nudge every now and then 10 Mike Day Why Open Banking is a driver for change 12 Subscribe to PQ magazine It’s FREE – see page 22 or go to www.pqmagazine.com OCTOBER 2019 ISSUE Total Distribution

30,381 Publisher’s statement: We send both a paper and digital issue to a controlled database each month. The above figure is the combined total of issues sent out this month.

need to do to get that pass mark

23Caron Betts What to do after you get your exam results and they’re not what you’d hoped for

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

You can save the planet Extinction Rebellion were well into their two-week protest when I wrote this. They had already protested outside HM Treasury telling everyone inside to “stop funding climate death”. XR is calling on the UK government to act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. That’s one bold commitment. Former PM Theresa May had promised to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050. There is no doubt that climate change is now part of the agenda. The government (and the rest of us) sees the positives of better air quality and less noise pollution, and as well improved biodiversity. They have real cost benefits as well – just think of the savings for the NHS. We are hoping accountants have passion for saving the planet, too – and we think it is possible to have a debate without showering HM Treasury with red dye! Our one-day conference on 21 November at London South Bank will look at the whole question of ‘accounting for extinction’. We have Professor Jill Atkins opening proceedings. She wrote ‘Chief Value Officer: Accountants Can Save the Planet’. The FRC’s Philip Fitz-Gerald will also be there, along with the Carbon Trust’s Thora Frost. We will also look at the importance of paying your taxes, and our very own Professor Prem Sikka and John Christensen from the Tax Justice Network will take us on a journey through the moral tax maze. This looks set to be a unique, one-off event in the world of accountancy, and we urge you to be there. Sign up at accountants-will-save-the-planet.eventbrite.co.uk Graham Hambly, PQ magazine editor (graham@pqaccountant.com) PQ Awards 2020 We launch the best awards around – so it’s time to get nominating! Full details on page 24, or go to www.pqmagazine.com


PQ email graham@pqaccountant.com

HAVE YOUR SAY TBL is the answer It is great to see PQ magazine taking our environmental future seriously with its ‘Accountants will save the planet’ conference, but do you really think accountants are the solution? Global sea-level rises of half a metre are being predicted if we sit by and do nothing. We can also expect tidal storms, hurricanes, and millions of people being displaced as crops fail and the wells run dry. There will be nowhere to run, even for us relatively comfortable accountants. We are, as they say, all in it together. If accountants just value cash flow and profits we will surely be seen as part of the

problem and not part of the solution (as you said). I believe the triple bottom line (TBL) has to be the way forward –

profit, people and planet. The third bottom line measures companies’ effect on the planet, and as John Elkington said, only those producing a TBL are really taking into account the full cost involved in doing business. I will see you on 21 November! James Aldridge, by email The editor says: We agree James, there is no Planet B. And we are calling a carbon emergency on you all! We think accountants can help people pay the right tax, help companies with their integrated report and help us create a sustainable future. • You too can sign up now for our conference in London on 21 November – go to accountantsave-the-planet.eventbrite.co.uk

social media ROUND-UP In early October we tweeted that the FRC had started an investigation into the EY audit of Thomas Cook Group plc for the year ended 30 September 2018. However, we used Facebook to put out a more substantial feature on the story. We said: “The writing was on the wall when, in May, Thomas Cook rocked the City with the announcement of pre-tax losses of £1.5bn for the six months to the end of March. As one commentator said, with

Our star letter writer wins one of our fantastic ‘I love tax’ t-shirts! Not so accurate As a current AAT Level 4 student and new subscriber to PQ magazine I was very interested in the article on page 24 of the October issue about the Management Accounting – Budgeting exam. Interesting as it was, I think the best bit was the misspelling of the word ‘accurately’ in the final paragraph. I’m hoping this was a deliberate mistake and part of an unannounced competition, which now means I’m the winner of a car or holiday home! Thanks for the magazine. Matthew Bassett, by email The editor says: Well spotted Matthew, you win a holiday – £1,000 of Thomas Cook vouchers are in the post! Seriously, apologies for the error.

I need pqjobs.co.uk

Man and machine ACCA’s Antonis Diolas is right to say concerns over machinery and technology is nothing new (PQ, September ’19, page 25). While the late Stephen Hawkins – and now Elon Musk – suggested that humanity’s

future could be in doubt, I have to side with Antonis, who says that we must embrace our fear. I think AI will help change the accountancy profession for the good, too. We will no longer be seen simply as the ‘number crunchers’ – the robots will be

doing that. We can become the strategic thinkers, advisers who help grow businesses and people. Oh, and can I ask if the ACCA archive is available to students as well as members? I would love to see what they have in the library. Name and address supplied

such huge debts and cash flow problems it left the company too vulnerable to any new ‘problem’. So blame Brexit (some did), the internet, or even the weather, but this happens to most companies, big or small, if profits can’t cover debt repayments!” Pizza Express be warned. It has a debt pile of some £1.8m per restaurant, or a total of £1.2bn… We also pushed out the ACCA pass rate results on Monday 14 October, as we always do, and we got lots of feedback about the September sitting as it happened. SBR, for example, included a question about cryptocurrency. Keith said: “It’s quite interesting that ACCA has started examining cryptos. However, it’s fair to say it was a predictable technical article! Some countries have already embraced cryptocurrencies… excited for the future.” Nihar pointed out: “The paper was OK and best part was the crypto question, which should create a new type of question to treat us with, although it’s not even a valid investment in a lot of countries!” And Salifyanji said: “Honestly I didn’t expect a question on cryptocurrency.”

PQ Magazine Unit 3a, Kingfisher Heights, 2 Bramwell Way, Royal Docks, London E16 2GQ | Phone: 020 7216 6444 | Email: graham@pqmagazine.com Website: www.pqmagazine.com | Editor/publisher: Graham Hambly graham@pqmagazine.com | Associate editor: Adam Riches | Art editor: Tim Parker | Contributors: Robert Bruce, Prem Sikka, Zoe Robinson, Mike Day, Tony Kelly, Phil Gammon, Edward Netherton | Subscriptions: admin@pqmagazine.com | 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 admin@pqmagazine.com

Published by PQ Publishing Ltd © PQ Publishing 2019


21

DISTANCE LEARNING AAT & ICB ACCOUNTING QUALIFICATIONS

YEARS

Celebrating 21 Years of Students’ Success

I am extremely happy with the support and quality of training resources provided by Premier Training. My queries are always dealt with quickly and assignments are marked swiftly with excellent feedback. - J Singh (AAT Foundation Certi⇒cate in Accounting)

P Bene⇒t from interactive videos and our innovative individual learning programme.

Instant access to ACCA, FCA and AAT quali⇒ed tutors via phone, email, Skype, Twitter and our learning portal.

We will tutor you until you pass. (Students must be actively and continuously studying. Please see our T&Cs for more information).

Award-winning e-learning

Personal tutor support

Pass Promise

Why Choose Premier Training • Multi award winning training provider • Start your studies the same day as enrolling • Instant access to tutor support • Award winning learning resources • Prompt marking turnaround

Find another provider that marked assignments, mock exams and e-learning tools, and we'll match their price.

Price Match

• Pay by instalments (interest free) • 24 hour online access • Pass Promise (Students are required to be actively & continuously studying. Please see our website T&C’s)

CALL NOW Training Provider

Training Provider

AWARDS 2019

AWARDS 2019

Winner

Winner

Large Training Provider of the year

Lifetime Achievement Award

01469 515444 Best Accountancy Training Provider

Study Resource of the Year

www.premiertraining.co.uk


PQ news

ROBERT BRUCE An idea’s worth nothing unless you act upon it In cartoons, a bright new idea is invariably depicted as a light-bulb coming on above a character’s head. Real life is very different. Instant enlightenment is not what works. What matters is someone making a connection, and then realising what can be done with it. This autumn Accountancy Age is 50 years old. Today it’s an online service, but at the outset it was a weekly news magazine, posted out to thousands. When I was its editor it was a fat and prosperous publication. Occasionally we’d run a ‘flash’ across the front page, boasting that this week’s was ‘the largest-ever issue’. That is until readers started to complain that it was too big to digest. But the idea that brought Accountancy Age about shows how new ideas work. Michael Heseltine was not the successful politician he later became. As a young man he had started a publishing company, thinking that something about accounting might work (he had briefly flirted with becoming an accountant). So he set up a meeting with the longstanding and staid weekly accounting magazine of the day. He arrived early and was leafing through a copy in reception and noting how fat it was with job ads. “You must have a large advertising department to bring all this advertising in,” he said to the receptionist. “No”, she said, “we haven’t got one. People just send the ads in through the post.” Heseltine cancelled his appointment, and a fortnight later launched Accountancy Age. It never looked back. Anyone can have ideas. It is the action that counts. Robert Bruce is an award-winning writer on accountancy for The Times

Immerse yourself in chocolate CIMA’s November Operational case study exam homes in on the chocolate confectionery industry, in the form of Chokolate Box. With this in mind, PQ magazine is joining forces with top tutor Sandy Hood, who is planning a visit to Montezuma’s chocolate factory and HQ, located near Chichester in West Sussex. Hood has been preparing candidates ever since the case study exams started in February 2015. He told PQ magazine: “The CIMA OCS examiner has helped by using some interesting businesses.”

He has previously taken students on visits to ice cream makers, tea manufacturers and cosmetics producers. Hood is taking the tour with a small group of students and the firm’s operations director, and

Now’s your chance to shine Do you know anyone who needs a shiny new ‘PQ’ award? Well, there are 18 up for grabs with the launch of the PQ magazine Awards 2020. Among the winners in February were the AAT, Training Link and the University of Liverpool. Our Personality of the Year was Mary Ofili, and Zane Salmon was Apprentice of the Year. The reigning Student Body of the Year is ICAEW student society NCASS. Editor’s Award winners included the UK ACCA Distance Learning Students Facebook Group, pictured above. If you want to be at the best accountancy awards night around then you need to download a nomination form from pqmagazine.com. The deadline for entries is Friday 20 December. For more information and a look at some of the recent PQ of the Year winners go to page 24.

New leadership team for FRC The Financial Reporting Council’s new leadership team of Simon Dingemans and Sir Jon Thompson have taken up their respective roles as chair and chief executive. As the FRC said they join at a pivotal stage as the transition to a new regulator – the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA) – progresses, following Sir John Kingman’s

afterwards you will have the chance to chat with the finance director and, hopefully, one of the owners. It offers a unique insight into the industry, and Hood is offering four lucky PQ readers a chance to join the tour. The date is Monday 21 October, and the tour will take place from 10am to 12.30pm. There may even be the chance of taking away some samples, too! If you are interested in the tour email sandy@sandyhood.com. Head up your email ‘Montezuma’. He will provide details of where and when to meet.

ACCA launches Practice Platform The ACCA CBE Practice Platform is now up and running. From March 2020, the ACCA will begin replacing Strategic Professional paper exams with CBEs. To support students ACCA has created the CBE Practice Platform, initially available in the UK, Ireland and Czech Republic, providing vital prep for the actual exams. These are the first areas to go live with CBEs. In addition, approved learning partners will have the opportunity to tailor the platform just for their students. Thompson, left, and Dingemans

independent review. Dingemans was previously CFO of GlaxoSmithKline, and Sir Jon was chief executive of HMRC. They replace Sir Win Bischoff and Stephen Haddrill. Sir Jon said: “I am pleased to be joining the FRC as it begins the transition to a new regulator with stronger powers to hold companies, their directors, advisers and

shareholders to account. I am also committed to building on the governance and stewardship standards the FRC has helped to champion to ensure businesses reflect modern-day society.”

Bhandari has been a member of the Premier League’s Equality Standard Independent Panel for four years. And, yes, he is related to our favourite Bhandari – Sunil, who writes regularly for us. The only problem is Sanjay is also a Manchester United fan!

was AFM and ATX. SBR sitters found this autumn’s exam tough. One in three said it was a disaster (33%), and a further 38% said they found the exam hard. For 30% of PM sitters the September test was a disaster, and another 33% felt it was hard.

Hardest ACCA papers Which were the hardest papers at September’s ACCA exam sitting? SBR and PM stood out as the hard papers, according to an Open Tuition poll. Not far behind

Stephens no more Moore Stephens is rebranding to become simply ‘Moore’. The firm says the move positions it as a “more modern, internationally relevant brand”.

In brief AAT’s new Business School AAT has launched a new Business School, which aims to equip accountants with the skills they need to “protect, grow and reinvent their business practice”. Open to both AAT members and non-members, the school is kicking off with two one-day courses hosted by the cofounder of The BoB Group, Darren Shirlaw. The courses are being held at AAT’s London office at the Barbican, and will focus on 6

driving growth and new clientele, and pricing to maximise earnings. New chair for Kick It Out Kick It Out, English Football’s equity and inclusion organisation, has a new chair. Former EY partner Sanjay Bhandari (pictured) replaces founder Lord Herman Ouseley, who has led the challenge on racism and discrimination in football for 25 years.

PQ Magazine November 2019


Accountants will save the planet! Thursday 21 November 2019 The Business School, London South Bank University, SE1 0AA Following the success of our previous accounting conferences, we are hosting a packed day conference looking at green accounting issues. Hear from renowned experts and industry leaders on current and future aspects of green accounting. Network with other professionals and join the discussion.

If you’re interest e green ac d in counting issues, t his is to be mis not sed!

- Is it time for everyone to declare a climate emergency? - Are we accounting for extinction? - Is it time to get tough with accountants over money laundering? - The moral tax maze: good v evil Plus a stream dedicated to developing your career. Keynote speech from author and Professor Jill Atkins

Limited Early Bird tickets available for ÂŁ15: accountants-save-the-planet.eventbrite.co.uk

Winner of Innovation in Accountancy PQ Awards 2019


PQ news

PREM SIKKA Cooking the books?

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is investigating the 2018 EY audit of Thomas Cook Group’s financial statements. This should not deflect attention from the FRC’s own role in incubating accounting scandals. Thomas Cook’s 2018 balance sheet showed goodwill at £2,585m, which mostly arose from a merger in 2007. For the last decade the company had been relying upon refinancing packages and emergency loans. It also issued a number of profit warnings. None of this justified leaving goodwill unamortised. In accordance with the accounting standards, it built its fair value model and goodwill remained unamortised. The failure to write-down goodwill overstated assets and concealed technical insolvency. Its September 2018 balance sheet showed equity of £291m, which would have been negative if goodwill had been writtenoff. The failure to write-down goodwill inflated Earnings Before Interest and Taxation (EBIT). EBIT was a key component in the calculation of performance related pay for the company’s directors. FRC permits auditors to sell many non-auditing services to audit clients, compromising auditor independence. In 2018, EY collected £3m for audit and £1m for consultancy. Its audit report merely amplified the going concern and other uncertainties identified by directors rather than giving an auditor’s assessment. Capitalism brings corporate failures but they should not be aided by poor accounting and auditing standards. Prem Sikka is Emeritus Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex

Big 4 putting people first For the first time the Big 4 have joined forces to help tackle the exclusion of disabled people in business. Deloitte, KPMG and PwC have announced that they will join with EY by signing up to The Valuable 500. The Valuable 500 is a global movement putting disability inclusion on the global business leadership agenda. The Big 4 all have a history of taking positive action to improve inclusion in the workplace. Deloitte, KPMG and PwC are working with Auticon, to make the most of the cognitive strengths of autistic

individuals though targeted hiring. KPMG is also working alongside the Department for Work and Pensions

Caroline Casey

as a Disability Confidence Leader. Caroline Casey, founder of The Valuable 500, said: “Deloitte UK, EY, KPMG UK and PwC UK have the national power to make a difference in their sector, and therefore the responsibility to really make a difference. It is fantastic that they are standing up together to speak for those who have been routinely ignored in business and society.” • More than 1 billion people across the world live with some form of disability – that’s 15% of the global population. For more information see thevaluable500.com

Uni scammers

Yorkshire and Derbyshire-based BHP has bolstered its team with the largest-ever annual intake of new starters. It appointed 16 graduates, 12 trainees and three year-long placements at its five offices in Sheffield, Cleckheaton, Leeds, Chesterfield and York

New students starting university could be targets of a fresh wave of tax scams, warns HMRC. The Revenue has written to all UK universities advising them to warn new students to keep their money and personal details away from the fraudsters. Over 620,000 tax-related email scams were reported to HMRC last year – up 20,000 on the previous year. Fraudsters use a range of methods, including sending fake tax refunds using seemingly legitimate university email addresses (often ending .ac.uk).

Accountancy degree payback Accountancy and finance is ranked the 35th best subject for graduate employability in the latest ‘Good University Guide 2020’ from The Times. It shares that place with those studying for French degrees, and is one place behind politics students. Researchers found some 72.3% of accountancy and finance graduates are either in a professional job or studying six months after leaving university. That left 19% in non-professional jobs and 10% unemployed. Top of the employability list for 2020 are dentistry and

medicine. Law comes in at number 20. When it comes to salaries by course accountancy and finance studiers move up to 26th, equal with agriculture and forestry, and business study graduates, among others. They all get paid on average £22,000. Law students are ‘languishing’ at number 55 on an average of £19,998.

Tax watch Tax education ‘gap’ Practically everyone in the UK struggles to understand their personal tax affairs, with young people the least knowledgeable, according to research by Deloitte. More than 2,000 people across the UK were asked a series of tax questions and awarded a score based on their answers. The average respondent achieved just 10.6 out of 30, with almost half of people scoring 10 or less. For 1824 year olds the average score dipped to 6.9. Hardly surprising 8

then that 78% of those surveyed said they don’t know enough about tax. Bermuda looks nice… Think tank TaxWatch has said Activision Blizzard, publisher of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush, moved €5bn to companies in Bermuda and Barbados between 2013 and 2107. A new report into the video games industry details how Activision Blizzard manages to move cash royalties into tax havens

via subsidiaries in Bermuda, Barbados, Malta and Ireland. The company is now facing over $1bn in tax demands in France and Sweden, which it is vigorously contesting. It has also set aside £8.5m in relation to an investigation by HMRC. Activision Blizzard recently settled a dispute with US authorities for $345m.

High earners pay more The UK is no longer one of Europe’s low-tax jurisdictions, with high earners paying 3% more than the European average. Accountants UHY have worked out that those earning $250,000 a year in the UK pay on average $103,721 in tax, compared with $100,398 among its European neighbours. That’s 41.5%, making the UK the ninth highest rate among the 30 countries in the study. The UK now taxes higher earners more than the likes of Spain, Poland and France. PQ Magazine November 2019


news PQ

Enablers ‘will face jail time’ Accountants have been compared to burglars, and Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said he will fine and jail those who help companies and rich individuals avoid tax. In a recent interview he also mentioned the Big 4 as ‘enablers’ of tax avoidance. He plans to attack schemes that exploit loopholes in the tax laws and just feels the sanctions are still not great enough. McDonnell also wants to reform the concept of professional privilege for both firms and individuals. He explained: “If you were advising someone how to burgle a house, you wouldn’t be able to use professional privilege, would you?” There is also a problem about who writes tax law, he said. He felt those working for accountancy firms staff a lot of HMRC’s advisory groups. They help design the new regimes and then use the information they learnt to provide advice on how to avoid the tax.

EY assistant in £36k fraud An EY executive assistant and her husband have been sentenced for a £36,000 fraud scam, carried out over several years. Sukhbir Mawkin (pictured) intercepted colleagues’ mail and stole credit cards and driving licenses from their wallets, photographing them to use later. Between 2016 and 2017, along with her husband Anil Mawkin, she used the stolen information to buy mobile phones and clothing. After the pair were first arrested in 2017, Anil began a series of

fraudulent applications to credit providers in the names of EY employees, in order to try to make it appear that the fraud was being carried out by other people.

While Anil Mawkin was sentenced to three years and four months, Sukhbir Mawkin received a two-year suspended sentence and 300 hours of unpaid work. Detective Constable Dave Hughes said: “Sukhbir Mawkin abused her position to steal personal details from colleagues, which were then used to go on a shopping spree. Fortunately, we were able to use advanced intelligence methods to detect these fraudsters, working closely with EY to bring them to justice.”

FRC’s annual report names the bad guys The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) handed out a total of £32m in fines in 2018/19, a big jump on the £13.1m in the previous year, and it looks like that figure will be beaten again in 2019/2020. Its latest report and financial statements shows the biggest fine of £6.5m was dished out to PwC in relation to BHS. KPMG paid out over £5m for Quindell and Ted Baker failings. Since the year-end new fines

include £6m for KPMG in relation to Equity Red Star and another £4m for the firm over Co-operative

Bank failings. Deloitte was also fined, some £4.2m for its work on Serco Geografix. The FRC has 41 cases in progress. During the year it opened 15 new investigations, 12 of which are in audit with three were into accountants. The report shows CEO Stephen Haddrill was paid £431,000, up from £424,000 last time, after he took some extra cash instead of his full holiday quota.

Annual dinners JOIN IN THE CELEBRATIONS, EXCLUSIVE FOR ACA STUDENTS. Friday 15 November – Leeds Friday 15 November – Birmingham Friday 10 January – Nottingham Friday 21 February – Leicester

BOOKING INFORMATION icaew.com/pq

PQ Magazine November 2019

9


PQ news

Perhaps you need a little nudge every now and then When historians reflect on David Cameron’s legacy they will no doubt have much to say about his 2016 decision to give the people a vote on staying or leaving the EU, but they might be excused for missing one he made in 2010, establishing the Behavioural Insight Team (BIT). Influenced by a book called ‘Nudge’, written by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, the premise is to apply lessons from behavioural economics and psychology to public policy. In simple terms, it’s about changing the environment so that it’s easier for people to make better decisions. For example, auto-enrolment for private pensions: rather than asking you automatically enrol people, the so-called opt-out rather than opt-in. This year, I was fortunate enough to attend BIT’s Behavioural Exchange conference. It was attended by academics, foreign government officials and people wanting to learn more, including many in education. So how is this relevant to PQs? Consider an example: we know that practising past questions is very effective; however, that advice is not always taken as it’s hard to prioritise future success over the immediate gratification you’d get from going out with your friends. But what if we could ‘nudge’ students to do more questions, perhaps with a simple message that motivates just at the right time? There are lots of examples where learner behaviours can be influenced for the better, and while it’s relatively new in this sector if BIT’s success is anything to go by then watch this space. Zoe Robinson is Learning and Programmes Director at Kaplan Financial

Time to ban all watches? All watches should be banned from exam halls to discourage cheating, according to an inquiry into the extent of malpractice in UK exams. Smart phones are already banned, but invigilators are finding it almost impossible to distinguish between hi-tech watches that connect to the internet and more traditional ones.

exams. ACCA says all smart technology must be declared in the exam hall and turned off and put in a clear plastic bag under your chair. But there is nothing specifically about ‘normal’ watches. The same is true with AAT and ICAEW. CIPFA’s instruction to invigilators, however, does say: “Watches are not permitted”. No personal items at all are allowed in the CIMA testing rooms, so that includes watches.

ICAS names top young CA for 2019 ICAS has named Hamisha Mehta as its top young chartered accountant for 2019, as part of the global One Young CA competition. Mehta, who is senior commercial financial manager for Pladis, stood out as an aspiring role model – she has taken a prominent role in driving cultural change in her organisation through the Being Me initiative, aimed at promoting good mental health. At an awards ceremony in London Mehta said: “I’m incredibly honoured to win the One Young CA award. I hope that I can represent ICAS at the One Young World Summit and really show what the new generation of chartered

accountant is about.” ICAS CEO, Bruce Cartwright said: “This year, ICAS’ global competition recognised 100 young CAs for their extraordinary talent – those who have excelled in their field, who

have pursued new and innovative career paths, and who have dedicated their time and passion to a worthy cause.” Read more about the Top 100 at https://tinyurl.com/yyvbost9

Changes to international visa rules All international students at British universities will be able to work for two years post graduation in a radical overhaul, announced recently. Seema Kennedy, the UK’s immigration minister, explained that the government plans to reintroduce post-study work visas to help the UK remain competitive. She said she understood that international students want to know that they are studying in a country that can set them up for a successful career.

PwC hits £1bn mark PwC’s UK profits this year jumped over the magic £1bn barrier – that’s 8.7% up on 2018. Revenues rose by 12% to £4.23bn. It means the 913 equity partners earned an average of £765,000 in the year to June, beating the £712,000 they were paid in the previous year. The annual report stressed that the effective UK tax rate for partners was 48%, and the firm’s total tax contribution was £1,265m. Among the 4,000 new people who joined the firm were 1,345 graduates and school-leavers. Belfast is now PwC’s second largest UK location with 2,300 staff. It opened a new office in Bradford and created new Technology Labs in Reading and 10

The chairman of the Independent Commission on Exam Malpractice, Sir John Dunford, said the answer is simple – a blanket ban on all watches. Sir John explained: “It can look as if it’s a time-telling watch and actually you can press a button and it becomes an email-type watch.” As far as the accountancy bodies are concerned, all ban the wearing of smart and digital watches in

Paul Stuart. See www.paul.stuart.co.uk

ZOE ROBINSON

Head of ACCA UK, Claire Bennison (pictured), said: “ACCA strongly welcomes this positive announcement. This move enhances the attractiveness of the UK as a place to study, as well as opening up routes into the highly skilled roles that enrich local economies.” However, she pointed out that ACCA PQs need three years mandatory experience to gain full membership. Bennison wants to see more flexibility to allow this. • The new visa rules will apply to those who start their studies next year at ‘trusted UK universities’.

London. The firm is also in the process of moving to new and larger offices in Birmingham and Belfast. PwC reveals it has slashed its office carbon emissions by a further 37%, bring the total reduction since 2007 to 90%.

from the rest of the business, while ensuring the firm still has access to the experts it needs. Most staff who will move into audit currently work in the firm’s technology advisory and development units. Some tax advisers are also expected to make the transfer.

Audit separation KPMG is moving 20 partners and 800 staff from advisory to audit in preparation for any possible forced break-up, according to a report in the Financial Times. It says any consultant who spends more than 10% of their time advising auditors will now sit within the audit department. Rather than waiting for the inevitable, KPMG wants to create a model that gives the audit practice greater independence

Deloitte’s gender pay gap Deloitte UK’s mean gender pay gap is 18.7% (18.1% in 2018), according to new data. The medium pay gap is 16.1%, the same as last year. The firm’s median bonus gap is 35.1% (37.5% in 2018, and its mean bonus gap is 51.1%). Deloitte’s Dimple Agarwal said the firm is working to increase the number of female partners, and 32 were promoted in June, the highest number to date. PQ Magazine November 2019


We are The Times and Sunday Times University of the Year for Graduate Employment 2019

GOOD UNIVERSITY GUIDE 2019 UNIVERSITY OF THE YEAR FOR GRADUATE EMPLOYMENT

Apply now for January 2020 entry Join an international award-winning university business school with a reputation for a holistic approach to your personal development and career ambitions. Gain maximum professional body exemptions while earning your degree 7th university in the UK and 1st among London competitors for Accounting and Finance (Guardian League Table 2019)

Accountancy college of the year

Accountancy college of the year

Accountancy college of the year

Advanced entry on to year 2 or 3 BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance with ACCA F1-F3 or AAT level 4 ACCA tuition and revision sessions MSc International Accounting and Finance MSc Corporate Governance with Graduate ICSA

lsbu.ac.uk


PQ tech news

MIKE DAY Why Open Banking is a driver for change

Do you know that many accounting software vendors have direct bank feeds, taking key transaction information from the bank(s) straight into accounting software? I have worked with many practices who take this to the ‘Nth’ level and work on their clients’ bookkeeping 10 minutes a day, every day. Very different to the ‘bag and box’ every year... Obviously, there is a lot more to that shift in workflows than just the banking bit, but it certainly wouldn’t be possible without the banking bit! Well, as from 14 September (with a six-month adjustment period), new regulation kicks in which means all of those older bank feeds have to be updated to new specifications. Open Banking was designed to encourage competition in the banking industry, giving more choice, as well as greater control of data and how it’s used. Supported by a new regulatory regime, banks will be required to share more customer information than ever before via technologies such as application programming interfaces (APIs). From where I sit, this has already enabled the challenger banks, like Revolut, Soldo and Starling, to create open banking feeds from day one, so the improved competition is working. And watch this space for how these new standards allow for the sending of data from the accounting software back to the bank – the computer says yes, instead of the computer says no! And here is some good news. The UK leads the world in the adoption of Open Banking and all things FinTech at the moment. Mike Day, Director, UK Education Sector, Xero

We need ‘robot strategy’ Unless the government steps up efforts to manage the transformation to AI entire regions of the UK face being left behind and British businesses could find themselves uncompetitive, says the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee in a new report. The worry is that the UK is now ranked 22nd in the world for the number of robots per person. To capitalise on these new technologies the committee is urging the government to come

Rachel Reeves

forward with a new strategy by the end of 2020. The report railed against the introduction of a ‘robot tax’, believing that such a tax would

discourage the take up of automation and would not be in the interest of businesses or workers in the UK. Instead it wants the government to introduce tax incentives to encourage investment in new technology, such as AI and robots! Committee chair, Rachel Reeves, said: “The Government should come forward with a UK robot and AI strategy to support businesses and workers as they manage the transition to a more automated world of work.” Chartered Accountants Ireland has joined forces with robotic process automation (RPA) market leader UiPath to ensure its graduates hit the world of work ‘robot-friendly’. UiPath will provide its Automation Ready Workforce programme to the institute, which will include a 12hour RPA curriculum course, starting with the 2019-20 academic year. This programme will teach students the principles of business task automation through software robots, providing practical exposure to UiPath’s platform. These new digital skills will be tested during the Final Admitting Exam.

App downloads hit a record 30.3bn in Q2 2019, according to new market data from App Annie. This is an increase of 1.9bn over the same quarter in 2018. Downloads from Google play were up 10% to 22.5bn as a result in growth in emerging markets such as India, Brazil and Indonesia, while App Store downloads remained consistent year-on-year at just under 8bn with China, the US and Japan leading the way. Globally, Facebook Messenger was the most downloaded app across both iOS and Google

There’s an App for that platforms, followed by the social media company’s main app; WhatsAPP, Tik Tok and Instragram. Tinder topped the consumer spending list, followed by Netflix, Tencent Video, video platform iQIYI, and YouTube. However, a separate study from First Direct found many of these apps are just clogging up our devices. Despite having an average of 26 apps on their mobiles users only access five per day. Almost a

third of people also admit they rarely delete apps. The top 10 Apps worldwide Q2 1) Facebook Messenger 2) Facebook 3) WhatsApp Messenger 4) Tik Tok 5) Instagram 6) Snapchat 7) Likee (was LIKE) 8) SHAREit 9) Spotify 10) UC Brower

requirements, according to a new report by RSM. European General Data Protection Regulations require firms to report certain types of data breach within the first 72 hours of detection. The research suggests employees are the weak link in many European businesses. Almost half (46%) of successful attacks targeted employees via phishing emails. Despite this some 22% of businesses still provide no cybersecurity training for staff.

Flying cars by 2030 Electric flying taxis and planes will start ‘disrupting’ the markets by 2030, according to a paper by Citygroup. It says electric taxis will begin taking to the skies in 2025, and electric passenger jets will be flying regional routes (up to 1,000 miles) by 2030. It estimates that the urban air taxi market could be worth £4bn by 2030, with the market for electric regional aircraft has put at £5bn.

Tech briefs Unsubscribe the easy way A new APP that automatically cancels subscriptions when the free trial period comes to an end has been launched in the UK. Free Trial Surfing, which already has 10,000 users in the US, uses Visa cards in partnership with a major bank to stop people getting stung by unexpected charges.

bookkeepers and businesses. Sage believes the new acquisition will accelerate its vision to become a “great SaaS company”. AutoEntry will initially be offered to Sage’s network of accountants and bookkeepers in the UK, while continuing to service its customers across the board through its open and independent ecosystem.

Sage buys up AutoEntry Sage has acquired AutoEntry, a leading provider of data entry automation for accountants,

Secret hacking Some 75% of cyber attacks never become public knowledge despite GDPR breach notification

12

PQ Magazine November 2019


Tutors, are you spending too much time checking “10” = “£10.00”?

Optimise Your Time & Value  Learning platform built for accountancy  Understands 42 currency formats  Handles calculations  Replicate AAT’s test functionality  Instant feedback and study advice to students  Frees up your day to engage with the students

Mention PQ Magazine for a FREE TRIAL

Top Up Your Professional Qualification to a BSc Accounting Degree Fast track your career through online study with our BSc Accounting Degree and further develop the technical and non-technical accounting skills required for a successful professional career. You can Top Up your CIMA Advanced Diploma (or an equivalent accounting qualification) and study with us to achieve a BSc degree in as little as 12 months.

Start February 2020 Apply now: www.rgu.ac.uk/bscaccountingcima

+44 (0) 203 151 1331

getrogo.com


PQ viewpoint

CBEs need CBT Robert Sowerby urges tutors of accountancy to abandon the old methods of teaching and bring in the new

I

t’s time for tuition providers to step out of the dark ages and appreciate the need to teach exams in the manner in which they are examined. We are fast moving to a point where all professional exams are computer based, so shouldn’t this be reflected in the manner in which we teach? I see students coming out of school, college or university who have only known working on laptops for whom writing or using a calculator are viewed in much the same way as I would view a quill or chalk and slate. So the question is, why do tutors persist in using a pen? I think we know the answer and it has something to do with dogs being old. A well-prepared lecture using a mix of Excel, Word and possibly PowerPoint opens new opportunities for teaching and learning while better

reflecting the work environment for all accounting students. So how do we get the best out of the medium? We have all heard of ‘death by PowerPoint’ and I agree that overuse can kill any presentation (I mean, when is it polite to snore in class?). At the same time, selective PowerPoint slides can give a coherence and structure otherwise

Depth and structure Using Word may not give rise to such benefits at first viewing, but at a simple level your plan can be converted seamlessly into headers for your answer. For a higher level question requiring depth and structure, when developing an argument you may wish to have five or six threads or pros and cons. So why not bang them out in isolation as you work through the narrative once you have enough cut and pasted into a more coherent whole? What I am suggesting here is only scratching the surface of what can be done to massively improve the teaching of accounting students. I am sure many tutors can be more creative than me. There are no excuses for tutors to play the Luddite. My plaintive call is for all tutors to catch up and ditch that pen! As a student you should demand it. PQ • Rob Sowerby is Director of Professional Courses at LSBF

lacking in a wider presentation. For computational subjects the key is how to get the most out of a spreadsheet presentation. The ‘clever’ bit relates to how something can be easily copied and replicated, meaning that you need robust

AAT to ACCA

pro formas for all aspects of the paper. It improves presentation but also provides students with a critical exam skill. Furthermore, the spreadsheet may be tweaked again and again in such a way to show slightly differing interpretations of the same problem, giving an opportunity to enhance understanding and knowledge.

FREE EXEMPTIONS

Fast Track

If you’ve completed the AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting you’re on track for a headstart with ACCA. Take the next step and claim your free exemptions.

“ACCA is a global RTQHGUUKQPCNSWCNKĆ‚ECVKQP and I believe it will take my career much furtherâ€?. Joanne McCourt Commercial Insight /CPCIGT0GY.QQM

Find out more and apply: accaglobal.com/aat

14

PQ Magazine November 2019


one-day conference PQ

WILL ACCOUNTANTS SAVE THE PLANET? I

f we are to change the planet through the accounting function then we also have to change the accountants, says Professor Jill Atkins, our lead speaker at this year’s one-day conference. In her 2016 book with Professor Mervyn King, ‘Chief Value Officer: Accountants Can Save the Planet’, she praises the ACCA as the “salient exception”. It changed its training, placing integrated reporting within its curriculum in 2014. She points to what the ACCA said publicly at the time too: “The whole concept of integrated reporting is a more lucid way to present the performance, composition, impact and contribution of the entity to stakeholders and society.” Since then, the ICAEW has incorporated the UN Sustainable Development Goals into its syllabus. But is it enough? Well, you have to come along on 21 November to find out! We have speakers from the Carbon Trust, The Prince’s Trust Accounting 4 Sustainability Group – and you will discover what happened when the ICAEW spoke to Extinction Rebellion. On top of the ‘green and social responsibility’ stream, we have a ‘tax and ethics’ and a ‘careers’ stream, so hopefully something for everyone. One session that will certainly leave an impression will be the one on the moral tax maze. We have Professor Prem Sikka and the Tax Justice Network’s John Christensen leading here. As part of the careers sessions we will look at what employers want, and ask the question – is it a robot? Hays Accountancy & Finance will also be on hand to look at what you are worth. All we are asking is you cover the cost of the lunch. All PQ readers and anyone connected with the profession is weclome to attend. PQ

PQ Magazine November 2019

There’s still time to sign up for our one-day conference on Thursday 21 November, brought to you by PQ magazine and London South Bank University. Go to accountants-save-the-planet.eventbrite.co.uk

To secure your place go to accountants-save-the-planet.eventbrite.co.uk and we will do the rest

The ICAEW podcast Are business ill-prepared for climate change? That’s the topic the ICAEW chose for the first of its new Podcast series ‘More than a Number’. Financial journalist Louise Cooper discusses 1.5C – the temperature that climate scientists argue the global temperature rise must be kept below (by the end of the century) to avoid the worst impacts. ICAEW’s Jeremy Mooney said that chartered accountants sit at the heart of every business and do not take numbers at face value. Check out the podcast at: https://www.icaew.com/about-icaew/who-we-are/the-hot-topic • The ICAEW is one of the sponsors of this year’s ‘Accountants Will Save The Planet’ conference.

15


PQ your career

Cash in on your qualification Mark Mckenna explains how you can take your career in a different direction

T

here are many reasons why PQ’s readers study accounting qualifications. Perhaps you’re looking to advance your career or take it in an entirely new direction. You may be just starting out or have years of experience. Regardless, what will unite many of you is the desire to become your own boss in some shape or form – perhaps as an accountant – or to use your new-found skills to balance the books for a different business venture.

Taking the next step Learning accountancy always felt an obvious choice to me. After university I studied and qualified as a chartered accountant while working for Deloitte. I enjoyed my seven years with Deloitte greatly and learnt a huge amount, both technically and also with respect to essential soft skills, including communication and teamwork. During my seven years of practice my clients were fast-growing private companies who needed professional advice and support. It could often be hard work, but I always enjoyed helping

clients tackle new, and often complex, challenges. After advising and working with private companies for some time I felt that running a business was something that I wanted to do myself one day. Wary of the transition from running the numbers to running a business I studied for an MBA, which was a great way to help fill in some of the gaps in my skillset – all of which led me to set up Mindful Education. While I am no longer a practising accountant, the accountancy skills I learnt at the start of my career were invaluable in the creation of my business and of course I still use them every day. Investing in your skillset Although it can be challenging, studying accounting is great preparation for the

rigours of running a business. Naturally, the technical skills you learn will be the ones that you are most aware of, but along the way it is increasingly the soft skills that come to the fore. Arguably, the most important skill you will learn during your studies is problem solving – and being a business owner will frequently put this to the test! Throughout your studies you’ll learn the importance of paying attention to detail and spotting patterns – which can easily be applied to a wide range of workplace situations, such as implementing a new IT system or hiring new staff. Look out for opportunities to practice this now, so you can tackle the challenges that will come your way with confidence. Right now, your accounting qualification is going to be your key focus, but while it might seem as though it’s the only thing that matters, the truth is that it’s probably just the start of your own journey. PQ • Mark Mckenna is Founder and Managing Director at Mindful Education. Mindful Education won Study Resource of the Year at the PQ Awards 2019

It’s what we call

digital first Give your career the ultimate flying start with the business qualification that takes you where you want to go. Register now at accaglobal.com/pq

16

PQ Magazine November 2019


ICAEW exam advice PQ

What markers want The ICAEW offers students some top exam tips – from the perspective of the marker

T

he case study exam presents a complex business issue that will challenge your ability to problem solve, identify the ethical implications and provide an effective solution. Now that the exam has moved to computer, the markers give their tips on preparing for the exam and what to expect on the exam day.

Before the exam • It goes without saying that you should always read and digested the previous Vital articles written by the examiners. It would also be excellent preparation to read the examiners’ reports on recent exams, look at published illustrative scripts, and review the general layout of past marking keys for examples of the sort of analysis, judgement, conclusions and recommendations that are rewarded. You can find these at icaew.com/casestudy • Make sure you are familiar with the exam software before the exam – good preparation reduces anxiety. Avoid widening columns: if the page is wider than about half the screen, your script will be difficult to view when marking. • It is a common error to type your report in the wrong sections – take some time to avoid doing this. Here is an overview of what each tab means and explains where you will add your Executive Summary and responses to Requirement 1, 2 and 3 during your case study exam:  Tab 1 = Executive Summary  Tab 2 = Requirement 1  Tab 3 = Requirement 2  Tab 4 = Requirement 3 The first cell in each tab will be labelled to remind you where to add your response. • Make sure you are familiar with the figures within the Advance Information, how they are derived, and the direction the company is going in. All this will help with any financial analysis or strategy. During the exam • Plan your time carefully – spread your time evenly over the three requirements, allowing time to write the Executive Summary. Many students provide detailed answers to Requirement 1 and then their answers become progressively shorter (and weaker) as they move on to Requirements 2 and 3. • Use formal language – try reading real business reports for some style tips on how to use business langauge. Jargon will be penalised, as will writing in the first person, referring to the directors by their first names, or using informal terminology. Writing tactless or unethical comments will also lose this mark. Don’t refer to pages or items within the Advance Information or exam in your report – the company directors PQ Magazine November 2019

will not have these to hand. • Headings – each section and subsection needs a heading, appendices need headings and so do columns in calculations (eg 2019 £000). Formatting such as underlining is not necessary. • Style – the report should be from the firm (for an external report) and include a disclaimer of liability in the event of further distribution. • Spelling – while typing, spelling errors are almost inevitable, make sure the marker can make sense of what you have written. If you find accurate typing a problem, type more slowly so that you make fewer mistakes. • Layout – split the requirements up into their constituent parts and make sure you address all parts of the question asked (rather than the question you wanted the examiner to ask). Putting in headings at this point can help make sure parts of the answer are not missed by mistake. A good, clear layout also helps markers easily find all your relevant comments and reward them appropriately. • Appendices – make sure these are clearly laid out and that the marker can understand what you are doing so that they can give you the appropriate reward. The markers cannot view the formulae behind the numbers, so these calculations need to be explained (eg, £300 x 12 months). It is easiest if you complete your appendices at the start of the requirement; that way, you can refer to the figures as you write your report. • Analysis – this is all about looking at the numbers, what has changed and some of the reasons why. Structuring problems and solutions includes looking at comparisons, suggesting explanations and considering assumptions. • Judgement – looks at evaluating key points (‘this is key because…’), looking at implications (‘this means…’), considering limitations and linkages, possible bias and scepticism. • Conclusions – these should briefly cover all parts of the requirement. Ensure that you include any key figures from your analysis here too. There is often no right or wrong answer, but the markers like to see students come to a

justified decision when one is asked for. There is no need to rewrite your entire report here. • Recommendations – these should be casespecific, action points covering a number of different areas. Recommendations that you could have written before you saw the exam are unlikely to be adding any value (or marks) to your report. Avoid recommendations that state the obvious, such as ‘increase your sales’. • Executive Summary – this should highlight the key findings from your report. It needs to summarise the main findings from each requirement, including the key matters that you consider the directors of the company would be most interested in. • Keep re-reading the requirement to check that you have covered all aspects in the report and in the conclusions, and to avoid doing work not asked for, for example analysing operating expenses if an analysis just to gross profit is required. • It helps the markers (and who wouldn’t want to do that!) if paragraphs are kept short and to the point. Long, woolly, generic sentences do not score highly and pages of dense text are difficult to mark. • This exam isn’t about quantity – a good answer can be short and to the point. It isn’t a ‘technical’ exam, although you should avoid making basic bookkeeping or accounting errors at this stage in your career. It is about assimilating all the information and writing a common sense report which adds value for the reader and, crucially, answers the questions asked. The case study exam is now on computer, so make sure you get to know the functionality and formatting of the exam software before the exam day. Access the exam guide for an overview of the case study exam software, listen to on-demand webinars and practise using the blank practise software or software with sample exams. Explore more at icaew.com/casestudy PQ • Thanks to the ICAEW for this article Reproduced with the permission of ICAEW, this article was first published in Vital (October 2019) 17


PQ ACCA spotlight

Ethics and trust in the digital age Judith Bennett explains why it’s vital an ethical approach underpins all that you do

S

ome of you may have seen the headline ‘ACCA exams up for sale’ in last month’s PQ and read about four students being fined for misconduct. It was disappointing to see students cheating for financial gain and we had to act, and I am sure all PQ readers will understand the need for us to do so. ACCA, like other professional bodies and academic institutions, cannot tolerate such behaviour; we have a zero tolerance policy to cheating or unethical behaviour. Displaying ethical behaviour is not only important in your exams, it’s also a key competency you’ll need to display as a finance professional – as our professional insights report ‘Ethics and Trust in a Digital Age’ highlighted in 2017. This report investigated the new challenges professional accountants face as technology plays a bigger role in our profession, saying: “The professional accountant of the future will need, in addition to technical capability, a rounded skill set that demonstrates key quotients for success in areas such as experience, intelligence, creativity, digital skills, emotional intelligence and vision. And at the heart of these lies the ethical quotient.” It is why ethics and professionalism competencies are assessed in all of the ACCA exams, from Applied Knowledge all the way through to Strategic Professional and why the Ethics and Professional Skills module is a core component of the ACCA qualification. While we expect students, as future members, to act ethically in exams from day one when they sign up to ACCA, we know as a professional body that we also have our own responsibilities – to ensure our exams are delivered safely and securely, particularly as we embed more

18

technology into our assessments. As we’ve moved our exams digitally we’ve reviewed our security processes to ensure we continue to deliver our exams with the same levels of security as we have always done. These processes may have changed, but the principles have not: all students must receive fair and balanced exams, and a valid and reliable result. We don’t just do this alone. All of our test centres for the on demand exams are run by a network of trusted partners. This offers independent and rigorous invigilation that complies with our strict service level agreements. Strategic Professional CBEs, when first launched in March 2020 in the UK, Ireland and the Czech Republic will be delivered in the same way. For our on demand exams, students receive unique exams with questions drawn from a huge question bank. While all students receive different combinations of questions we have a

number of processes to ensure that all exams are balanced in terms of difficulty and syllabus coverage, and then results issued are valid and reliable. To keep the exams up-to-date, fresh and secure the question banks are regularly refreshed. In our Applied Skills exams, students also get a different combination of questions drawn from question banks. While we know it could be tempting to try to guess what questions will come up in an exam, due to our processes the probability of guessing whether a question may come up in your specific exam is very low. There are so many combinations of questions that it is impossible to predict what will appear in your own exam. We know that in instances where students have attempted to guess, or “been told” that a question will appear in their exam, their performance is more likely to be negatively impacted. These students will answer the question they think they’ve received rather than the actual question. Two very different things! In this situation, the necessity to behave ethically applies as much to the student looking to gain academically as it does to the students who are sharing the likely misleading information. Foolish strategy Cheating your way to an ACCA qualification is a foolish strategy that will only lead to failure. The best way to prepare for and know what will come up in exams is to study the full syllabus guide – this is a guaranteed way of knowing what will come up in the exam! Good preparation is the only way to succeed in ACCA exams. Through the ACCA qualification we try to help students develop the skills they need to be successful professional accountants and ethics is one of these skills we are proud to support and encourage. Thankfully, the vast majority of ACCA students already have the ethical qualities needed to succeed in our profession, possessing the personal integrity that will help build success, enabling them to secure the career they want. We know these students wear their ACCA badge with pride, showing the world the values we all share together. PQ • Judith Bennett, Director – Professional Qualifications at ACCA

PQ Magazine November 2019


CIMA case study 2020 PQ

Steve Flatman proffers some top tips for the new CIMA professional qualification case study exams

F

ebruary 2020 will be the first time students studying with CIMA will be sitting their case study exams under the updated CIMA professional qualification and have the support of the new exam blueprints. The format of the exam is the same and it still includes familiar topics like reporting and cost accounting, but you will now also be tested on new subjects such as cyber risks, data analytics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, digital costing and digital strategy. The updates were made to support you in building your career and help you power the success of your organisations. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the exams and achieve your goals: Before the case study exam Set up your own personal study plan on planner.cimaglobal.com. There you can set your own study pace, track your progress as you go and also have access to free resources and insights such as blogs and articles. Make the most of the blueprints to prepare for your case study exam. They tell you exactly what is examinable, and therefore what you need to learn. Be sure to work your way through them and, once you are done, check that you can confidently make each of the ‘I Can’ statements – then you will know you have all the knowledge and understanding you need to pass the exam. For example, at the Operational level, the case study exam blueprint describes the simulated business tasks that could be assessed during your exam. This includes understanding how the finance function can leverage novel technologies and the associated data to improve information used by decision makers, and grasping the importance of having a digital mindset to transform finance functions, processes and measurement of performance. Be sure to access the pre-seen material for your case study exam and analyse it in detail so you understand exactly how to relate the material and all that you have learnt directly to the

Changes that will affect you

syllabus and the ‘I Can’ statements. If you are able to, sit some timed mock tests and have them assessed. Once you have worked your way through your level and feel you are ready for it, make sure to book your exam as soon as possible. Our research with Kaplan showed that if you sit your exam within 12 weeks of finishing your studies rather than eight weeks your chances of passing fall by 16%. So while we don’t advise you sit your exam before you are ready, bear in mind that to increase your chances of success taking this timely approach may pay off. Succeeding on the day of your exam On the day of your exam you know you can confidently make all of the relevant ‘I Can’ statements and are fully prepared, be sure to have ready all of the equipment you need such as a non-

programmable calculator from a preapproved list into exams at Pearson VUE test centres. And don’t forget if you do bring one in to the exam you will need to show it to the exam administrator before you sit the test. Your results Hopefully you have passed your exam, but if you do need to take the exams again, don’t get disheartened – take some time to reflect and then revisit all of your study material. Once you are ready, you can rebook to re-sit your case study exam over four windows in February, May, August and November. In next month’s article we will look at key steps to take if you need to re-sit an exam. PQ • Steve Flatman, VP Examinations at the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

Registered Tuition Provider

PQ Magazine November 2019

19


PQ AAT exams

AAT RESULTS AAT has now published its annual pass rates for the year ending 30 June 2019 Assessments only CBA pass rate

Access 92.5%

Foundation 83.3%

Advanced 72.5%

Professional 62.0%

AAT has four graded qualifications. The table below shows a summary of the grades awarded for each qualification between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2019. Qualifications and grades awarded

Pass

Merit

Distinction

Foundation Certificate in Accounting

5%

44%

51%

Foundation Diploma in Accounting and Business

12%

70%

18%

Advanced Diploma in Accounting

25%

54%

22%

Professional Diploma in Accounting

53%

45%

2%

The latest AAT pass rates are out, and the number of students attaining a distinction or merit in the Professional Diploma in Accounting is marginally down – to just 2% and 45% respectively (it was 3% and 46% last time). The number of PQs being awarded distinctions at the Foundation and Advanced Diploma rose ever so slightly, to 18% and 22% respectively. Those obtaining a merit held steady at 70% and 54%. The overall CBA pass rates for the year (to the end of June) were 83.3% for Foundation, 72.5% for Advanced and 62% for Professional papers. The Management Accounting: Decision and Control paper was again the stand-out ‘hardest’ individual paper, with a 52.8% pass rate this time around. Foundation’s IBLW was not far behind with a 54% pass rate. FSLC and PDSY also had pass rates below 60%. PQ

Level Access Access Access Foundation Foundation

Assessment name Access to Accounting Software Access to Business Skills Access to Bookkeeping 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

Foundation Foundation Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Professional Professional Professional Professional Professional

Introduction to Payroll Using Accounting Software Advanced Bookkeeping Advanced Diploma Synoptic Assessment Final Accounts Preparation Indirect Tax Management Accounting: Costing Business Tax Credit Management Cash and Treasury Management External Auditing Financial Statements of Limited Companies

Professional Management Accounting: Budgeting Professional Management Accounting: Decision and Control

Short Code AASW ABSK ATBK BKCL

Worldwide 82.2% 96.0% 95.8 71.3%

BPLS

96.5%

BTRN ELCO FSYA

87.9% 89.6% 85.8%

IBLW

54.0%

INPY UACS AVBK AVSY FAPR IDRX MMAC BSTX CDMT CTRM ETAU

89.8% 86.9% 61.5% 61.6% 77.6% 79.8% 84.4% 71.6% 58.6% 61.5% 60.4%

FSLC

57.9%

MABU

75.9%

MDCL

52.8%

Professional Professional Diploma Synoptic Assessment

PDSY

58.5%

Professional Personal Tax

PLTX

64.7%


AAT assessments PQ

Write well and pass Alan Dawson outlines the best way to tackle written tasks in the assessments

S

o it’s time to sit the course assessment. You’ve covered all the calculations and are feeling confident – but what about the written elements? These are often looked upon with dread, but if you understand the topics they offer you an opportunity to put on paper what you know. Obviously, examiners are looking for good knowledge and understanding of the topics, but they don’t want a ‘shopping list’ of facts and figures. Instead, they will want to know that you can arrange selected facts and communicate them effectively. The examiner is looking for your answer and not a copy of what it says in your study book. They are looking for relevant answers and not everything you know about the topic. Make it easy for the examiner to read. Use paragraphs to separate ideas and make sure it follows a logical sequence. Plan your answer before you start to write. It’s no good writing about the merits of different stock valuation methods until we know what methods are available. Read the question Make sure you read the question. This seems an obvious statement, but it’s common for candidates to give a good answer to the wrong question. If the question is on the limitations of ratio analysis, you won't get any marks for only writing about how to calculate them. Your written answer needs to give ‘added value’ to the question. If you are given a table of results and you are asked to comment on them you won’t get any marks for simply restating what the results are. The examiner knows what the results are because he has the question just as you do. Your comments on these results is what will gain the marks. Read the question at least twice before

PQ Magazine November 2019

you answer and at least once after. Make sure your answer is relevant. It doesn’t matter how clever you feel you’ve been at writing about the topic, if it’s irrelevant to the question it won't get any marks. Make sure you have answered all the question. If it asks for a description with examples you’ve only half answered if there are no examples. If you are asked to ‘evaluate’ then give both sides of the argument – both the bad points and the good. Don't waffle. This is where irrelevant information is given, or where you state the point over and over again. If it’s irrelevant leave it out; if you’ve made your point don’t make it again. You will lose marks for giving undue weight to unimportant points. You won’t get full marks if your answer is mostly about the controls needed because £5 is missing from petty cash, and you say relatively little about the £10,000 of inventory that is missing. Make sure you address the important issues as these will carry the most marks. Relate your answer to the scenario given. You should write about how the figures affect this business. What will be

the consequences for the company in the scenario? As a general rule, avoid bland statements which could apply to any situation. Candidates often worry about this type of question because they don’t know what it says in the book about it – but remember, there will be no answers in the book. Whatever the question it will be, at least to some extent, different from those you’ve read before. The examiner wants your opinion related to this scenario. These written tasks can be your opportunity to get high marks. Just stick to the following points. 1) Know your topics. Make sure you understand why you are using the calculations rather than just being able to get the right answer. 2) Read the question. Make sure you’ve answered all parts. 3) Plan your answer. Don’t just write an answer without any structure. 4) Give your own opinions and conclusions where relevant. Don’t rely on answers in the book. PQ • Alan Dawson is a tutor at Premier Training

21


PQ with AAT, ACCA, ICAEW or CIMA? Why wait? Join ICB today! Fast track your career by using your existing qualifications to join the world’s largest bookkeeping organisation. As a Certified ICB Bookkeeper you’ll benefit from:

Professional status and recognition Free legal and technical advice-line Local and national events Resources, webinars, templates and help sheets Accounting news, emails and updates Discounts with 100s of retailers including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, ASOS, and Curry’s And being part of a community that really cares

For more information and to receive 15% off your ICB Exemption application, call ICB HQ on 0203

405 4000 and quote ICBPQ

Email us at exemptions@bookkeepers.org.uk

PQ magazine About you Title...................................................... First name............................................ Surname .............................................. Company name .................................. ............................................................ Department.......................................... Full postal address

Home

Work

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

www.bookkeepers.org.uk/PQ

Theeasiest easiestway wayto toget get your your free monthly copy The copy isis to togo goonline onlineatat www.pqmagazine.co.uk,ororyou youcan canfill fillinin the the form form below and send www.pqmagazine.com, send itit to: to: PQ Magazine, 4th Floor, Central House, 142 Central Street, London, EC1V PQ, Unit 3a, Kingfisher Heights, 2 Bramwell Way, Royal Docks, London E168AR 2GQ Study please tick a box in 1A or 1B 1A Please indicate accountancy body you belong to and tick the box of the next set of exams you are hoping to sit Applied ▫ Knowledge F1-3

Applied ▫ Skills F4-F9

ACCA

▫ CAT

CIMA

▫ Certificate

CIPFA

▫ Certificate

▫ Diploma

▫ Strategic

ICAEW

▫ CFAB

▫ Professional

▫ Advanced

ICAS

▫ TC

▫ TPS

▫ TPE

Tax

▫ ATT

▫ CTA

AAT

dip ▫ Level 2/Found 2

3/Adv dip ▫ Level 3

▫ Operations

▫ Management

1B Studying for an accountancy degree/MBA/MSc

Strategic ▫ Professional P Papers

▫ Strategic

dip ▫ Level Level 4/Prof 4 ▫ Year 1

▫ Year 2

▫ T4

▫ Member ▫ Year 3

Do you work in accountancy and finance

............................................................

▫ Yes

▫ No

If yes, what is your job title? ..........................................................................................................

............................................................

* How do you want to receive your PQ magazine?

............................................................

Please tick your preferred mode of delivery for your free monthly magazine.

Postcode ............................................

▫ Online (please supply email address)

Sign below

▫ By post (UK only)

to receive your monthly

PQ magazine totally

free

Phone .................................................. * Email ................................................ ............................................................

Sign here ............................................................................Date........................................................... ▫ Please tick here if you do not wish to receive direct marketing promotions from other companies.

PQ magazine reserves the right to refuse a free copy of the magazine if the applicant does not comply with the terms and conditions of circulation.We will use your details to send you a copy of the magazine and any further information we feel would be of use.


your exams PQ

The day after results day Caron Betts focuses on what happens when the exam results are released and they aren’t what you’d hoped for…

W

hatever qualification you are studying, receiving exam results is always nerve-racking. For some students it will be good news; they will have passed, and are able to progress with their studies as planned. For others the result will be more disappointing and they will need to work out how to tackle a resit and determine what impact that has on any current studies. Let me share my three-step approach of Reflect/Revise/Redo to help you decide what to do. Reflect It is disappointing to fail an exam, but it is not the end of the world. You may be feeling a range of emotions – anger, disappointment, sadness, anxiety – and it’s OK to acknowledge those feelings, but don’t let them overwhelm you. Yes, these are important exams and of course you want to do well, but just because you were unsuccessful this time doesn’t mean you won’t do better next time. That’s why a period of reflection is useful. Take the time to consider why you failed. Be honest with yourself in assessing how well prepared you were for the exam, such as: • Did you cover all of the topics in the syllabus? • Did you understand the subject – could you answer questions without referring to your notes? • How much time did you allow each week for studying? Was it enough and was it the right time of day to gain the most benefit? • Did you ensure you had time to revise the material ahead of the exam and work through at least one mock exam? You may find it useful to talk through with your tutor, a colleague, a family member or friend how well you felt you were prepared

ahead of the exam. They may be able to help you in your assessment as they can identify what you did well (keep doing that) and what didn’t work (stop doing that!). Having analysed your last performance, remind yourself of why you are doing these exams and ‘get back on the horse’. Revise ACCA results are issued about seven weeks before the next exam sitting so time is of the essence to ensure you have enough time to be properly prepared for the exam. It’s worth pausing and considering what do you do about your new subject. Chances are you have already started studying for a new subject and now you need to decide whether to a) just focus on the resits, b) just focus on the new one and defer the resit, or c) do two papers. As a general rule of thumb, only do two papers if your fail was marginal and you are confident that you have enough time to study for both. If you were several marks away from a pass then it is sensible to just focus on one. It is usually worth doing the resit first, while it is still fresh in your mind – but you may decide a new subject is going so well you want to carry on. Having decided which exam(s) you are taking,

it’s now time to revise. To me revision means two things: recap and question practise. Recap is where you look back over the topic to refresh your memory of the key points. You will probably be surprised at how much you can remember. However, don’t spend too long making lots of notes, because you want to focus on question practice. The key to success is exam standard question practice. This is where you attempt the question to time and then use the marking key to assess your answer. You may then need to review your notes if you are failing to score well. Check with your tutor which questions they recommend. Work through a question bank. Attempt the past exam papers and review the examiners’ feedback. There are lots of resources available. Keep working through the loop of recap – question practice – recap until you are able to tackle all questions on the topic confidently. Redo Although this is a resit treat it as a new exam and a new chance to shine. The marker will be looking for evidence that you should pass and this time you will be ready to prove just how great you are. PQ • Caron Betts is an ACCA tutor with AVADO

Do YOU or a FRIEND want to gain PRACTICAL ACCOUNTING EXPERIENCE? We at Next Accountants have got the Job Ready Accounting Programs with Inbuilt Guaranteed Job Placement that will provide you with the necessary PRACTICAL, TECHNICAL and SOFT SKILLS required to progress your career in Accounting Next Accountants Training, Unit A2 Gateway Tower, 30 Western Gateway, London E16 1YL Direct 0795 8379 469 | Office 0207 0590 712 https://www.nextaccountants.training PQ Magazine November 2019

23


PQ Awards 2020

TIME TO BE COUNTED The search is on for nominations for the PQ magazine Awards 2020 – so get entering…

T

he countdown has begun for the 17th PQ magazine awards night. Our sponsors are signed up, the venue is booked – what we need now is a room full of excited part qualified accountants! The PQ awards really are the only place to be. You don’t have to believe us – take a look at our award videos from the past two years at pqmagazine.com, where London’s glamorous Café de Paris is the setting for both wonderful evenings. Come on, who doesn’t want to win a shiny ‘PQ’ trophy? We don’t think Lecturer of the Year, LSBF’s Britita Petrova, has put her trophy down since winning it last February. Her winning photo has even appeared in the ACCA’s interactive mosaic. We think she might take it to bed with her! Among the other 2019 winners was the Training Place of Excellence’s Daniel Amoakah and Brunilda Aliaj. It’s Daniel who stars on this month’s front cover. They won our Training manager/Mentor of the Year category. Another winner on the night was the UK ACCA Distance Learning Students Facebook Group. They recently celebrated their fifth birthday, and really are a group that puts students’ interests at their heart. The awards take place in February, always around the time of the Oscars and the Brits. But we promise our attendees have far more fun! So

come and join the party. To get started all you need to do is download the nomination form from our website. Just go to pqmagazine.com and click on the ‘PQ awards’ bar at the top of the page. Alternatively, email us your entry directly, making it clear which category you are entering. It is also important that we have all your details too, because we may need to invite you to the awards night! There are lots PQs up for grabs – 18 in all – so plenty of chances to be a winner. As always we will be looking for a college and lecturer from both the private and public sectors. What do we need you to actually do? Well, we have kept it simple: we want you to write 250 words, plus any supporting evidence, on why your nominee should be shortlisted for one of our awards. Please remember we are happy for you to nominate yourself – this is not a time to be shy, and we understand that sometimes people aren’t always appreciated for the hard work they do. All shortlisted nominees also get to come along to our awards night for free. Once you have everything ready send it to awards@pqmagazine.com or post to: The Editor, PQ magazine, Unit 3a, Kingfisher Height, 2 Bramwell Way, Royal Docks, London E16 2GQ. Our independent judges will read every entry to create a shortlist of five for each category, before choosing the winners. As we always say, you have to be in it to win it, so come on get nominating. The deadline for nominations is Friday 20 December 2019. PQ

AWARDS CATEGORIES • • • • • • •

PQ OF THE YEAR NQ OF THE YEAR DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENT OF THE YEAR STUDENT BODY OF THE YEAR APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR ACCOUNTANCY BODY ACCOUNTANCY COLLEGE – PUBLIC SECTOR

ACCOUNTANCY COLLEGE – PRIVATE SECTOR

• • • • • • • • • •

ONLINE COLLEGE LECTURER – PUBLIC SECTOR LECTURER – PRIVATE SECTOR STUDY RESOURCE INNOVATION IN ACCOUNTANCY BEST USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINING MANAGER/MENTOR ACCOUNTANCY TEAM ACCOUNTANCY PERSONALITY EDITOR’S SPECIAL AWARD

OUR SPONSORS

24

PQ Magazine November 2019


Awards 2020 PQ

PQs OF THE YEAR

2019 – REBECCA DIXON Rebecca has worked for the NHS for the past 11 years. An AAT studier, she initiated the setting up of a new finance twitter page, regularly posting updates of the achievements and events in the department. She would have had to tweet her own award-winning news after becoming our PQ of the Year! Rebecca also helped set up a quarterly finance newsletter and help promote training sessions for the team. This hardworking, respected team member was always looking at innovative ideas to bring her community together.

2018 – TYSON NSIMBIE It’s best we let Tyson explain what he does: “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.” This ACCA PQ works for FairFX, and in five years’ time hopes to be managing a “team of Tysonly trained geniuses taking finance, compliance and risk to the next level”. His advice? Do your homework!

2017 – TIM MPOFU Tim was part of the graduate programme at Ealing Council when he became our winner. A CIPFA PQ, he wants to make a positive impact on the public sector and society as a whole. He became a PQ cover star and was shortlisted for a CIPFA award the same year. And his fame continues – his picture adorned the CIPFA stand at this year’s conference in Birmingham. But we don’t believe he has been able to keep his claim to fame. He held the record for the longest run of games unbeaten in the work five-aside football.

Flexible learning for busy lives Study AAT with Mindful Education’s award-winning Online and On Campus courses Delivered in partnership with colleges across the UK, students enjoy high-quality learning on demand, without losing the benefits of the classroom environment

Winners of PQ ‘Study Resource of the Year’ 2019

PQ Magazine November 2019

To find out more, visit mindful-education .co.uk/students

25


PQ ACCA AFM exam

A beautiful black swan Don’t fear the AFM paper, says Sunil Bhandari – it’s not an ugly duckling but a beautiful black swan

P

hilosophers before the 1770s would often talk of the logical paradox of a ‘black swan’. After all, at that time only white swans were known to most of the world. Then, with the discovery of Australia, black swans were found. Today, a ‘black swan event’ (courtesy of Nassim Taleb) is an event that nobody thought was possible. So, what type of swan did the ugly duckling grow into? The ACCA Advanced Financial Management exam (AFM, previously P4) has for long been labelled as “the option paper to avoid”. Words like ‘difficult’, ‘challenging’, ‘too hard’, ‘rocket science’ (and even ‘impossible’) have been regularly used to describe the exam (although not by my students!). I would accept that, in the early days, it could be a little tricky, and that was reflected in the pass rates. Things have now changed dramatically, especially since being relabelled AFM in September 2018, as the table shows: Ranking* of option papers using ACCA global pass rates Exam session AFM APM ATX AAA Sept 2019** 1 or 2 3 1 or 2 4 Jun 2019 2 3 1 4 Mar 2019 1 3 2 4 Dec 2018 1 3 2 4 Sep 2018 1 2 3 3 *1 = highest pass rate, 4 = lowest pass rate **Expected outcome based on student feedback As you can see, AFM has had the highest, or second highest, pass rate for the past five sessions – so why is that? First, the questions are shorter, so students can more easily digest the data provided and not feel overwhelmed. Second, the AFM syllabus is more contained than others like ATX, and it does not change as regularly. That means that past papers are a clearer guide to the current exam than in some other papers. Third, the exam guidance is clearer

these days. All papers will test, to some extent, Section B (Advanced Investment Appraisal, with or without real options) and Section E (Risk Management). Section C2 (Business Valuations) is also a common topic. Any candidate knowing these three syllabus areas has a clear advantage. Advanced Investment Appraisal questions have seen a welcome change recently; a partially prepared solution with the candidate required to complete the calculations. For instance, in one of the questions covering foreign NPV, foreign currency cash flows were given. The candidate had to convert them into the domestic currency and calculate additional domestic cash flows. In another question, the ‘base case’ cash flows were provided, and the candidate had to discount them (using Kei) and then move on to the present value of the finance cashflows to find the APV. Clearly, there is less time pressure when such pro-forma are provided, and more importantly the examiners are testing higher-level skills. There are currently 17 official AFM articles available via the ACCA website. I was privileged to write four of these and have input into one other. They are a nice mix between providing knowledge

(eg Islamic Finance) and demonstrating how to answer particular types of exam questions (eg Business Valuations). These articles are invaluable, and are regularly tested in the exams. So the message is clear: know your AFM articles! Under the old P4 paper candidates were required to choose 2 from 3 questions in Section B. The current AFM exam has removed this choice, and paradoxically this has led to improved pass rates. An optional exam element appeared to waste candidates’ time, and perhaps led to greater ‘question spotting’ than was wise. Knowing you have to attempt all parts of each of the three questions set makes matters simpler, and discourages a focus on a narrow subset of the syllabus. P4, and its predecessors, could lay claim to being ‘the ugly duckling’ of the ACCA professional stage, with the reputation to match. Now it’s all grown up my view is AFM is a ‘black swan event’ – a beautiful paper with a decent pass rate that rewards the well-placed efforts of ACCA students, and one that deals with a fascinating subject area. The ugly duckling is indeed now a thing of beauty. PQ • Sunil Bhandari is an ACCA AFM and FM tutor with FME Learn Online

Award-winning AAT courses and apprenticeships Flexible learning to suit your lifestyle mindful-education.co.uk/students 26

PQ Magazine November 2019


CIMA exam tips PQ

Hugh Martin has some sage advice on how to give yourself the edge in the exam hall

Five of the best

1

Reverse engineer: The foundation for passing these exams is to lock in a target exam date and to work backwards from there. Book your objective exams six to eight weeks in advance; for case study exams book six weeks in advance and add an additional three weeks per subject that you have not covered yet due to exemptions. TPM: Theory, Practice and Mocks is the winning sequence of study that I used when doing my exams. First learn the theory, then spend two to three weeks becoming fully immersed in the course theory by whichever medium you prefer (books, videos, etc). Next, work through as many practice questions as possible. Initially, try not to use the book or the internet to help you. If you are stuck try to solve using the textbook/internet before checking the answer. For objective exams I recommend roughly 250 questions; it seems a lot, but break it up into 40-60 question sessions to make it more manageable. Finally, two weeks before your exam you need to sit a mock paper that replicates exam conditions. If you don’t do well, that’s fine – at least you know your weak points. Work through the cycle again on areas you didn’t perform well in and continue resitting mocks until you pass.

4

Martin: ‘think like an examiner’

2

PQ Magazine November 2019

The night before: I’ve never studied the night before or the day of the exam. Although somewhat counterintuitive, the night before an exam can be used more productively if the time is spent relaxing and resting. You need to be confident in the exam and revising materials the night before can cause you to question your knowledge if you suddenly find that you are weaker on a topic than you thought. Use the time wisely and create a clear and confident mindset for the day of the exam. Practice makes perfect: Practice questions should form 40-50% of your total revision time. Don’t worry about trying to get every question correct, if you get one wrong that’s a valuable insight on an area you need to work on. Always make note of areas you do poorly on and focus the majority your study time on those specific areas. PQ • Hugh Martin is MD of Belfast-based consultancy Lankill Group

5

3

Create questions: Dedicate two or three study sessions to going through the textbook and creating questions on what you think an examiner would ask you in an exam. This is especially useful for case study exams where there is a large volume of information that can be examined. Creating questions puts you in the mindset of an examiner and lets you cover off all possibilities on what can be tested. Make sure you have an answer for each question you have created.

Hugh was a world comendee for the Operational case study and scored the highest result in Ireland, finishing CIMA in the shortest window possible by passing four exams in four months with grades above 70% (including the case study). He scored 99% in one CIMA exam and was 24 when he became fully qualified.

27


PQ the health service

Apprentices have a big role to play Accountancy apprenticeships can help alleviate the challenges facing the NHS, say CIPFA’s Chris Glennie and Rob Alder of the AAT

T

he NHS in England is currently short of almost 40,000 nurses, and the number of hospital beds needed continues to increase each year. The service is facing higher rates of long-term health conditions, staff shortages and increased waiting times – there is an urgent need for well-trained professionals to enter the field and help combat these worsening problems. The NHS budget increased to £139.3bn this year, a 4.8% increase on the previous year. Despite this uplift, the cost of new equipment, better facilities and plugging the skills gap continues to grow. The challenge of Britain’s changing health landscape, compounded by the predicted £3.6bn shortfall in social care funding by 2025,

makes the need to upskill public finance professionals in the health sector all the more vital. While the need for broader policy solutions is clear, it is crucial that the NHS is able to effectively manage the limited resources currently within its gift and benefit from the ability to access talented employees. That is where programmes like the NHS Professional Accountancy Apprenticeship Pathway come in. The AAT and the CIPFA have joined forces to provide a path for aspiring finance professionals to work within the NHS. NHS Professional Accountancy apprenticeships are designed for all levels of work experience and educational background. Whether you’re a graduate trainee or a working accountant seeking a professional

qualification there is a pathway for you. The apprenticeships begin at Level 3 (Assistant Accountant Apprenticeship) and Level 4 (Accounting Technician Apprenticeship), with the highest entry point (Level 7 Professional Accountant Apprenticeship) resulting in the designation of Chartered Public Finance Accountant (CPFA). In addition to choosing your entry point, each apprenticeship can be tailored to your individual experience and career aspirations. If you are already working within a team, the pathway is flexible enough to prepare you to deliver high-quality service and develop the skills needed for your specific role. With high patient demand and resulting financial constraints on the NHS, there are more opportunities than ever to get involved in reforming the current system through finance. Qualified accountants will be at the heart of the changes to come – alleviating stress in the system, delivering transformation, and ultimately, supporting the vital frontline care provided by the NHS every day. If you’re interested in finding our more about the NHS Professional Accountancy Apprenticeship Pathway visit the website or call +44 020 7543 5600. PQ • Chris Glennie, CIPFA’s Director of Education and Lifelong Learning and Rob Alder, Business Development Manager, AAT

-RLQRXU

$ZDUG:LQQLQJ&HQWUH

7UDLQLQJ3URYLGHU

$$7

  







 6$785'$<&/$66(6   ',67$1&(/($51,1*$9$,/$%/(

)5(($335(17,&(6+,36

 $FFRXQWLQJ $$7 %XVLQHVV$GPLQLVWUDWLRQ &XVWRPHU6HUYLFH  )RUPRUHLQIRUPDWLRQ  

RI([FHOOHQFH ZKHUHTXDOLW\WUDLQLQJV SUDFWLFDOZRUNSODFHPHQWVWDNHSODFH 28

 DGPLQ#WKHWUDLQLQJSODFHRUJ 1HZ&URVV5RDG #7UDLQLQJB3ODFH /RQGRQ6(%(  PQ Magazine November 2019


careers PQ

Women ‘tick boxes’ Although the percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards is on track to reach 33% by 2020, a new report has found worrying trends implying that companies are appointing women for symbolic value. The Female FTSE Board Report, produced annually by Cranfield University’s School of Management, reveals that women serve shorter tenures than men (on average, female non-executive directors serve 3.8 years – with men serving five years) and are less likely to get promoted into senior roles. Professor Sue Vinnicombe, lead author of the report, said: “Since we started our report more than two decades ago, we have seen the number of women on boards increase from

Life at Lankill Group Hugh Martin. 26, is MD of the Belfast-based firm. He has a commerce degree with a specialty in accounting from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Hugh scored the highest result in Ireland for the CIMA 2015 August sitting of the operational case study What time does your alarm clock go off on a working day? 5:40am What’s the first thing you do when you get to your desk? List one or two major things I need to get done that day. What’s on your desk? A few plants, my laptop and a ridiculously strong coffee. What’s the best thing about where you work? I’ve full autonomy on the work I do. Where’s your favourite place to go for lunch? 147 Deli in Dublin – I never miss the chance to go when I’m travelling down. What (or who) can you see when you sit at your desk? Plenty of seagulls and a skyline of

Belfast. Which websites are your favourites and why? I love travel websites so Lonely Planet, Tripadvisor and Airbnb are my favourites. Which websites do you use for work? LinkedIn, mostly. How many hours a week do you spend in meetings? Five to eight hours a week. What time do you leave the office? I aim for 6pm, but it really depends on the day. How do you relax? Going to the gym and general exercising. What’s your favourite tipple? Carlsberg. How often do you take work

home with you? Every day. What is your favourite TV programme? Bordertown, it’s a Finnish crime drama, absolutely brilliant. Summer or winter? Summer. Pub or club? Pub these days. Who is your hero? Bodybuilding legend Dorian Yates. If you had a time machine, where would you go? Back to 1997, so I can buy Amazon shares at $2 each. If you hadn’t chosen accountancy, where might you be right now? Computer programming in a large software company.

contracts as it prepares for tighter tax rules on the use of self-employed private sector workers (IR35). An internal email to all bank managers explained they must no longer use freelancers “who provide their services via a personal services company, limited company or other intermediary”. Instead, Barclays will expect the recruitment agencies to move contractors to PAYE.

them thought their class and background has been a professional disadvantage; 12% said they would never disclose where they had grown up.

In brief

6.7% to 32%. There has clearly been great progress on the numbers front but scratch beneath the surface and we suggest that some companies have simply been ticking a box. “There is mounting evidence that women have shorter tenures and are less likely to be promoted into senior roles than their male counterparts. The number of women in chair roles has decreased this year. We need urgent action to make sure that women are being appointed to boards and recognised for their contribution, and not simply for symbolic value.” The research is supported by the Financial Reporting Council, and former CEO Stephen Haddrill said: “Diversity at board level, and at all levels of the workforce, adds real value to business culture and the bottom line.” TWO WOMEN JOIN KPMG BOARD KPMG has appointed two women to its board, which means that half of the board will be female for the first time. The newly elected members are Melissa Geiger, head of international tax and tax policy, and Linda Main, head of UK capital markets. KPMG is trying to put behind it a row about the handling of the resignation of two senior women partners over the way bullying allegations were handled. The pair resigned in February over the issue. PQ Magazine November 2019

Reading start-up heaven If you are thinking of starting a new business then think Reading! The Berkshire town has been named the best place to set up a small business during the 2010s, according to a new study by Informi, the website offering free practical advice and support for small businesses. Reading performed well in the number of start-ups each year, access to highly skilled workers and its overall business stock. Brighton came in second, with Northampton third. Barclays tightens up Barclays looks set to clamp down on the use of off-payroll

The demise of accents A quarter of Londoners admit they have changed their accents to help them climb the career ladder. A survey from Equality Group found 21% of

Deal or no deal Leaving the EU with a deal could boost the UK economy more than expected, according to KPMG. It has worked out that the economy will grow by 1.5% in 2020 if we leave with a deal, with the pound rising by 15%. The firm had predicted previously a growth of just 1.3%. However, the firm warns that the UK could face a year-long recession if there’s a no-deal Brexit, and the economy could contract by 1.5%.

The PQ Book Club: books you should read Sustainable Development Goals by Julia Walker, Alma Pekmezovic and Gordon Walker (Wiley, £60) First a bit of backgound – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global targets set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 for the year 2030. The authors explain that to achieve these goals requires a fundamantal rethink about how governments and corporations operate across the globe. They carefully explain what the goals are, putting them into context. Criticised by some as being

unattainable – they include an end to world poverty and hunger – this book argues that by harnessing the power of the public and, crucially, the private sectors they can be achieved. This is not holiday reading; it is an extremely well-researched treatise from leading thinkers in the field. But do not be put off by the book’s academic nature – it is clear and concise, offering a roadmap to tackling the great challenges of our time. The authors outline the opportunities arising from blockchain, big data, digital identity and FinTech, while the

relevance of a transparent and sustainable global supply chains is also explained. Above all, it emphasises with reasoned argument that by acting in concert today there is hope for a better tomorrow. PQ rating 5/5 SDGs are a hot topic (and will only get hotter), and this book has all the bases covered. Well worth seeking out. • We’re giving away a copy of this book to three lucky readers – see page 30 for more. 29


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

BUYING ART = MONEY LAUNDERING

WOMEN PAID MORE FOR PASSING GO!

In a recent interview artist Grayson Perry talked about where the money comes from to pay the high prices for art. He ventured: “I sometimes wonder if the whole art market isn’t a fantastic unregulated money-laundering scheme.” His new show includes a woodblock print called ‘Sponsored by You’. It’s basically a big expensive sports car with the names of lots of tax havens stuck on it. You can catch Perry’s latest show, ‘Super Rich Interior Decoration’, at the Victoria Miro, Mayfair, London, until 20 December.

Game maker Hasbro is introducing the first-ever game in the Monopoly franchise that celebrates women trailblazers, with Ms Monopoly. Properties have been replaced by ground-breaking inventions and innovations made possible by women throughout history. Instead of building houses you build business headquarters. Among the inventions celebrated are WiFi, solar heating and modern shape wear. And, in another twist, women get $240 for passing go and men the standard $200. In this game women also get more money at the start of the game, too.

LAUDROMAT ON FILM Premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September, The Laundromat follows Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep) as she becomes embroiled in Panama’s shell companies, offshore accounts and tax evasion. The film focuses on the infamous Panama Papers, which were released back in 2016, exposing the 200,000-plus offshore shell companies housed by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm. Unfortunately, the reviews aren’t great. As film website Rotten Tomatoes says: “The Laundromat misuses its incredible cast by taking a disappointingly blunt and unfocused approach to dramatizing the real-life events that inspired it.”

BITCOIN HAUL SOLD OFF British Police recently auctioned off illicit cryptocurrency for the first time. The £500k cache was seized from teenage hacker Elliott Gunton, who was recently jailed for 20 months after breaking in to the computer systems of Talktalk. The hack cost that company £77m after the personal details of 157,000 customers were stolen. Gunton advertised his hacking services online for £2,400 a pop.

’ WEV E

AN ANCIENT TAX DODGE The recent discovery of a 950-year-old hoard of Norman coins has shown that tax dodging has been around a long time! Some of the coins have King Harold II on one side and the new King William I on the other. It has been suggested that these mule coins were a way of ‘dodging’ fees owed to the crown. The haul of 2,528 coins is the biggest since 1833 and the detectorists who found it are hoping it might be worth more than £5m.

APPRENTICE DARK HORSE The Bafta award-winning business series, The Apprentice, is back for its 15th series. Among this year’s contestants is a librarian, chartered engineer and… a finance manager. Luton’s Luba Farhan said she lacked good role models so decided to become her own! She enjoyed studying and focused on educating herself first, which gave her the confidence to pursue her dreams and aspirations. Now she believes she “has the whole package”, book smart and street smarts and describes herself as “a dark horse”. She says: “I came from a council estate…I have made myself into something good and I’m on my way to becoming something great”.

KPMG: HAND BACK YOUR WORK PHONE Hundreds of KPMG’s UK staff have been told they no longer require a work mobile phone. The cost-cutting move mainly affects junior admin and back office staff. At the same time the Big 4 firm said it plans to cut about 200 of its 670 administrative support staff. KPMG said that it needs to improve profitability by building a leaner, more responsive cost base.

GOT THE L OT

Fast and simple

Sustainable goals

This great little book provides a selection of fuss-free recipes for modern cooks with busy lives. So, if you fancy potato fritters with onion and tomato relish, then read on... We have three copies to give away this month. To be entered for this prize draw just send your name and address on an email to giveaways@pqmagazine.com. Put ‘Fast and Simple’ at the top of the email and we will do the rest.

PQ magazine has joined forces with Wiley to offer three lucky readers the chance to win a copy of ‘Sustainable Development Goals – harnessing business to achieve the SDGs through finance, technology and law’. You can read the review on the careers page (page 29), but this £60 book explains that to achieve the ‘world we want’ much needs to be done! To win one of these giveaways send your details (name/address) to giveaways@pqmagazine.com. Head up the email ‘Sustainable goals’.

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 8 November. The main draw will take place on Monday 11 November 2019.

TO ENTER THESE GIVEAWAYS EMAIL GIVEAWAYS@PQMAGAZINE.COM 30

PQ Magazine November 2019


READY FOR YOUR DECEMBER EXAMS? Kiick-start you Kick-start your ur ACCA revi revision ision with our award-winning tutors and pass 1st time, guaranteed!* Our ACCA tutor team includes three PQ magazine tutors of the year winners to ensure you succeed.

YOUR CHECKLIST FOR EXAM SUCCESS REVISION

EXAM REHEARSAL DAYS

Start revising your papers from 9 November. WEEKEND OR EXTENDED WEEKEND 9:30 – 17:30

Earliest start date from 16 November. WEEKDAY OR WEEKEND 9:30 – 17:30

Remember you have free revision with your first four tuition papers (AB, MA, FA and LW).**

With LSBF, you can also test your skills under exam conditions with our Exam Rehearsal Days.

WHY LSBF?

Flexible payment options

Pass 1st Time Guarantee*

BOOK NOW web.lsbf.org.uk/pqmagnov | 0203 535 1111 *LSBF Pass 1st Time Guarantee™ ensures that if you do not successfully pass your paper on the first sitting, you will be able to attend a free resit course. The nature of the free resit depends on the preferred study mode. **Please check the website for the selected paper, T&C’s apply.

Free revision on selected papers**

Profile for PQ magazine

PQ magazine, November 2019  

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, November 2019  

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