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editor’s choice Welcome to the march issue of Student Accountant This issue includes a feature on how to make yourself career ready and a look at how you can highlight your extra-curricular activities on your CV. Being tech-savvy is also vital to developing a successful career and we talk to experts to find out what skills you need to develop. We also talk to students and members working in the film industry and the public and pharmaceutical sectors to give you insight into a range of career options. This issue’s Learning Centre includes advice on improving your exam technique and handwriting, and we also include information about the Professional Ethics module and the practical experience requirement. We feature important news about the Simpson Scholarship, the Robin Cosgrove prize and the most recent Oxford Brookes University BSc graduates.
We’ve a number of new technical articles for you to take a look at relevant to a range of papers, including some important updates to Paper F5 and also some key audit and tax articles. We also highlight our subject-specific videos to help you prepare your exam technique and links to the technical article archive. Noticeboard contains important information about annual fees, exam results, exam entry, My Experience and the Oxford Brookes degree. We hope you enjoy this issue of Student Accountant. If you have any feedback, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Victoria Morgan Editor, Student Accountant magazine
Published by the Certified Accountants Educational Trust in cooperation with ACCA. The Council of ACCA and the publishers do not guarantee the accuracy of statements made by contributors or advertisers, or accept any responsibility for any statement which they may make in this publication. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publishers. © CAET 2013 ISSN 1473‑0979
WELCOME | CONTENTS TECHNICAL | COMMUNICATION
06 GRAPHICS NEWS 08 PICTURE NEWS 10 NEWS ROUNDUP
26 ARE YOU CAREER READY? 30 WANTED: TECHNO-SAVVY ACCOUNTANTS 34 SECTOR FOCUS: PHARMACEUTICALS 36 SECTOR VIEW: PUBLIC SECTOR
learning centre 26
12 SOFT SKILLS BRIEFING 14 AFFILIATE PROFILE 16 MEMBER PROFILE 17 IMPROVE YOUR HANDWRITING 18 CONGRATULATIONS TO OBU GRADUATES 19 SIMPSON SCHOLARSHIP 20 PER PROGRESS 22 PROFESSIONAL ETHICS 24 EXAM SUPPORT VIDEOS
SA technical article archive
All technical content from Student Accountant is on ACCA’s website ▶
34 Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
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CONTACTS Dean Westcott | President Barry Cooper | Deputy President
technical 40 TECHNICAL LISTINGS 42 EXAMINER FEEDBACK
ACCA CAR EERS Upload yo
Martin Turner | Vice President
ur global care CV, access e and find ad r opportunities vi in accoun ce on careers tan at www.acc cy and finance acareers.c om
Helen Brand | Chief Executive Editorial Team Victoria Morgan | Editor Glen Patterson | Deputy Editor Jackie Dollar | Design Manager
Access the technical article archive at: www. accaglobal.com/en/ student/publications/ sa-archive.html
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43 NOTICEBOARD ESSENTIAL INFORMATION ABOUT ACCA AND YOUR STUDIES ACCA Connect, exam entry, subscriptions, recording your PER, rules and regulations and important information about the OBU degree programme
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% 49 2 p % 48 p3
% p6 44
ma1 74% FA2 61 %
Ma2 53% fab 52% fma 48 ffa % 46 % fau 48 %
ffm % 49
Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
33% p4 3% P5 3
December 2012 pass rates achieved by students for paper-based exams and computer-based exams
Candidates around the world took almost 367,000 papers, with 7,200 successfully completing their final ACCA exams
F6 47 % F7 53 %
F4 4 1% F5 37%
* Combined pass rates for paper-based and computer-based exams
DISPATCH | GRAPHICS NEWS
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DISPATCH | NEWS IN PICTURES
SINGAPORE SINGAPORE In the first major exhibition of its kind, New York-based artist Nathan Sawaya has created 52 large-scale sculptures from LEGO bricks at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum RUSSIA The flotation of the Moscow Exchange was expected to raise US$500m for the company and selling shareholders. The exchange will be valued at up to US$4.6bn
RUSSIA Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
CHINA Schoolboys wear dust respirators to protect against haze weather in Hebei province. China is to step up its fight against air pollution
US US Oil companies in North Dakota are burning off enough gas to power all the homes in Chicago and Washington combined, a picture from space revealed. The volume of gas being flared off, which is leading the country’s shale oil boom, rose 50% last year SOUTH KOREA South Korean rapper Psy, whose Gangnam Style video was the first to break one billion views on YouTube, has now earned US$8m in ad revenue
CANADA Canada was the latest country to withdraw its lowest-denomination coin from circulation nigeria Celtic defender Efe Ambrose said winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria was one of the best moments of his life. Nigeria scored 1–0 against Burkina Faso
DISPATCH | NEWS ROUNDUP BUSINESS CONFIDENCE FALLS There was a marginal fall in business confidence among finance professionals in the last quarter of 2012. The Global Economic Conditions Survey of 1,994 finance professionals was conducted for ACCA and the Institute of Management Accountants and is the world’s largest economic survey of accountants. Some 43% of respondents reported reduced levels of business confidence, compared with 41% in the third quarter. Only 19% reported increased business confidence. There were slight improvements in business confidence in Western Europe, Africa and Asia, but a loss of confidence in the Middle East. EY CLEARED OVER LEHMAN AUDIT No action is to be taken over Ernst & Young’s audit of Lehman Brothers in Europe, the UK Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has decided. The audit had been referred to the FRC after the administrator reported that client money had not been segregated and safeguarded as required. The FRC said: ‘The Executive Counsel has decided that there is no realistic prospect that a tribunal would make an adverse finding against EY in the UK or members within that firm. The investigation will therefore be closed and no further action taken.’ JOB PROSPECTS GOOD Hiring intentions remain high in Hong Kong this year, despite global economic uncertainty. More than a third of employers (37%) intend to increase headcount in Q1 2013, according to Hudson Report: Employment Trends Q1 2013. ‘Hiring expectations in Hong Kong remain positive and it remains a candidate-short market in many respects. Many Chinese companies see it as a fertile talent ground, seeking to relocate people to offset their local talent shortages,’ said Student Accountant | March 2013
BRICs ‘FACE COMPETITION’ Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) could lose out to ‘new’ emerging markets such as Turkey and Mexico, according to Ernst & Young’s latest annual globalisation report. A second tier of non-BRIC rapid-growth nations are emerging as hotspots for trade and investment, says the report. Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia are already achieving rates of gross domestic product growth close to those of China and India, while Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Malaysia, Vietnam and parts of Africa could become particularly attractive and dynamic investment destinations. However, investors are advised to diversify their commitments to include mature markets, with North America and Western Europe remaining of critical importance. Tony Pownall, general manager of Hudson Hong Kong. ‘Employment is rising in order to meet higher business demands.’ Meanwhile, the MRC Employment Forecast Survey Hong Kong issued a similarly upbeat outlook, noting that 33% of employers anticipate an increase in employment in Q1 2013. The report says that the positive sentiment is recorded in all industry sectors. MORE ACCOUNTANTS NEEDED The UK faces a shortfall of more than 10,000 qualified accountants by 2050 unless there is more focus on workforce planning. According to Randstad recruiting agency, this is just part of a potential workforce shortfall of 3.1 million skilled people. It argues that the government must change its policy on immigration controls to encourage more migrants with relevant skills. The projected skills deficit is the result of an
ageing population and a shortage of young people to take the place of workers who retire. READYING FOR GROWTH Business optimism in Hong Kong has been on a steady rise for three consecutive quarters, according to the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report. The strongest result shows confidence soared to 28% in Q4 2012, from a 12% rise in Q3. This is in marked contrast to the global picture, where optimism continues to fall – to 4% in Q4 from 23% in Q2. Daniel Lin, managing partner at Grant Thornton Hong Kong, said the firm’s research shows improving optimism among businesses in the Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) regions, pointing to a growing level of foreign direct investment and mergers and acquisitions.
Ir ‘drives investment’ Integrated reporting could play a major role in accelerating long‑term investment in infrastructure, International Integrated Reporting Council chief executive Paul Druckman told APEC business leaders at a conference in Manila. ‘APEC economies are among the most vibrant and dynamic in the world and the potential for continued economic expansion in the coming decades, particularly in the Asia‑Pacific region, is considerable,’ said Druckman. ‘Yet APEC economies are not without their challenges, particularly the growing need to attract long‑term investment in strategically important sectors including infrastructure and energy.’ bright start for ipos Hong Kong’s initial public offering (IPO) market kicked off the year with many of the newly listed shares closing higher than their subscription prices. China Daily reported that toymaker Quali‑Smart debuted at 11% up, while property developer GW Tiandi and textile manufacturer Speedy Global closed 21% and 39% higher respectively. However, Tengard Fund Management investment manager Patrick Shum told China Daily that the local IPO market is driven by market liquidity ‘which cannot be analysed based on the economic and corporate fundamental factors’. Cut disclosure overload There is overwhelming support for reducing the size of company reports, according to responses to a survey by the International Accounting Standards Board. More than 80% of respondents said that improvements could be made to the way that financial information is disclosed. Most preparers said that the primary problem is that disclosure requirements are too extensive. But many users said that preparers could do more to
improve the communication of the most relevant information within financial statements. US debt-ceiling limit extended A temporary extension of the US debt ceiling has been agreed by Congress. The extension means that another vote will be required before 19 May. Credit ratings agency Fitch responded that this lifted the risk in the near term of the country losing its triple-A status. Deals between the president and Congress have now overcome both the ‘fiscal cliff’ and debt‑ceiling crises, which were posing a threat to global economic recovery. President Barack Obama blamed recent disappointing economic figures in the US on the political deadlock that at the end of last year blocked a solution on government debt and spending.
Sa non-execs feel the heat New legislation and regulations are placing an increasing burden on non-executive directors of South African companies, a report by PwC has warned. Despite the growing challenge, many non-executives are taking on the role with a larger number of companies; 65 non‑executives sit on more than three boards, says PwC. Individuals are now exposing themselves to greater risk of personal liability arising from the higher burden of responsibility as a non-executive, spread across a larger number of companies. The PwC Annual Review of Non‑Executive Directors’ Practices and Fees Trends Report examined the boards of 373 companies listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.
caymans to improve reporting The Cayman Islands intends to introduce new levels of transparency in financial reporting for companies registered there, according to the Financial Times. The islands are currently listed as the second least transparent jurisdiction in the world by the Tax Justice Network. The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) is reported to have written to companies seeking their views on the proposals which will reportedly include public disclosure of the names of companies and directors, with all directors required to pass a threshold of competence. The Cayman Islands has been under pressure to improve its companies’ corporate governance. The OECD and non-governmental organisations have expressed concern, as have pensions funds unhappy at the opacity of some hedge funds. CIMA did not respond to a request to comment.
LEARNING CENTRE | SOFT SKILLS
SOFT SKILLS BRIEFING:
HOW TO SHOWCASE HOBBIES AND INTERESTS ON A CV Demonstrating your soft skills capability can be difficult, especially if your work experience is relatively limited. Perhaps ‘extra-curricular’ activities can provide a solution? ‘Soft skills can be a real differentiator,’ says affiliate Jeremy Mungaldeen. ‘A hardworking individual can pass exams, but being able to learn and apply soft skills adds value to an individual and to their employer.’ Jeremy, an associate at PwC in Trinidad & Tobago, started studying accounting after leaving school. He began with CAT and passed his final ACCA exam when he was only 19. As an affiliate, Jeremy appreciates that working and studying can be very time consuming, making it difficult to develop soft skills, but he understands how important these skills can be, especially when job hunting: ‘As a full-time ACCA student I didn’t have any work experience when I first applied for a job, but I knew that employers valued extra‑curricular activities because they encourage key workplace skills,’ he explains. ‘I have always had a range of hobbies and interests, so I used the behaviours learnt from these activities to demonstrate the qualities employers wanted to see.’ A good example was Jeremy’s role as Debate Team captain while still Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
at school: ‘I took the team to its first national debate finals,’ he explains, ‘and at the interview for my current job I could show how this experience demonstrated teamwork, learning from peers, communication skills and the ability to persuade and influence others.’ Jeremy’s current hobbies continue to showcase valuable skills. ‘I love photography and editing pictures which I display on Facebook,’ he explains, ‘and I am actively involved in charity events hosted by my former school. These activities not only highlight my commitment to helping others and my ability to organise and communicate, but also demonstrate that I am a well‑rounded individual; this is what employers want to see.’ Jeremy is also acutely aware that the soft skills he has developed from his extra-curricular activities have positively influenced his working relationships with colleagues and clients. ‘Any soft skills that support leadership, compassion and consideration for others are vital for success in today’s employment market,’
concludes Jeremy. ‘Extra-curricular activities are the key to a richer CV. Sports activities, for example, can demonstrate teamwork, leadership and communication skills; a love of travel shows organisational ability and confidence; and even if all you do in your spare time is read, you’ll probably develop excellent analytical skills, ideal for writing and reviewing long documents. It’s always important to have interests outside of work and study, to help you relax and broaden your horizons – if these activities can also boost your workplace potential, then their value can be even greater.’ ACCA adds: ‘Often students are unaware that activities undertaken socially and voluntarily can be highly valued by employers and so should be added to a CV,’ comments ACCA qualifications manager Gareth Owen. ‘These can be especially valuable if they demonstrate personal effectiveness or organisational skills, and it’s even possible that certain activities –
‘It is very important that professional accountants have fully rounded skills, a fact recognised by educators, vocational trainers, and by employers.’ even if not technical – can count towards some ACCA practical experience requirements if verified by a suitably qualified person. It is very important that professional accountants have fully rounded skills, a fact recognised by educators, vocational trainers, and by employers. Technically excellent individuals who can also communicate and manage effectively tend to progress furthest in business as they posses the appropriate blend of accounting, professional and ethical skills required to persuade, motivate and inspire others, and to diffuse or resolve conflict when it arises.’
LEARNING CENTRE | AFFILIATE PROFILE
ELLIOTT HANNANT Audit senior, Film and Media, Saffery Champness, London, UK
A former forklift truck driver, supermarket stock controller and ‘sticky label manufacturer’, affiliate Elliott Hannant certainly has an unusual CV – and now an unusual job as an audit senior specialising in film and media with London-based chartered accountants Saffery Champness ‘Most of my work involves auditing film production companies and their claims for the film tax credit, as well as reviewing budgets for films in order to assess the value of the film tax credits,’ explains Elliott. ‘We audit films for the major Hollywood studios and for small independent producers, from those with budgets under $5m, to huge blockbusters costing over $200m. ‘Client visits often take place at studios such as Pinewood or Shepperton – amazing hives of activity – and the job also involves some interesting “know your client” activities. We sometimes attend advanced screenings and premieres (I recently attended the London premiere of The Hobbit), and every year we go to the Cannes Film Festival in France to give advice to aspiring filmmakers,
and to meet current and prospective clients.’ Having left school at 18, Elliott’s working life started with a string of part-time jobs before an employer gave him some good advice. ‘I was working for a builder at the time,’ he explains, ‘and as I was disaffected with my job, my employer suggested I become an accountant. I entered university as soon as I could and eventually gained a first class degree, which also gained me exemptions from a number of ACCA exams.’ Film and media sounds a fascinating area in which to work, but could such specialisation limit an accountant’s career, especially if they work in such an unusual sector? Not according to Elliott. ‘Specialisation does not mean that your career is restricted,’ he says, ‘and, after all,
‘as an auditor I still have to understand and work with all the relevant international standards, and through my work I’ve also developed very effective communication skills and good commercial awareness’ Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
it’s also the way that most ambitious accountants progress their careers. Even though I work in film and media, as an auditor I still have to understand and work with all the relevant international standards, and through my work I’ve also developed very effective communication skills and good commercial awareness. Some clients are intimidated by a suit and tie, whereas others are very laid back, and so you must be able to adapt your communication style – a skill relevant to many industry sectors.’ The British film industry is particularly buoyant at present, supported by tax credits which attract film makers from all over the world. As a result, Elliott expects to stay in the sector for the foreseeable future: ‘London is one of the world’s media centres and, as this sector is growing in the UK, I’ll probably stay here for a while. However, I feel there are still many career options open to me; film and media is not so different from any other industry from an accountant’s point of view – you still need to be good with numbers and to be good with people.’
Three ways to study. Three routes to success.
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Ali Ebrahim began his ACCA studies after completing A-levels in accounting and maths. While studying, Ali began to gain work experience as an ACCA tutor before joining his current employer, Deloitte, in its Karachi office. He joined the audit and assurance department as an audit junior and is now audit senior. ‘I mainly work on audit assignments, managing and motivating my team while keeping to strict deadlines,’ he explains. ‘I streamline tasks for junior members before refining their output for management review, and highlighting and resolving issues that are covered in the final report. I really enjoy my work – as my career has However you prefer to learn, Kaplan offer a study method to suit your needs. Combining ACCA progressed I have been involved approved study materials in increasingly complicatedwith expert tutor support, all of our courses are designed to help you and each assignment has passaudits, first time, offering real value for money. taught me something new.’ Ali combined work with * Based on ACCAwhich P7 classroom students at the June 2012 sitting from the majority of Kaplan’s UK centres. study, was,part hetime admits, ‘a big challenge’. To cope he developed a strategic approach to managing his commitments. ‘I would always fulfil workplace
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LEARNING CENTRE | MEMBER PROFILE/exam technique
ALI EBRAHIM Acca member, teacher and auditor
Ali Ebrahim, audit senior at M Yousuf Adil Saleem & Co in Karachi, Pakistan, tells us about his journey to membership and discusses how, as an acca teacher, he is giving something back to the profession Ali Ebrahim began his ACCA studies after completing A-levels in accounting and maths. While studying, Ali began to gain work experience as an ACCA tutor before joining his current employer, Deloitte, in its Karachi office. He joined the audit and assurance department as an audit junior and is now audit senior. ‘I mainly work on audit assignments, managing and motivating my team while keeping to strict deadlines,’ he explains. ‘I streamline tasks for junior members before refining their output for management review, and highlighting and resolving issues that are covered in the final report. I really enjoy my work – as my career has progressed I have been involved in increasingly complicated audits, and each assignment has taught me something new.’ Ali combined work with study, which was, he admits, ‘a big challenge’. To cope he developed a strategic approach to managing his commitments. ‘I would always fulfil workplace responsibilities first and
then focus on my studies, sacrificing leisure time for study if work was too demanding,’ he says. ‘I also created a study plan with weekly targets, which allowed for days off if I was ill or had too much work. I recommend this approach but also advise students not to use targets as barriers – if you can study more than your target then do so, as you will reach your goal more easily.’ As well as work and study, Ali has continued to teach ACCA students for the past five years, and is now an ACCA tutor at KNS Institute of Business Studies in Karachi. Based on his teaching – and student – experience, Ali knows that there are no shortcuts to exam success. ‘As a tutor, my sincere advice to all students is to adopt a structured, step-by-step approach to study, and this also allows you to use the skills you have gained in your work. Teaching is my passion and I believe that sharing knowledge improves society as a whole.’ Ali achieved ACCA membership in 2011, when only 23, evidence
‘I would always fulfil workplace responsibilities first and then focus on my studies, sacrificing leisure time for study if work was too demanding’ Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
of his hard work and dedication. But was the effort worthwhile? ‘As a member I have reaped significant career benefits,’ he says. ‘Deloitte recognises the importance of ACCA members and values them highly. But I also chose to study with ACCA because of its global recognition; ACCA membership gives me access to job opportunities worldwide.’
handwriting Improve your
AND boost your exam chances
Examiners consistently warn trainees over the legibility of their handwriting on exam scripts. ALEX MILLER offers advice on how to avoid losing unnecessary marks this time around Trainees are often reminded that large numbers of exam scripts were unreadable – meaning that scores of students probably lost valuable marks simply because markers couldn’t read their answers. This seems to be an inexcusable way to lose marks, especially when you consider the blood, sweat and tears – not to mention the costs involved – in both studying and revising. Poor handwriting and layout are often key culprits in low exam marks. And handwriting is an important concern for a number of markers: ‘If markers cannot read what a candidate has written no marks can be awarded.’ It sounds so simple – and it is. Clear handwriting should be considered as an essential part of good exam technique – and while we are not all blessed with good handwriting, the good news is there are a number of simple ways to improve it. One of the keys to neatness is uniformity – consistency looks best. Try to make sure that all of your letters slant in the same direction at the same angle and that you allow a consistent amount of space between each letter and word. If this is currently not the case with your writing, begin by practising the letters you (or a family member, colleague, etc) consider most illegible and repeating for several
minutes every day as part of your revision. Experiment with the size and slant of your letters to find a writing style that feels comfortable – and looks good and is clear. Take every opportunity possible in the run up to exams to write longhand instead of using a keyboard. If you need to write a report or proposal, consider doing your first draft using pen and paper; you can polish and edit as you type it up. At the same time, write out to-do lists or shopping lists, rather than using a computer. If none of these ideas appeal, consider maintaining a journal and set aside a little time each day to practise your handwriting strokes. Try to practise your handwriting for a few minutes each day. By doing so you should start to see improvements quite quickly. Try making up sentences that use letters in different ways, as this will better cover all possibilities within the exam hall. Also experiment with different pens to find a type that feels comfortable and smooth and that works for you in terms of thickness and writing look. Consider both ballpoint and fountain pens to see what works best for you. On the technical side, you should not be using your wrist and fingers to write – that will lead to cramped, stilted writing, as well as fatigue during the exam. Instead, your fingers should hold the pen in place and act as a
guide, and all the movement should come from the shoulder girdle. Your shoulder and forearm should move as you write, but your wrist and fingers don’t. This helps you write in a more fluid, efficient style. It takes practice and can feel strange to begin with, but these muscles don’t get tired as quickly as those in your wrist and fingers. On exam days try to remember not to grip your pen too hard. Nerves can cause students to do this without you realising and it will lead to muscle ache and fatigue. Another tip is to keep your feet flat on the hall floor, don’t slouch and rest your elbows on the desk or table as you write to avoid tiredness. Also, make sure your hands are not sweaty – if you get nervous in exams and are prone to getting sweaty palms make sure you take paper towels or tissues into the exam. Keeping your hands dry will help you to maintain a secure grip on your pen. For left-handed writers – who effectively have to endure right‑handed exam desks – arrange your paper or notebook in relation to left side of your body. Consider moving the paper left of your body’s midline and tilting the paper so the top right corner of your script is closer to you than the top left corner. Your arm will be more or less perpendicular to the bottom of the page and you will likely find this positioning will improve your writing.
LEARNING CENTRE | BSc degree/SIMPSON SCHOLARSHIP
Jane Towers-Clark, programme lead, BSc (Hons) Applied Accounting, Oxford Brookes University:
I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to the latest graduates of the BSc (Hons) Applied Accounting – it is a tremendous achievement and you should be proud of this. By gaining the degree you have shown a robust understanding of not only the technical skills required of accountants but also of the personal and transferable skills and these will serve you in good stead with your future career. I would also like to offer my sincere congratulations to Ahmad Tariq Sikandari who won the Simon William prize for the best Research and Analysis Project in Period 23, to Azim Bobonorov, who won the Matthew Sykes Memorial Prize for the best Research and Analysis Project also in Period 23 and to Marcus Kittel who won the Simon William prize for the best Research and Analysis Project in Period 24. These students will be invited for presentation at the graduation ceremonies in 2013. The unique relationship between Oxford Brookes University and ACCA means that you are part of a global programme of study that meets the criteria for a degree
and a professional accounting qualification. You have achieved a standard in your research and analysis skills that should give you an advantage in a difficult job market. Of particular importance in the current climate is that you have shown a commitment to the ethical standards required of accountants and an understanding of the social and corporate responsibility of businesses and I would urge you to ensure that you maintain high standards of these in your working practice. I wish you all the best in building on the foundations that Oxford Brookes University and ACCA have given you in your careers and beyond.
View the latest graduates from Periods 23 and 24: www.accaglobal.com/content/ dam/acca/global/PDF-students/ 2012s/obu_2324.pdf ▶
‘The unique relationship between Oxford Brookes University and ACCA means that you are part of a global programme of study that meets the criteria for a degree and a professional accounting qualification’ Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
BSc (Hons) applied accounting Research and Analysis Project submission PERIOD 26: key dates 8 April 2013 Latest date to complete the Professional Ethics module 1 May 2013 Earliest receipt of Research and Analysis Projects (RAP) by Oxford Brookes University 22 May 2013 Latest receipt of RAP by Oxford Brookes University September 2013 Oxford Brookes University BSc Examination Board 25 September 2013 RAP and BSc results dispatched Please note that Research and Analysis Projects must arrive at Oxford Brookes University’s ACCA office by the date of latest receipt. Any projects received after the date of latest receipt will be returned to students unmarked.
access further details on the oxford brookes bsc (hons) applied accounting: www.accaglobal.com/bsc ▶
simpson scholarship The Simpson Scholarship rewards talented ACCA students who have already proven themselves in the ACCA exams Each year, the Simpson Scholarship will fund the exam and registration fees of five students for a period of five years or until they become members – whichever happens first. In order to be eligible for the scholarship, you must meet strict qualification criteria and submit a 1,000-word essay. If you meet the eligibility criteria for the scholarship then the next step is to submit your application to ACCA. When the judging panel are deciding on the winning essays, they are looking for five that will really inspire them and where they can see that the candidate will really benefit from receiving it. So think about how the Simpson Scholarship will benefit and make a difference to you and tell us about it. For example, it could be: ¤ how it will make a positive contribution to the your career ¤ how it will make a positive contribution to the community in which you live ¤ how it will make a positive contribution to the accounting profession in your country ¤ how it will help with your journey to membership. Your essay must be personal to you and inspiring. find out if you are eligible and how to apply: www.accaglobal.com/ scholarships ▶ The 2013 closing date for receipt of scholarship applications is 3 May.
Putting values and morality back into the heart of finance Professionalism, ethics and public value are the foundations of being an ACCA member. That is why we are supporting the Robin Cosgrove Prize and its aim of creating an international conversation on the sustainable future of the finance sector based on strong ethical awareness and commitment to integrity. The prize promotes greater awareness among young people around the world of the benefits of ethics in finance. Students and members under the age of 35 are
eligible to submit an unpublished paper that addresses the role of ethics in finance. Do you have ideas about innovative ways in which ethics and integrity can be understood and promoted in finance? The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2013.
Find out more and register your interest: www.robincosgroveprize.org ▶
Coming soon: ACCA student bloggers
The new ACCA Student blog is on its way! Focusing on study-related topics, this new blog will feature students sharing their experience of their ACCA journey. Be sure to check out your new tool for revision tips, study advice and exam techniques – and you’ll be able to join in by commenting on posts to share your experience. Watch this space for updates!
LEARNING CENTRE | PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE
SHOULD YOU MOVE JOBS TO GAIN WORK EXPERIENCE? Not all students can complete their practical experience requirement (PER) with the same employer. we meet two members who had to move jobs to gain the experience they required PER is essential as it shows that you have the abilities required to become an ACCA member. Achieving the variety and breadth of experience required is a detailed process, and although many employers help students gain the exposure they require, it can be difficult to maintain progress if workplace opportunities are limited. Moving jobs is one way to keep PER on track, but what should students do to make sure a move is successful? ‘Changing jobs is a personal choice, and depends on how easy it is to move around, but for me it was a very successful strategy,’ says ACCA member Louise Preston. Louise began her career as an accounts assistant in a photography business before moving on, first to a motor dealership and then to a major credit card company before finally gaining her ‘dream job’ with current employer, animal health company Intervet. ‘My first role was a good career starting point but I wanted more analytical experience, which I gained at the car dealership; here I was tasked with improving processes, so I had
to be certain that I understood the data I was looking at. At the credit card company I added business partnering to my CV, and gained more autonomy and responsibilities such as budget preparation and delivering monthly management accounts.’ ACCA member Mohammad Matloob had a similar experience; after starting his career as an audit trainee at a firm of chartered accountants, he moved on to become deputy finance manager at a sugar mill before deciding to join a consultancy firm based in Karachi. Now an ERP consultant, he is currently deployed in a fleet management company in Johannesburg. ‘I moved jobs to gain more experience,’ he says, ‘but also because I felt I was being held back by old fashioned company cultures that meant that junior staff were dominated by a senior management team that did not encourage innovation.’ Moving jobs can bring more experience, but does it make the PER process more challenging? ‘I tried to record my PER as I went along,’ says Louise. ‘I did have to
you may find opportunities for job sharing or secondments that will provide the extra experience you need Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
ask one former employer for sign off, and with hindsight it would have been easier to get progress signed off continually.’ For Mohammad, however, moving jobs was not an issue: ‘I gained most of my experience while working in the audit firm, but as this was before I formally began recording my PER I had to go back to my audit manager for sign off, but for me this was not a problem.’ Despite their positive experiences, both Louise and Mohammad advise students to fully explore their options before making a move: ‘If you raise your concerns with your manager, you may find opportunities for job sharing or secondments that will provide the extra experience you need,’ says Louise. Mohammad adds: ‘If family, location or other commitments make it difficult to leave your current job, consider additional work, such as consultancy or teaching, which can also count towards your PER (but check with ACCA first). Extending your workload can be challenging but not impossible.’ If your current role is limiting PER progress, perhaps it is time to consider your options more proactively. If you cannot work with your employer to gain the experience you need, you may find that moving jobs not only maintains PER momentum but can also accelerate your career.
‘Discuss PER at every line manager review to ensure future workplace objectives reflect PER needs – this will keep a focus on PER and quickly identify gaps that need plugging’
MOVING JOBS TO PROGRESS PER – five TOP TIPS Louise Preston
Assistant Site Controller, Intervet, UK:
1 2 3 4
F ocus on finding roles that meet the next stage of your PER requirements while building on and expanding your current experience Get your performance objectives signed off as you achieve them – not only does this keep you up to date but avoids future problems if mentors move on to other jobs before updating your records Constantly maintain your My Experience record so that you log all relevant work experience Discuss PER at every line manager review to ensure future workplace objectives reflect PER needs – this will keep a focus on PER and quickly identify gaps that need plugging (and which might prompt a career move) Although moving job can be successful it can also be disruptive and slow PER progress (in the short term at least), so only consider it as a last resort
Mohammad Matloob Functional Consultant – Dynamics AX, Mazik Global, Pakistan:
1 2 3 4
K eep yourself up to date on employment prospects for accountants not only locally but nationally, and possibly internationally Always keep your CV up to date and ready to use if the right opportunity comes along If you feel stuck in your job then move, especially if senior management does not proactively develop the careers of junior team members Some accountancy jobs can limit more than just technical experience; my move from finance to consultancy helped me develop soft skills, such as communication and presentation skills, which can really improve international job prospects Constantly review your options and ask senior colleagues for advice – but only ask colleagues who know about the needs of the profession
LEARNING CENTRE | FOUNDATION LEVEL
FOUNDATIONS IN PROFESSIONALISM At ACCA we believe accountants who are good – ie are professional and ethical – make good accountants. As a professional accountancy body, it is important for ACCA to ensure all our students understand what it means to work and act professionally and ethically in the workplace. If you study for any of our Foundation level qualifications and want a certificate as proof of the exams you have completed, you are required to complete Foundations in Professionalism. This is an online, interactive module, designed to help you develop your understanding of what it means to act professionally and ethically in the work you carry out.
Each section of the module contains a range of interactive exercises and tasks to develop and consolidate learning and understanding. If, after finishing the test, you are deemed not to have demonstrated sufficient knowledge, you are automatically informed of your weakest areas so that you can be referred to these sections directly to review the materials, re-work the end of section exercises and then take the test again. You can complete Foundations in Professionalism before or after completing the exam component of the qualification you are aiming to achieve, and you only need to successfully complete the module once – even if you
decide to complete one or more of our qualifications. There is no set time allocated to completing Foundations in Professionalism. You are encouraged to complete the module at your own pace to allow yourself time to reflect on what you have learnt. You can access Foundations in Professionalism through myACCA. Professionalism is at the heart of all ACCA’s mainstream qualifications. Globally, there is an increasing emphasis on the need to integrate ethics and professionalism into accounting qualifications because everyone recognises the need for accountants working and studying at all levels to behave professionally and ethically.
Practical experience Foundations for CAT work experience The practical experience requirement for Certified Accounting Technicians, known as Foundations in Practical Experience Requirement (FPER), is an essential element of the CAT Qualification. To complete the FPER, you must obtain at least one year’s supervised work experience in a relevant accounting or finance role and meet the minimum competence requirements for the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) Qualification. You must also provide evidence that you have fulfilled
Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
the Foundations in Practical Experience Requirement by completing the FPER Record. WHY IS PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE IMPORTANT? To work effectively in an accounting technician role, it is very important that you are able to demonstrate competences in a wide range of both personal effectiveness and technical skills. These will enable you to work independently and to support professional accounting staff in a range of business areas, including bookkeeping, financial administration, cost accounting and in other roles within financial accounting, management
accounting, treasury, finance, within the private or public sector, or within financial shared service centres. The CAT exams provide you with the knowledge and understanding that underpins competent performance in the workplace. However, to be fully effective at work, the knowledge and skills acquired through study should be applied and demonstrated practically. To find out more about practical experience at the Foundation level, please visit www. accaglobal.com/en/student/ qualification-resources/foundationaccountancy/foundations-cat/catpractical.html
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LEARNING CENTRE | study skills
Take a look at our exam technique videos for a range of ACCA papers Paper F4 Answering scenario questions
Paper F5 Variances
Paper F5 Decision-making techniques
Paper F5 Question debrief – Question 1 from the June 2012 paper
Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
Paper F5 Question debrief – Question 5 from the June 2012 paper
Paper F7 Cash flows and interpretations
Paper F8 Audit evidence
Paper F9 business finance
Paper P1 FOCUS ON RISK
Paper P2 Question 1: Groups with accounting standards
Applying the option pricing theory to investments
Paper P5 PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT
Paper P3 APPROACHING QuESTION 1
Risk assessment and audit procedures
look out for new study support videos relevant to Papers F8, F9 and P6 (UK)
FEATURES | careerS
ARE YOU CAREER READY? In the 21st century, a ‘career’ is not just a job but a commitment to lifelong learning. Iwona Tokc-Wilde discovers what other qualities and employability skills shape today’s finance professionals This year you may be embarking on your first job search or wanting to take the next step on the career ladder, but how do you know if you are ‘employable’ or ‘career ready’? What does it even mean? There are various definitions, mostly pointing to acquisition of key academic skills together with learning technical skills for a specific job. Other definitions focus on broader workplace
Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
competencies such as teamwork, time management and critical thinking, and on knowledge and qualifications needed in a particular industry sector such as financial services. In fact, to be career ready in our ever-changing global economy means all of these things, but there are also certain specific qualities and skills that every finance professional should gradually acquire. Adaptability Getting your career off to a good start can be difficult when many ‘preferred employers’ put their recruitment for permanent staff on hold. ‘Be flexible when considering job opportunities,’ says Nicholas Kirk, managing director at Page Personnel Finance. ‘Many candidates overlook that temping or contract work can be good ways of getting a foot in the door of the companies you want to work for.’ It is about taking a long-term approach to your career, plotting how to get to where you want to be and adjusting your plans as your circumstances, and the jobs market, change. You may have to be flexible when it comes to location too. ‘Consider the regions that will offer you the best chance of employment and be open to relocation,’ says Chris O’Connell, chief executive of specialist recruiter Timothy James Consulting. To progress your career, show adaptability by taking on different roles at work. ‘Even though this may mean putting in a few extra hours, volunteer for projects and seek out secondment
opportunities. This shows you’re open to learning new things and can cope with challenges,’ says Kirk. Real-life work experience Temping, internships and even volunteering are also good ways of gaining some workplace or industry experience. ‘In the current economic climate employers are very specific about what they want from candidates and experience in their particular industry sector is often close to the top of the list,’ says Kirk. Or, if you are already further along your career path but want to change industry sectors, consider how you can demonstrate your transferable skills and experience. ‘For example, if you don’t have direct experience in
career success may hinge on this very ability. ‘The most successful business people are not those with the best qualifications, the highest IQ or the most hardworking – the greatest success is enjoyed by those who are the best at selling themselves,’ says Adam Riccoboni, author of The Art of Selling Yourself and co-founder of MBA & Company, a global network of freelance management consultants and accountants. ‘Selling yourself is about persuading others to choose you – a hard task in a global economy when you may be competing with individuals from all over the world,’ says Riccoboni. ‘So boost your profile whenever possible, stay engaged with the latest trends and maintain professional networks.’
Seek advice from agencies about improving your CV and your skills set, network and continually write to prospective companies – make yourself known without becoming a pest! the pharmaceuticals sector but want to work for a company like GlaxoSmithKline, you may need to show a track record of working in another large multinational with a strong focus on technology and research and development,’ says Kirk. A sideways move may then be possible. ‘But the market is hard so you may need to persevere and not get disheartened,’ says O’Connell. ‘Seek advice from agencies about improving your CV and your skills set, network and continually write to prospective companies – make yourself known without becoming a pest!’ Ability to sell yourself Making yourself known goes hand in hand with being able to sell yourself to potential employers. In fact, your
Of course, persuading others to choose you is your only priority when you go to job interviews. ‘If the organisation is looking for someone with leadership qualities, think about when you have demonstrated leadership in the past – in previous roles, during work experience or when involved in societies at university or sports teams,’ says Richard Waite, Grant Thornton UK’s graduate recruitment specialist. ‘You need to be able to talk with ease about the skills you can bring, with plenty of relevant examples.’ Communication skills This is paramount because, even if you have all the required technical skills, qualifications and experience, you will get nowhere
FEATURES | careerS unless you can communicate these to your audience. ‘Also, strong communication skills like the ability to clearly and concisely articulate complicated information are essential for anyone starting out on a career in finance,’ says Kirk. Don’t forget the basics, though, especially when it comes to your CV and covering letter. ‘In our 2013 Page Personnel Finance Salary Survey, 18% of hiring managers reveal that basic communication skills such as good spelling and grammar are the key skills that candidates lack,’ says Kirk. Relationships and commercial awareness ‘The trend towards valuing communications skills is reflective of a broader change in the role of finance professionals,’ adds Kirk. ‘Companies need business leaders who can manage relationships with key stakeholders effectively and who can persuade and influence to deliver the right outcomes.’ At the beginning of your career, look for opportunities to develop your people skills in your social life. ‘Confidence will come with practice, so at work put yourself forward for any situations that involve managing relationships and dealing with people.’ Commercial awareness is also a priority for most modern employers. ‘Yet, in our survey, 20% of hiring managers listed this as the skill job seekers most tend to lack,’ says Kirk. How do you learn commercial awareness? ‘Try to understand how and why whatever you’re doing contributes towards maximising profitability for the business,’ says Kirk. Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
‘Being career-ready is all about the right mindset: being fully engaged with the job opportunity and with what you will bring to it. It’s about being ready to challenge yourself.’ Effective use of technology Your IT skills must always be up to date too. ‘The modern business world has online and offline technology platforms that you need to familiarise yourself and keep up to date with, but don’t forget the basics such as Word and Excel,’ says O’Connell. Surprisingly, many respondents to Page Personnel’s survey said people needed to brush up on their Excel skills. ‘Watch online tutorials on complex formulas and tools in the latest version of MS Office, like formula-based conditional
formatting, to keep your skills current,’ advises Kirk. You need to be fully technology‑literate when job searching too. ‘Use job alerts delivered to your mobile phone or tablet, and update your LinkedIn profile so that employers can find you easily,’ says Kirk. ‘You should also double-check your Facebook privacy settings – we are seeing more and more employers going on Facebook to check out shortlisted candidates.’ The right attitude According to Page Personnel’s survey, the number one skill that today’s candidates lack is the right attitude to work – they lack drive, ambition, work ethic and enthusiasm. ‘It can sound like a cliché, but being prepared to do what it takes to get the right result, even if it goes beyond your day-to-day responsibilities, is the most important factor in progressing your career,’ says Kirk. You need to demonstrate the same drive and enthusiasm during job interviews. ‘Tell us what attracts you to the position, why you chose to apply and what excites you about the possibility of working at a firm such as ours, as opposed to at one of our competitors,’ says Waite. ‘Being career-ready is all about the right mindset: being fully engaged with the job opportunity and with what you will bring to it. It’s about being ready to challenge yourself.’
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WANTED FEATURES | How technology is changing accountancy
accountants Student Accountant | march 2013
Technology has revolutionised the way accountants work, and it will continue to drive change at an unrelenting pace. Iwona Tokc-Wilde examines what it means for those wanting a career in accountancy Technology has always played a big role in keeping track of numbers. The abacus, the first known tool for arithmetic calculations, first appeared in the Middle East around 2700 BC and was used by merchants and clerks until the adoption of the modern written numeral system. In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci drew diagrams of the first mechanical adding machine, a precursor to the first mechanical calculator constructed 200 years later. The first electronic calculator made an appearance in 1961, although it was so big it wouldn’t have fitted in your pocket. Size was also a major disadvantage of the first computers, which filled entire rooms and were capable of only simple calculations. But the technological advances in the second half of the 20th century quickly led to the development of the small desktop computer, followed by the laptop and increasingly sophisticated software. Today, PCs and laptops are being replaced by powerful tablets like the Apple iPad and Google Nexus, and there are apps for everything. We no longer need to leave the office as we can meet with clients via Skype, share documents with Dropbox and capture signatures with DocuSign. When you add to this mix the latest generation of smartphones, you may not need an office at all – according to research from Sage, 71% of accountants today work away from the office on a regular basis; some
accountants work entirely in the cloud or online. These new technologies allow for greater efficiency, connectivity and responsiveness in the accountant/ client relationship. But what exactly does it all mean for you? Collaboration in the cloud Accounting firms especially benefit from the cloud (in simple terms, the word cloud is used as a metaphor for the internet). ‘Cloud computing means that accountants and clients can have access to data at the same time and from anywhere in the world,’ says Rakesh Shaunak, partner and group chairman at accountants MHA MacIntyre Hudson. For some clients, particularly smaller ones, cloud bookkeeping and accounting systems make it more cost‑effective to manage their finances too. As many such cloud platforms are self-service and business owners input much of the data themselves, this
could leave accountants to ‘only’ manage their clients remotely, from a tablet or even a smartphone. ‘This simplification and redistribution of work means most accountants will soon take on a more consultative role – advising clients rather than undertaking the actual “grunt work” of accountancy,’ says Jonathan Norris from online accountants Crunch. ‘In addition to mastering the overall principles of working with cloud software – for example, having multiple team members collaborating on a project in real-time – you should therefore
For some clients, particularly smaller ones, cloud bookkeeping and accounting systems make it more cost-effective to manage their finances
FEATURES | How technology is changing accountancy focus on honing skills such as building client relationships.’ However, in the context of the cloud, being connected and able to provide clients with accurate up-to‑date information at all times is far more important than using the latest software. ‘Today, we’re all brought up on the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook, and business owners see their accountant as an extension of their business,’ says Jim Scott, managing director at Sage Accountants Division. ‘The next generation of accountants need to understand that servicing their clients goes beyond simply producing accounts – they should be prepared to provide guidance as and when needed, in person and online.’ Social media is where you need to be Technology-enabled social media, particularly LinkedIn, is also now at the heart of how accountants interact with their clients and contacts. ‘Our research shows the number of LinkedIn users in a typical top 50 accountancy firm increased by over 27% in 2012,’ says Tim Prizeman, director at accountancy public relations specialists Kelso Consulting. ‘As your career progresses, it’ll be more about “making things happen” and less about using technical skills,’ he says. And this is where LinkedIn could prove invaluable. ‘It allows you to create a supercharged contacts book for keeping in touch with useful people who would otherwise drift off your radar,’ says Prizeman. ‘People use it to “open doors” to acquire clients, develop partnerships with referrers, source finance, and to fix problems in an emergency.’ Rakesh Shaunak agrees: ‘Referrals are a huge source of business for any accountancy firm, so using LinkedIn as a means of keeping in touch with your clients, and being front of mind when your contacts need advice, is essential.’ Granted, you Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
may still need to meet a new contact in the physical world to pitch for work. ‘However, taking 10 minutes to research them online before you meet could mean the difference between winning their business or not,’ says Shaunak. ‘Of course, this works both ways and any information available about you in the public domain should demonstrate your professional attitude and expertise in any specific sectors,’ he adds. Recruitment and training on the go Your technical and social media abilities and track record are what employers now commonly consider when screening candidates. As for the candidates searching for jobs, how technology-savvy do you have to be to bag the best job opportunities? ‘Candidates have changed the way they look for new positions over the last few years,’ says James Smith, associate director at financial recruiter’s Morgan McKinley. ‘Many use job websites to assess the market and come to their own conclusions on what is available, which can make applying for jobs quick and easy. But, when applying online, how do you find out about the company’s culture? How do you know this is the right move for you?’ asks Smith. Also, some of the best positions are not advertised online. ‘A good recruiter will know about them so, to find your ideal role, you need to both use your technical skills and build relationships with the right recruiters,’ says Smith. Technology has also changed what we expect in terms of training, as well as how we receive it. ‘These days our trainees are extremely IT aware and expect us to facilitate their study through electronic means,’ says Ian Phillips, deputy managing partner at Duncan & Toplis. ‘We achieve this with webinars, online courses and interactive online training sessions. The generation joining the firm
now takes many of these cloud facilities for granted in their social lives, which means they can quickly come to terms with how similar technologies can form the bedrock of their studies and their working lives too.’ While e-learning has been a standard training offering in many organisations for some time, there is a new kid on the block: mobile, or m-learning. It supplements more traditional training by providing learning in shorter and more manageable chunks, in a location and at a time of your choice. ‘E-learning has become dull, very long and compliance-based. Also, people are now looking to their smartphones to support them in a whole range of lifestyle activities, from learning how to cook to acting as a fitness aid, and this trend of having content on-the‑go is now spilling into how training is delivered in the workplace,’ says Gerry Griffin, founder of Skill Pill, a mobile-learning company. Skill Pills are two-minute audio-visual training briefings delivered directly to mobile devices or via the web, such as the Mobile MBA programme that provides succinct overviews of topics including strategy and marketing, finance and accounting, human capital and operations, technology and change. And what can we expect next? We are already learning how to transfer information directly to the brain – experiments have been undertaken where individuals have transmitted numbers, colours and basic images to each other wirelessly. Perhaps in future we might be able to prepare accounts by the power of thought alone?
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FEATURES | SECTOR FOCUS
PHARMACEUTICALS Do you fancy a job in a groundbreaking sector in which it isn’t an exaggeration to say that your work may be a matter of life and death? If so, perhaps working in finance in the pharmaceutical sector is for you. Beth Holmes finds out more It just so happens that at the time of writing came an announcement that a vaccine to protect children against one of the most common and deadly forms of meningitis has been licensed for use in Europe. The 4CMenB vaccine licensed by the European Commission in January is the first to cover meningococcal B meningitis – until now vaccines had protected against only some of the bacterial types involved. Now it is licensed in the UK and other EC countries, it could be bought and used by healthcare providers. With tens of thousands of deaths from this particular strain across Europe, the journey from research through development to licensed product is as complex as it is life-saving but being involved in work like this may not leap out at you as an obvious career choice for an accountant. With global healthcare spending set to continue to
Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
rise but ageing populations – particularly in Western countries – placing increasing pressure on available government healthcare budgets, accountants working in the industry face considerable challenges, but the rewards of working with clients who, quite literally, save lives is, for many, worth it. Peter Howarth, operational director for accounting and finance at Badenoch & Clark, says: ‘The pharmaceutical sector has been affected by the economical downturn just as any other industry has. However, the groundbreaking work the industry is often involved in has meant the economic slowdown hasn’t resulted in drastic changes in the industry. ‘While there has been a drive to save costs, the downturn has also created opportunities for more joint ventures in terms of pooling resources and funding to develop new drugs.
‘In general, accountants in the pharmaceutical sector have moved away from purely crunching numbers into a more commercial role sitting directly with medical/scientific teams to give them advice on commercial decisions and whether decisions/ products are financially viable.’ However, technical accountants are still used to consolidate accounts, allocate costs to different divisions and drill down into the numbers where commercial accountants look into saving costs or prioritising investments. ‘Pharmaceutical accountants are increasingly being sought for in-house jobs as some companies believe it will be more efficient in the long run, and this has led to an increase in temp to permanent transitions. In addition, as the economic climate improves and companies become more confident in the market and industry the trend
Roles in pharmaceuticals are highly prized, and competition for such roles is fierce. ‘Candidates are attracted to the innovative environment, and also perceive that because it is such a large industry there is huge opportunity for growth within an organisation for higher levels of permanent recruitment will only get stronger,’ says Howarth. So what skills should you possess to make the biggest impact on a potential employer? ‘Due to the global nature of the larger pharmaceutical companies, accountants with additional language skills are an advantage,’ says Howarth. ‘Global supply chains often mean accountants may have to communicate with colleagues and suppliers in different countries, and with the emerging markets becoming more involved in the market and research environment language skills are often sought by multinationals. ‘Project accountants are often used to manage the budget of a specific project,’ he continues. ‘They will be involved in forecasting, ensuring the project is run on budget and also ensuring the project is running on time. This means accountants with project management skills are often sought.’ Roles in pharmaceuticals are highly prized, and competition for such roles is fierce. ‘Candidates are attracted to the innovative environment, and also perceive that, because it is such a
large industry, there is huge opportunity for growth within an organisation,’ says Howarth. He adds that to be successful at interview it is important to show a passion for the company and the work they do. ‘Understanding the technical jargon and terminology is also important as you may be interviewed by someone who will use highly technical language,’ he says. ‘The needs of accountants in companies that produce and patent drugs versus companies that wait for patents to run out then manufacture them are
different, and demonstrating this knowledge distinction will put candidates at an advantage. Having project management skills and commercial awareness will demonstrate to employers that you understand the commercial decisions these companies need to make and stand you in good stead with companies looking to hire.’
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Global healthcare facts Data from the World Health Organisation, which measured spending and medical infrastructure in nearly 200 countries across the globe, shows huge variations in health funding, depending on where you live. ¤ Cuba has some of the highest government health spending in the world – 91.5% of all health spending. It boasts 67.23 doctors per 10,000 population, the highest of any major country. ¤ Meanwhile, the UK has 101 nurses per 10,000 people, only behind countries like Norway and Germany. The UK also spends $3,480 per year on health – 9.6% of health spending – with government spending making up 83.9% of all health spending. ¤ Qatar has the lowest health spending in the world, 1.8% of GDP, followed by Burma (Myanmar) and Pakistan at 2.2%. The WHO says Burma’s government spends only $4 per person on healthcare. * Source: World Health Organisation
FEATURES | sector VIEW
SECTOR VIEW: public sector THE VIEW FROM:
Chloe Wood, ACCA MEMBER, The Department of Health, Leeds, UK The UK Government Department that provides ‘strategic leadership’ for public health, the UK’s National Health Service, and for social care
What is your role at the Department of Health (DH)? My role is split in two. I assist in the financial management of the European Economic Area (EEA) budget, which includes delivering forecasts and financial statements, and supporting the finance manager for the Overseas Healthcare team. I also provide finance business partnering advice to the National Health Service (NHS) arm’s length bodies (the executive agencies, special health authorities and non‑departmental public bodies that work with us), providing professional and technical financial support and advising on how to use budget under‑ and over-spends.
Have you always worked in the public sector? Yes – after completing a law degree I joined the police, first as an intelligence analyst, then as a financial investigator, which was an incredibly interesting role but one with limited opportunities for progression. Thinking about my longer-term career, I decided to train as an accountant and found a role at DH that offered accountancy training as part of the package. I may not stay in the public sector forever, but I Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
‘From talking to friends at college, the support I receive is just as good as that offered by the Big Four firms, and certainly better than some private sector employers’ have been with DH for over four years and really enjoy it – the people are great, the work varied and interesting, and the career opportunities are fantastic as the organisation is so big.
good pension scheme. However, higher private sector salaries often mean much longer hours and, in DH, the flexitime scheme (common to many public sector organisations) means that we never ‘work for free’, so if you work long hours you get that time back in terms of holiday; this rarely happens in the private sector and so reduces the benefit of the higher wages earned. Flexitime also improves the work/life balance, which is an important public sector value, and something that can suffer in the private sector.
What is the best thing about working in the public sector? I really appreciate the level of support I receive. Working together is valued highly across DH so I am always happy to help others and I receive similar support in return, which means I can be sure I am taking the correct approach when handling a problem. It also makes for a great workplace atmosphere where we have an open door policy and where nothing is too much trouble.
Are there any disadvantages? The benefits package is not as good as in the private sector, and the recession has resulted in a pay freeze (which has happened in other sectors as well), but we still have a very
How supportive was your employer while you studied for the ACCA exams? DH was incredibly supportive financially, and also gave me time off to attend weekday college classes and to sit exams. I think this level of support is common across the UK Civil Service, although perhaps not across the whole of the public sector. From talking to friends at
college, the support I receive is just as good as that offered by the Big Four firms, and certainly better than some private sector employers.
‘The size of the Civil Service means that career progression is fantastic, with opportunities available all over the country’
Does public sector experience give accountants particular skills, especially transferable skills? I have developed excellent communication and team working skills, both relevant to the private sector, and an ability to work to very tight deadlines in order to meet the needs of ministers, which has taught me how to prioritise and organise my workload – skills that are again relevant to other sectors. Although my knowledge of government accounts and
treasury budgeting is more specialised, the general accounting principles regarding the preparation of financial statements are the same whichever sector you work in.
What is career progression like? The size of the Civil Service means that career progression is fantastic, with opportunities available all over the country – which pleases me, being based in Leeds rather than London. I am hoping to be promoted shortly to a senior finance
manager or finance business partner role, both in the middle of the grade structure I work in. Realistically, over the next 12 years I could be promoted another four grades, with the final ‘jump’ to the top grade taking about four years. There are even more grades above this, but these relate to political positions and, even though I am ambitious, this is not the career path for me. However, a very determined accountant could reach the top of the Civil Service in around 20 years.
TECHNICAL 40 technical articles • updates to the ACCA Qualification in 2013 – ALL STUDENTS • CHANGES TO THE PAPER F5 SYLLABUS (FROM JUNE 2013) – Paper F5 • THE CONTROL ENVIRONMENt OF A COMPANY – PaperS FAU (INT) and (UK), F8 (INT) and (UK), P7 (INT) and (UK) • understanding the new legislation regarding intellectual property – Paper P6 (CYP) • understanding the four-year rule for dividends between cyprus tax-resident companies – Paper P6 (CYP) • TAXATION OF THE UNINCORPORATED BUSINESS – Paper P6 (UK)
42 examiner feedback from the december 2012 session
ACCESS THE TECHNICAL ARTICLE ARCHIVE ▶
Access videos to help support your studies in Papers F4, F5 (four videos), F7, F8, F9, P1, P2, P3, P4, P5 and P7. We’ll be releasing more videos in the near future
for more information on the foundation level ▶
TECHNICAL | LISTINGS
UPDATES to the ACCA Qualification in 2013 Relevant to all students Gareth Owen, ACCA qualifications manager, explains the planned updates to the ACCA Qualification syllabuses taking place in 2013 as part of the process of continuous syllabus maintenance and improvement. The article highlights the latest syllabus changes, including any minor structural changes to exams.
access the article here
Changes to the Paper F5 syllabus (from June 2013): what they mean to you Relevant to ACCA Qualification Paper F5 A number of areas have been deleted from the Paper F5 syllabus while other areas have been added to it. The purpose of this article is to remind students taking Paper F5 what the exact changes are by listing them in detail and also to explain how the changes may affect future exams by clarifying the kind of requirements that may be asked and, where appropriate, comparing them to previous question requirements.
access the article here
THE CONTROL ENVIRONMENT OF A COMPANY Relevant to ACCA Qualification PaperS F8 (INT) and (UK), P7 (INT) and (UK) and foundation level paper fau (Int) and (UK) The purpose of this article is to provide candidates with a more detailed appreciation of matters pertinent to an auditor, focusing on the need for the auditor of a large limited liability company (in the UK – a limited company) to evaluate the effectiveness of the company’s control environment.
access the article here
Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
Understanding the new legislation regarding intellectual property
Relevant to ACCA Qualification Paper P6 (CYP) An article in the January issue of Student Accountant provided an overview of the significant changes to the Paper P6 (CYP) syllabus following a number of recent amendments to tax legislation in Cyprus. This is the third in a series of articles considering these changes in greater detail, and explains the tax treatment of the new intellectual property regime for Cyprus tax‑resident companies.
access the article here
Understanding the four‑year rule for dividends between Cyprus tax-resident companies
Relevant to ACCA Qualification Paper P6 (CYP) The fourth, and final, article in the series considers the tax treatment of the four-year rule which, when applied, does not allow for the exemption from the imposition of special defence contribution (SDC) on dividends between Cyprus tax-resident companies.
access the article here
taxation of the unincorporated business
Relevant to ACCA Qualification Paper P6 (UK) Part one of two articles on the unincorporated business looks at the issues relating to a new business including the choice of business vehicle and the first years of trading. The second part then considers the extraction of profits, change of accounting date and the final years of a business.
access part 1 here access part 2 here
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AChieve more. BeCome more. 41
TECHNICAL | Feedback
EXAMINER FEEDBACK reports from examiners on the overall performance of candidates in DECEMBER 2012
FOUNDATION LEVEL PAPERS Paper FA1
Paper MA1 Paper FA2
Paper MA2 Paper FAB
Paper FMA Paper FFA
ACCA qualification PAPERS Paper F1
Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
RESOURCES all you need to know
From exam entry to recording practical experience, the following pages contain essential information for your journey to membership
44 staying connected
ACCA Connect: contact us 24/7
Exam fees and ways to pay
45 RULES AND REGULATIONS
Information about ACCA’s Rulebook and recent disciplinary proceedings
45 MY EXPERIENCE
Your online tool for recording practical experience
45 EXAM ENTRY
Information on entering for exams and claiming exemptions
46 JUNE 2013 EXAM SESSION
ACCA Qualification and Foundation level June 2013 exam dates
47 OXFORD BROOKEs UNIVERSITY bsc (hons) Information about the BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University
47 ACCA STUDENTS NOW ONLINE
Web-based system for exam results and other student services
APPROVED LEARNING PARTNERS
Search for a tuition provider using ACCA’s Tuition Provider Directory
FEES Annual subscription – 2013 All students eligible to attempt the June 2013 exams* will be liable for payment of the 2013 annual subscription fee. Please note that this is a separate fee to the initial registration/ re-registration fee. * Students registering/re-registering between November 2012 and 8 May 2013, who are eligible to attempt the June 2013 exam session, will be invoiced for their 2013 annual subscription in May 2013. The payment enables ACCA to provide you with services and support to assist you with your studies and training as you work towards gaining your qualification. Students who fail to pay fees when due (including exam/exemption fees) will have their names removed from the ACCA register.
firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)141 582 2000
For all enquiries, simply contact ACCA Connect – our global customer service centre. However you want to contact us – by phone or email – one of our expert advisers will be happy to assist you.
stay connected ACCA Connect is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year providing global support at times convenient to you. You can also access your myACCA account and the ACCA website for answers to many queries.
Contact details ACCA Connect tel: +44 (0)141 582 2000 email: email@example.com myACCA: https://portal.accaglobal.com Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
The following fees and subscriptions apply: Initial registration £79 Re-registration *£79 Annual subscription £79 *plus unpaid fee(s)
Exam fees for june 2013 (per exam) FOUNDATION LEVEL QUALIFICATIONS Papers FA1, MA1, FA2 and MA2 Early (8 March 2013) Standard (8 April 2013) Late (8 May 2013)
£42 £49 £195
Papers FAB, FMA, FFA, FTX, FAU and FFM Early Standard Late
£62 £71 £217
FUNDAMENTALs LEVEL SKILLS MODULE EXAMS Papers F4, F5, F6, F7, F8 and F9 Early £77 Standard £89 Late £235 Professional level exams Papers P1, P2 and P3 (and any two from Papers P4, P5, P6 and P7) Early £91 Standard £103 Late £251
Rules and Regulations
ACCA’s disciplinary procedures cover matters such as professional misconduct, misconduct in exams and breaches of regulations which include any actions likely to bring discredit to you, ACCA, or the accountancy profession.
If you already have some qualifications, you may not have to take all of the exams in the ACCA Qualification or Foundation level awards. These are called exemptions and mean that you will start your studies at the right level
READ THE ACCA RULEBOOK online
SHOULD I CLAIM? ▶
My Experience is ACCA’s tool for recording your practical experience. Its launch followed a consultation with trainees globally, the aim of which was to improve the process of recording practical experience and, therefore, make the journey to membership easier. FIND OUT MORE
HOW DO I CLAIM? ▶
Computer-based exams (CBEs) are available for the first seven of the Foundation level exams – Papers FA1, MA1, FA2, MA2, FAB, FMA and FFA (but not the specialist papers) – as well as for the Knowledge module exams (Papers F1, F2 and F3) of the ACCA Qualification. Sitting CBEs provides the following benefits: ¤ Flexibility – You are not restricted to June and December paper-based exam sessions as you can sit CBEs at any time of year. CBEs also offer flexibility for re-sits, which you can take at any time. There is no restriction on the number of times you can resit the exams by CBE. ¤ Instant results – Your result is displayed on the computer screen at the end of the exam. ¤ Results – Your results are uploaded by the licensed centre and will be transferred to your ACCA account within 72 hours. FIND OUT MORE
EXAM ENTRY information ACCA’s exam entry process offers you flexibility and can save you money. You can now access myACCA to: ¤ submit an exam entry at any time of the year ¤ enter for exams early and save money ¤ enter for the next two exam sessions ¤ make amendments to existing exam entries up until the standard entry closing date – including changing exam centre, variant papers or entering for exams.
Wednesday 5 June FA2 Maintaining Financial Records F7 Financial Reporting Thursday 6 June MA1 Management Information F8 Audit and Assurance P5 Advanced Performance Management
JUNE 2013 exam session The following dates have been confirmed for the next exam session: JUNE 2013 Week 1 3 to 7 June Week 2 10 to 12 June Exams will take place over an eight-day period with one session of exams each day. The exams will be held concurrently in five different time zones. The base starting times in each of these time zones will be: ¤ Zone 1 (Caribbean) – 08.00hrs ¤ Zone 2 (UK) – 10.00hrs ¤ Zone 3 (Pakistan and South Asia) – 14.00hrs ¤ Zone 4 (Asia Pacific) – 15.00hrs ¤ Zone 5 (Australasia) – 17.00hrs.
Local starting times will be set falling out from these base start times for every centre. Details of local start times can be found against each centre on the Examination Centre List accompanying your Examination Entry Form. Papers F1 to F3 are two‑hour exams, and Papers F4 to F9 and P1 to P7 are three‑hour exams. Monday 3 June FTX Foundations in Taxation F5 Performance Management P7 Advanced Audit and Assurance Tuesday 4 June MA2 Managing Costs and Finance FFM Foundations in Financial Management F6 Taxation P4 Advanced Financial Management
Student Accountant | MARCH 2013
Friday 7 June FAB Accountant in Business F1 Accountant in Business F9 Financial Management P6 Advanced Taxation Monday 10 June FAU Foundations in Audit F4 Corporate and Business Law P3 Business Analysis Tuesday 11 June FFA Financial Accounting F3 Financial Accounting P2 Corporate Reporting Wednesday 12 June FA1 Recording Financial Transactions FMA Management Accounting F2 Management Accounting P1 Governance, Risk and Ethics
exams will take place over an eight-day period with one session of exams each day
oxford brookes bsc (hons)
Eligibility The degree must be completed within 10 years of your initial registration on to ACCA’s professional qualification, otherwise your eligibility will be withdrawn.
Check your eligibility STATUS ▶ Professional Ethics module In order to qualify for the BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting, all students must first complete the nine Fundamental exams as well as the online Professional Ethics module. The Professional Ethics module is accessed via myACCA, but you
will only be given access to the module once you are eligible to sit Paper P1. The module does not need to be completed in one go, and you may therefore find yourself re-visiting the module as it takes approximately two to three hours in total to complete. Once you have fully completed it, you are required to write a completion statement, and a certificate will subsequently be sent to you. By completing this module, you will be gaining a better understanding of ethical issues in accounting, while giving you a chance to reflect on your own behaviours.
ACCESS myACCA ▶
KEEPING YOU INFORMED The quickest way for us to send you important information such as changes to exam entry and exam results is by e-communication (such as email or SMS) but we need you to give us your permission – it’s the law.
UPDATE YOUR DETAILS AND COMMUNICATION METHOD ▶
ACCA STUDENTS GO ONLINE ACCA rolls out web-based system for exam results and other student services ACCA has launched a fully online service for registration, exam entry, exam dockets, exam results and certificates to increase processing speed and reliability. Since 1 August 2012, these services have been available exclusively online – and are no longer issued as paper documents – in China, South Africa, Russia, Romania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Malta, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. These countries have now joined Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and the Ukraine, all of which converted to paperless status in 2011. Most students are currently interacting with ACCA online and this initiative reflects student demand for, and positive feedback on, our online services. ACCA has also introduced a service that lets students print out their results via the ACCA student portal, myACCA. Students in all countries can print an official notification of their results via myACCA. Paper copies of exam results will not be issued to students in the above listed locations.
Student Accountant March 2013 edition