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editor’s choice Welcome to the MAY issue of Student Accountant This issue includes a number of useful features to help you with your career development. We take a look at preparing for interviews and body language tips. We also share some helpful advice on managing your time effectively. Meanwhile, our sector focus this month is finance careers in the construction industry. Learning Centre includes advice from the latest prizewinners on improving your exam technique. We also take a look at the practical experience requirement and the options available to help you gain a wide range of experience. We show you how to perform a skills self-assessment and offer advice on how to manage your finances. We have a number of new technical articles for you relevant to audit, financial reporting and for students planning on doing the Oxford Brookes

University BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting. We also bring you details of the brand new examiner analysis interviews to help you with your exam preparation. Noticeboard contains important information about annual fees, exam results, exam entry, My Experience and the Oxford Brookes degree. Also, don’t miss your chance to receive tailored features and technical content straight to your phone/tablet or desktop from Student Accountant. Personalise your Student Accountant newswire today. We hope you enjoy this issue of Student Accountant. If you have any feedback, please contact us at 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











SA technical article archive

All technical content from Student Accountant is on ACCA’s website ▶


36 Student Accountant | MAY 2013

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CONTACTS Dean Westcott | President Barry Cooper | Deputy President Martin Turner | Vice President Helen Brand | Chief Executive Editorial Team

technical 43 TECHNICAL RESOURCES Access the technical article archive at: www. student/publications/ sa-archive.html

resources 47 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

Victoria Morgan | Editor Glen Patterson | Deputy Editor Jackie Dollar | Design Manager Jane C Reid | Designer Kate Jenkinson | Editorial Executive 49


Jamie Ambler | Digital Editor


Upload global your CV, acce ca s and fin reer opportu s d n in acco advice on ca ities untanc reers y at www .accac and finance areers .com

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South East Asian countries are not taking full advantage of the potential of digital technologies, according to the ASEAN Business Survey 2012 by Accenture.







Use online-based communication tools

Use internal social media platforms for greater knowledge sharing

Allow home‑working or staff to work flexible hours

Use social media to attract fresh talent

Allow employees to access customer sales data remotely

Allow employees to bring their own hardware and software to use at work

1 switzerland 2 Germany 3 Austria 4 Spain 5 UK 6 US 7 France 8 Canada 9 Sweden 10 singapore 11 Australia 12 New Zealand pulling power

Switzerland has pipped Germany as favoured tourist destination of the world, according to a report by the World Economic Forum. The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for 2013 placed the US, Canada and Barbados in the top three spots in The Americas; and the Seychelles and Mauritius, top two in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa. Student Accountant | may 2013


Reputational risk


Disruption of operations


increased cost of resources


Supply chain risk


Financing risk


The private sector has a responsibility to protect the natural environment is the finding of a recent ACCA paper called Natural Capital – What Do Accountants Think? Survey respondents also identified the top five risks that natural capital poses to operations in the private sector (see above). View the report at 50 countries were surveyed including the UK (15%), Malaysia 10%, Ireland (8%), Mauritius (6%), and Pakistan (4%). 17 sectors were covered, including construction, oil and gas, public sector, consulting, transport, and manufacturing.

Corporate success

63% agreed or strongly agreed that the long-term success of their organisations is dependent on the natural world. 81% agreed or strongly agreed that the private sector has a responsibility to protect the natural environment.


Lack of disclosure guidance


Lack of understanding


Lack of valuation methodologies


No stakeholder pressure

13% of respondents were CFOs or FDs, 5% were CEOs or other board directors, and 8% were financial controllers.


The issue is not material

Key barriers to reporting on natural capital

Respondents highlighted a number of barriers to reporting on natural capital, the most significant being a lack of disclosure guidance, a lack of understanding and a lack of methodologies.



CHINA CHINA China has overtaken Japan to become the world’s second largest box-office territory. China’s cinema audience last year was worth US$2.7bn, up from US$2bn in 2011 UK Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who privatised state monopolies and revitalised business culture in the UK, died last month

UK Student Accountant | may 2013

US Australian Adam Scott’s victory in the US Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Florida is thought to have earned him A$4m in endorsement fees alone


south africa south africa Russian president Vladimir Putin and Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff at the BRICS summit in South Africa that has agreed to launch a BRICS development bank as one of its global economic recovery initiatives VENEZUELA A woman holds a canvas showing part of late president Hugo Chavez’s face during the campaign to elect a new president



BAHRAIN Pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain target the country’s Formula One race, having forced the cancellation of the 2011 event CHINA China’s new president Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with new premier Li Keqiang, completing the transfer of power to a new panel of leaders



DISPATCH | NEWS ROUNDUP CEOs choose china CEOs have rated China the world’s top destination for foreign investment in a survey by PwC and the China Development Research Foundation. More than half of CEOs surveyed chose China above other major and emerging economies, attracted by its expanding consumer markets, skilled talent pool, and government incentives. ‘A major factor in China’s economic success has been its ability to attract foreign investment,’ said Dennis Nally, chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers International. ‘In 2012, China attracted US$111.7bn of global FDI, and we predict that China will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy in purchasing parity terms in four years’ time. But China will face new challenges, as emerging markets become more competitive in attracting foreign investment, widening the breadth of choice for enterprises globally,’ he added. KPMG HIT BY AUDITOR’S LEAK KPMG has resigned as auditor of Herbalife and Skechers after it emerged that a partner had supplied confidential market‑sensitive information to a golf partner for use in share trading. Scott London was lead audit partner for the companies and managed KPMG’s Los Angeles business unit. KPMG withdrew its audit reports for Herbalife for the 2010/11/12 years and audit reports for Skechers for the 2011/12 years, though there is no suggestion that the financial reports will need to be restated. London has admitted he supplied the information for cash and Rolex watches. KPMG’s chairman and chief executive for the US, John Veihmeyer, said: ‘We unequivocally condemn his actions, and deeply regret the impact that his violations of trust and the law have had on our clients and our people. KPMG will be bringing legal action against London in the near future.’ Student Accountant | MAY 2013

ACCA unveils competency framework

ACCA has published its competency framework, an interactive checklist that business leaders require from aspiring finance professionals. It demonstrates the different competencies developed through all elements of the ACCA Qualification (exams, ethics module and experience requirement) and links these competencies to jobs in finance. Helen Brand, ACCA chief executive, said: ‘A competency is defined as a fundamental knowledge, ability or expertise in a specific subject area or a specific behaviour. The ACCA Qualification addresses all the key competencies required by finance professionals, from performance and financial management and taxation, to Islamic finance, and the principles of integrated reporting. ‘We have developed this competency framework to ensure that aspiring finance professionals, employers and tuition providers are clear about the key skills demanded in an increasingly globalised and rapidly changing business environment.’ Access the competency framework at http://competencyframework. excessive slimming warning Standard setters and regulators have been warned against excessive slimming down of SMEs’ reporting requirements. The concerns are raised in an ACCA report, Protecting Stakeholder Interests in SME Companies, which stresses the need for SMEs to continue to meet effective reporting requirements. John Davies, ACCA’s head of technical, said: ‘This process of re-evaluating the costs

and benefits of statutory accounting and audit rules is something that is going on in many countries.’ When Singapore and Australia adopted simpler reporting obligations, compensatory measures were introduced to protect shareholders’ interests. CROSS-BORDER STANDARDS Issuers offering equity and plain debt securities in Malaysia, Singapore and

Thailand – the first countries to adopt the new ASEAN Disclosure Standards announced by the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum – now only have to comply with a single set of disclosure standards for prospectuses. Other member countries may follow on an opt-in basis when ready to do so. The aim is to bring greater efficiency and cost savings to issuers, thereby enhancing investment opportunities in ASEAN capital markets. IR DRAFT PUBLISHED The draft International Integrated Reporting Framework has been published. The Framework provides the foundations for the new reporting model that offers a more concise and consistent method for communicating the creation of value over time. Paul Druckman, chief executive of the IIRC, said: ‘Over the past three years, the IIRC has built consensus around the idea that the current corporate reporting model must change to meet the needs of today’s business and investment environment.’ CocaCola, Unilever, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank have been involved in developing and testing the framework. ACCA chief executive Helen Brand urged other stakeholders to take part in the consultation: ‘Having already produced our own annual report last year using the integrated reporting principles, we have seen the value this can bring.’ CHINA MILESTONE PwC’s China operation has successfully converted from a joint venture to a Special General Partnership. PricewaterhouseCoopers Zhong Tian LLP will begin operating officially on 1 July 2013. Although the firm’s existing joint venture licence does not expire until early 2018, the firm accelerated the process to show its support for the Ministry of Finance’s Special General Partnership initiative. Daniel Li, central China assurance leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers Zhong Tian

LLP, said the firm was excited to help advance the development of China’s accounting profession: ‘As the audit market embarks on this new journey, we remain a credible partner of the government and local enterprises.’ AUSTERITY CUTS CORRUPTION Corruption is falling victim to austerity programmes, according to a report presented to the European Parliament by the Hertie School of Governance, based in Berlin. The report, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Controlling Corruption in the European Union, found that bribery has fallen in countries bailed out in the euro crisis, including Italy, Spain and Portugal, and they have now introduced tighter spending controls. The report warned that controls remain insufficient

in some EU countries, including Slovenia and Slovakia, and that cuts to wages for judges and police officers could generate new incentives for corruption. PwC REGAINS SCHRODERS AUDIT Schroders has reappointed PwC as auditor, despite previously replacing the firm, which has been its auditor for more than half a century. KPMG was to have taken over from PwC, but subsequently told Schroders it was unable to take on the role because it ‘did not meet the regulatory requirements for independence for all relevant Group companies’. Following a competitive tender exercise, PwC has also won the audit of Cairn Energy, which was previously audited by Ernst & Young.

YOUNG ACCOUNTANT OF THE YEAR ACCA affiliate Masuzyo Mulenga of Zambia has won the International Accounting Bulletin’s Young Accountant of the Year award. The award is in recognition of her excellent financial reporting standards knowledge. The 25-year‑old is an audit and assurance manager at HLB Reliance, the Zambian member firm of the HLB International network. She was recently appointed by the company to help develop strategic growth and leadership, both for her firm and for HLB International in Southern and Eastern Africa. Masuzyo said: ‘I am greatly honoured and humbled by this award. Many thanks to International Accounting Bulletin and to HLB International for honouring me in this great way.’ Mukaba Mukaba, head of ACCA Zambia, said: ‘This is a great achievement for Masuzyo and we are very pleased at ACCA that she has been given this award – she truly deserves it.’

Masuzyo Mulenga proudly displays her Young Accountant of the Year award



How to:

be a team leader Student Accountant | may DECEMBER 2013 2012

You may be an excellent accountant, but learning the skills that will help you lead a team will stand you in good stead for your future career plans 13

LEARNING CENTRE | team leading Moving from staff-level to a supervisory role can be challenging with new skills and competencies to learn and exemplify. Just because a trainee excels at accountancy doesn’t necessarily mean they will be a good manager – it is important to be aware of this to undertake the right personal and professional development activities to move your career forward.

But putting your hand up for more responsibility, such as becoming a team leader, is a great way to get yourself noticed by senior staff and you should view it as a stepping‑stone to bigger things. If you can show senior management that you have the skills to delegate and manage your team so that they deliver, you will build up a reputation for being reliable and getting the job done. This reputation is key for you to be trusted with more responsibility in future. Phil Sheridan, managing director at Robert Half UK, says: ‘Not everyone will want to move up the career ladder. Many professionals are happy with working independently and do not want the added responsibility of moving into a leadership role. ‘But leading a team is a necessary step for any accountant looking to advance to a finance manager or financial controller role and certainly financial director or CFO later on. While you will develop your reputation in and out of your organisation, you will also likely develop a strong sense of  satisfaction, as you will be playing a leading role in developing corporate strategy. ‘Today’s finance leaders are doing much more than just crunching numbers; they’re the steward of their organisations, helping to steer

direction and strategy for growth and profitability.’ Having a strong mentor is essential as they will guide, help make the right career choices and provide an insight into developing leadership capabilities. Nicholas Kirk, Managing director at Page Personnel Finance, says: ‘If you’re learning how to become a team leader a mentor can provide you with an impartial and unbiased point of view on your performance and tell you how you’re really doing. Good leaders will use this insight to play to their strengths and work on their weaknesses.’ However, there are numerous potential challenges when moving into a supervisory role. If you have been promoted over someone else, there may be resentment or jealousy from other team members and you will need to manage these relationships if you are going to move the working relationship forward. You will also have to likely change some of your own habits or behaviour to present yourself as a leader to both your superiors and subordinates. You may also find yourself involved in more corporate politics, towing the corporate line even if it doesn’t align with your personal opinions. As a team leader it is essential to display strong team management, decision making, presentation and interpersonal skills in addition to strong technical accounting capabilities. Effective communication skills will always be required, whether you are leading an accounting team or reporting to the board of directors as CFO.

‘Today’s finance leaders are doing much more than just crunching numbers; they’re the steward of their organisations, helping to steer direction and strategy for growth and profitability.’ Student Accountant | MAY 2013

Kirk advises: ‘Trying to take on too much yourself instead of delegating work to your team is a common pitfall as sometimes it takes more time to delegate and review your team’s work than it does to do it yourself. Plan properly, be well organised and allow adequate time to delegate properly and it will pay off in the long term. ‘Showing frustration or anger over poor performance is always a mistake. Be professional and provide constructive criticism to your staff and they will respect you.’ Sheridan adds: ‘Change management, whether large or

small, can be difficult for staff, so it is important that you exhibit tact when looking to implement new measures or initiatives within your team. It is critical that you gain buy-in, so granting ownership and benchmarks for success is essential. Diplomacy is best. You’ll always get further by involving your team in the process than by dictating to them!’ For external inspiration when considering good team leaders, it may be worth noting the traits of England rugby captain Chris Robshaw and national team manager Stuart Lancaster. The pair

excel at their own craft, perform under pressure, tend to make the right calls at the right time and take risks if it is in the best interests of the team. Lancaster has also surrounded himself with colleagues who are proven winners with coaching experience and has enthusiasm for the role and exudes confidence signs of an experienced leader with the right knowledge of management tools and techniques to fall back on. Sheridan says: ‘These lessons can be applied in the boardroom and the office and represent a solid tenet for any team leader to follow.’

lessons for leaders authors of What Do Leaders Really Do? and What You Need to Know About Leadership, focus on the requisite attributes of successful leadership

Student Accountant | MAY 2013 Jeff Grout and Liz Fisher,


Rather than ordering their people to act, the most effective leaders are those who inspire others to perform their best in every situation. What we have found is that successful leaders use what can be termed ‘motivational shorthand’ – a variety of techniques that help to bring people on side.


The success of leaders who are promising change (or who are new to an organisation) depends on their ability to demonstrate that they are making a positive difference. Similarly, it takes time to change or improve a business and, until then, it is possible for momentum and goodwill to be lost. This is exactly where the ‘quick fix’ comes into play.


In modern leadership, visibility and approachability is the order of the day. It’s striking that some of the most popular and successful business leaders make a conscious effort to give the appearance of constant availability and approachability.


Followers like to think that their leaders have their best interests at heart and will always put them first.


Inevitably, any business or team has a set of behavioural rules, such as a dress code, holiday rota policy and so on. Imposing rules from above invariably creates tension, or even resentment, among staff. Techniques like these add weight to the argument that leadership is a skill that can be learned, at least in part. That’s not to say that a poor leader can automatically transform their fortunes by employing some of these methods: it is one of the hazards of modern leadership that people can always spot a phoney.job will create 1,300 little improvements to the job over a five-year period.

Originally published by ACCA Careers ▶



MANAGING YOUR Experts at handling cash at work, we bring you some financial advice for closer to home For many students, the costs associated with exams mean that managing personal finances is absolutely crucial to ensure that mountains of debt are not accrued while studying. The most important thing to do from the outset is plan long term to ensure liabilities are matched by income. It is never too late – even if you have already started your exams without working out a monthly budget; put together a list of outgoings and income to measure your situation as soon as possible. You will need to fix a budget for fixed costs and personal expenses depending on your salary or income

– and maintaining this budget is extremely important to achieve your financial goals. If possible, try to set aside money for unexpected costs such as resits or additional learning materials. One of personal finance’s most repeated mantras is to pay yourself first. No matter how much you owe in student loans or credit card debt and no matter how low your salary may seem, it is wise to set aside an amount – any amount – of money from your budget to save into an emergency fund every month. Having money in savings to use for emergencies can really keep you out of trouble financially.

Student Accountant | may DECEMBER 2013 2012

Also, if you get into the habit of saving money and treating it as a non-negotiable monthly ‘expense’, after a while you will have more than just emergency money saved up: you will have holiday or shopping money or even a lump sum towards a deposit on a property. Keep track of all your outgoings and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that you have enough money to last the distance. The biggest expense is usually rent so consider choosing a place that is safe, comfortable and makes you feel like coming home and studying, but try to keep rent to a minimum. Consider sharing or

FINANCES moving to a smaller place or an area a little further away if necessary to reduce outgoings. It may sound boring but it may also be advisable to avoid spending too much money on food by cooking meals at home – eating out is a common source of over spending. Eat fresh, healthy and nutritious food at home and avoid eating in expensive restaurants too often. Also consider making packed lunches at home and taking them into college or work. Try to plan and book any trips or journeys in advance to take advantage of any discounts that may be on offer. Travelling during weekdays also tends to be cheaper.

Also take additional steps to control of your money by carefully considering where your money is going. Once you have done that even small, manageable changes in your everyday expenses can have as big an impact on your finances as a pay rise. Not buying that coffee every morning on your way into college or work mounts up over a month. Save up money rather than buying on credit. One of the most common ways of spiralling into debt is spending more money than you earn – or money you don’t have. The Islamic view of money could be considered a healthy approach

for trainees to consider. A brief review of basic literature in Islam regarding debt shows that it is unequivocally discouraged. The general principles in Islam include only buying what you actually have money for, agreeing to a fixed price before purchase and avoiding interest. In Islam the concept of owing someone £500 for products worth £300 is alien – and these credit traps should be avoided at all costs. Fixing your personal finances sooner rather than later will ensure your finances run smoothly leaving you with less to worry about as you tackle your all-important exams.



BENEDICT ANUMU-MENSAH Chief finance officer, Blue Financial Services Ltd, Accra, Ghana

Self-study is the route to ACCA membership for many students, and one that demands real determination, as ACCA Member Benedict Anumu-Mensah reveals ‘I started my ACCA studies two years after graduating in business administration,’ says Benedict Anumu-Mensah. ‘I had specialised in accounting, but began to realise that in order to be an accountant I had to gain a professional qualification, which was when I found out about ACCA.’ A lack of local, well-qualified tuition providers meant that self-study was Benedict’s only option – one he admits was both challenging and frustrating. ‘I often spent hours on complex topics that a tutor could have helped me understand,’ he says, adding: ‘If current students have the choice, learning with a tuition provider can be a faster route to membership.’ Benedict studied while working full time at SIC Ltd (then called the State Insurance Company) where his career was flourishing: ‘After working in different departments, management invited me to apply for the role of accounts officer, which I started just before beginning my ACCA studies in 2004. In 2005, I moved to another office to introduce new accounting software, and was so successful that I did the same in four more offices.’ So how did he combine work and study? ‘It was not easy,’ he admits,

‘but as I was determined to gain ACCA membership, I arrived at work very early – sometimes 5am – to revise for two hours before the office opened at 7am. This meant I could meet all my workplace responsibilities while studying.’ Despite his efforts, Benedict’s progress wasn’t always smooth: ‘I did not pass all my exams first time, and failure was heartbreaking. But it was also humbling and, as a result, I went back to basics on key topics to prepare for the next sitting. ACCA support – such as examiners’ reports and past papers – was also very useful preparation for resits.’ Benedict’s employer helped him record his workplace experience enabling a swift transition to ACCA membership as soon as he passed his final exam in 2011. At this time Benedict was working in Accra as an audit supervisor, but shortly afterwards joined Blue Financial Services as chief finance officer for Ghana, where he is now responsible for developing the company’s national finance function. ‘ACCA membership has brought me significant career benefits,’ he says. ‘It shows employers that you have skill, knowledge and experience, and makes clear the direction in

‘If current students have the choice, learning with a tuition provider can be a faster route to membership’ Student Accountant | MAY 2013

which you want to build your career’. And Benedict is not finished yet: ‘I recently passed the DipIFRS exam, which I found an excellent way to sharpen my IFRS skills, and the qualification will enhance my career and my competitive edge. I plan to amass more experience in corporate finance and financial reporting, as in the longer term I would like to be a consultant in this area.’ Self-study proved no disadvantage to Benedict, who has some valuable advice for current ACCA students studying independently: ‘Every minute counts so manage your time well; limit your social activities, remain focused, be disciplined, and remember to rise up again if you fall.’

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We meet the December 2012 medal winners and prizewinners to discover their top exam tips

Gold medal winner: NATASHA JONES – 399 marks

Good time management while studying is absolutely essential. Set out your study plan timetable and stick to it from the start, making sure to plan it around any anticipated busy periods at work. I always aimed to finish working through the textbooks five to six weeks before the exam to allow ample time for revision. In the week leading up to the exam, I set aside time to refresh my knowledge and sit past papers under mock exam conditions to refine my technique.

Student Accountant | may 2013

When it came to Paper P6, it is important to be comfortable with the entire syllabus as the questions require such a lot of integration of knowledge from so many syllabus areas. Take time to plan answers in the exam before rushing into writing anything to ensure you have fully digested the question and highlighted all of the requirements, especially in the large Section A questions where the requirements may be set out in a memo or email from your manager. Look for the guidance in this style of question as well

as this can be important in setting you in the right direction. Of course, as with any paper, question practice is essential. While sitting an actual exam be very strict with time allocation. It is crucial that you carefully set aside the necessary amount of time for each question and do not exceed it, keeping your eye on the clock as much as possible. Also, make sure your answers are relevant. I never required additional writing paper because I liked to keep my answers concise, neat and to the point.

‘Take time to plan answers in the exam before rushing into writing anything to ensure you have fully digested the question and highlighted all of the requirements’

SILVER medal winner: SAMUeL BAILEY – 397 marks

‘keep track of time’

One is to keep track of time. Before I attempted any part of a question I worked out exactly how many minutes I had to spend on that part of the question (1.8 minutes per mark) and made a note of the time when I needed to progress to the next part of the question. Question practice while studying is vital. During the first few weeks of tuition I would attempt past

exam questions. I found this is the most effective way to learn and it gives you an opportunity to see most of the scenarios that may come up in the exam. It is important to approach studying and the exams as an opportunity to learn new things and develop yourself for the future. The more that you enjoy what you are studying, the more likely you are to succeed.

BRONZE medal winner: ALEXANDER HUTCHINGS – 393 marks My top tip would be to complete any resources such as progress tests at early stages of the learning cycle so that when it

comes to the run-up to exams you have already tested your knowledge and can try to relax to some extent.

‘complete any resources such as progress tests at early stages of the learning cycle’



individual prizewinners PAPER F4

Catherine Coleman, UK – 99 marks Cover all syllabus areas in your revision and do lots of question practice, including some under timed mock exam conditions. With Paper F4 I found it helped to focus on the case studies – they were much more memorable and you could usually pick out the point of law they were illustrating.


Philip Murray, Ireland – 96 marks Stay on top of the subject with a little bit of work each week. Develop a good study plan in the weeks leading up to the exam, making sure you include breaks for free time.


Andrea Thien Hau Yee, Malaysia – 95 marks Generally, I always stay focused in class, revise consistently, study smart and be disciplined. For Paper F7, I practised many exam questions to familiarise myself with the relevant accounting standards.


Jennifer Smith, UK – 89 marks Aside from the required knowledge, it is vital that you have good exam technique. You not only need to

have an approach that works for you, but one that you know will get the points across and score marks. While sitting the Paper F8 exam, I split everything into small paragraphs and sentences and used bullet points throughout. I also tried to apply the audit experience I have gained during my career to the scenarios.


Ahmed Ali, Pakistan – 94 marks I think the best tip is ‘practice makes perfect’. The more hours you are willing to put in, the better the chances are for achieving a pass mark. However, a break from studying could also improve your focus and help maintain your energy levels.

PAPER P1 JOINT PRIZEWINNERS Sonika Bansal, UK – 87 marks

You have to work hard for this qualification. Intelligence is not enough – you need to be focused and never give up. You need to believe in yourself – don’t be over‑confident and always be willing to learn. Students must read the entire textbooks thoroughly instead of just concentrating on their study notes. I also recommend practising at least one full question paper under timed conditions.

‘Good exam technique is unbelievably important’ Student Accountant | may 2013

Caroline Gallagher, UK – 87 marks I work in an audit environment where quality, risk awareness and good ethics are expected. The consequent knowledge gained from my work experience was instrumental in my success in the exam. Also, I am genuinely interested in the topics covered in Paper P1, so I could draw ideas and inspiration from books by people such as Conor Woodman (Unfair Trade) and David Graeber (Debt), and my many years reading Private Eye.

Katy Hoyle, UK – 87 marks

Learn the material covered in the exam but, most importantly, practise past papers. The case study questions in the Professional level papers require you to deal with a large amount of information in a short space of time, and practising these will help you in this skill. In the exam, allocate times for each question and don’t exceed these – particularly in Section A, as questions later in the paper are often easier.


Muhammad Fahad Anwar, Pakistan – 90 marks You must have faith in yourself and adopt an active approach to your learning. It does not matter how much you study as much as how effectively you are studying. And try not to panic in the exam. For Paper P2 the most challenging aspect was relating and applying the standards to scenarios. You should have a

‘You need to believe in yourself – don’t be over-confident and always be willing to learn. read the entire textbooks instead of concentrating on study notes’ proper understanding of the standards and should know the relationship between the framework and its outcome in terms of international accounting standards.


Alexandra Maria Velianu, Romania – 91 marks I cannot say I have any particular tips for passing exams other than practising a lot of questions beforehand and employing effective time management during the exam itself. I usually aim to complete every question in the exam kit. Afterwards I compare my answer with the model answer and see what I may have missed. I found it easy to cover a lot of ground in this way, especially in Paper P3. During the exam I always use five minutes of the reading and planning time to calculate the allotted time for each section of each question. Then I just make sure never to exceed the allotted time.

David De Lange, UK – 91 marks For me, the least productive time is spent reading textbooks, even though it is necessary. Therefore, I tried to progress to practising exam questions as quickly as I could. I would also recommend reading the business sections of various newspapers.


Yu Shu Yang, UK – 89 marks For Paper P4, a fundamental knowledge of corporate finance is necessary. Try to complete all revision kit exercises at least twice, and refer to recent Paper P4 technical articles for current issues.


Sarah-Jane McHugh, Ireland – 89 marks Good exam technique is unbelievably important and is something I have developed under the guidance of a number of different lecturers. For each paper there are slight differences in what is most important, and it is key for students to look at guidance from the examiner/markers about expectations. Presentation, layout, spacing out answers, depth of content required, appropriate use of technical language, and narrative support for calculations are all important. It is vital to remember that, although it is the marker’s job to mark your paper, it is easier for them if the answer is clear and well presented.


Natasha Jones, UK – 96 marks (gold winner)


Alex Hutchings, UK – 82 marks (bronze WINNER) 23

LEARNING CENTRE | practical experience requirement

THINK TACTICALLY If you work for an organisation that encourages its accountants and finance professionals to become professionally qualified, you may be lucky enough to find that rotations will be organised to give you exposure across the finance function. However, it may be down to you to make the running. What are your options? Think about how you might adapt some or all of these strategies to the circumstances in your own workplace. Shadowing If colleagues are assigned to certain tasks that would be ideal for you to undertake as part of achieving a performance objective, ask if you might be permitted to shadow them and take notes. Don’t assume that this will be a major inconvenience to them – people are often surprisingly generous with their time if it gives them the chance to demonstrate their prowess and impart their wisdom to less experienced colleagues. And, in any case, other than answering the occasional

Student Accountant | MAY 2013

Development of competence comes about not through being ‘talked at’ but instead by undertaking real work question you might have, shadowing needn’t take up too much of their time. While shadowing does not enable you to achieve a performance objective, it may give you the background knowledge of a particular area. You can then call on that knowledge should you be offered the chance to work in that area in the future. Coaching Ask colleagues (via your line manager) if you might be coached in certain tasks. This will involve practical, hands-on experience alongside a more experienced colleague. Development of competence comes about not through being ‘talked at’ but instead by undertaking real work, learning from both successes and mistakes in a safe environment. Secondments and project work A more formal tactic is to switch into a different job or team for a certain time period, leaving behind your ‘day job’. This will almost certainly require authorisation further up your employer’s hierarchy, as various stakeholders are likely to be involved. Talk over the performance objectives with your workplace mentor. It may be that he or she will be able to exert their influence elsewhere in the finance team or in the company to identify suitable

people for you to shadow, or who can deliver effective coaching. And remember to think ‘win-win’ – it is not just about you. For instance, if a secondment means that your routine duties will need to be shouldered by colleagues, you might demonstrate a willingness to ‘trade’ your time in exchange for the secondment opportunity. This might mean staying late every now and then to catch up on certain duties, or temporarily returning to your team for busy periods (such as month‑end reporting) while still officially on secondment. Record your progress, enhance your marketability Remember to keep your My Experience record updated, recording the performance objectives, activity and including your workplace mentor’s sign-off as you achieve each objective. And given that ACCA membership will boost your employability, don’t forget to update your CV as you progress. Show not just the skills you have developed but how they have helped you make a contribution to your employer. This will give employers and recruiters greater confidence in both your technical ability and your commitment to a career as a finance professional, making you a valuable commodity in the job market. Find out more about the performance objectives ▶

given that ACCA membership will boost your employability, don’t forget to update your CV 25


Evaluate yourself: Skills self-assessment Opportunity knocks. Or so you hope! But what is the first thing you think of doing when applying for a new job? Review your CV? Write a cover letter? Yes should be your answer. But what about a skills self-assessment? asks Sherelle Lancaster from ACCA Careers A skills self-assessment is essentially a detailed look into what skills you have and an effective way of developing the knowledge, confidence and additional skills you need to approach potential employers. What better way to sell yourself than to know exactly what you can do, demonstrate them well and show you can apply them to the job specification. It may seem time consuming but, in truth, the benefits of something like this has many rewards and can teach you a lot about yourself, and even change your whole career path. So, where do you begin? The most obvious starting point is to establish what skills you do and don’t have. Assess your skills Team worker? Organised? Computer literate? Good communicator? Maybe you have all these skills, or simply have one or two. Identifying them is the first step and knowing how valuable these skills are perhaps comes next. Ask yourself where you obtained them; a previous job, voluntary work, Student Accountant | MAY 2013

spend more time perfecting or perhaps which ones you actually enjoy doing the most or least.

a course, event, or even through helping friends or family. Knowing how well you perform each skill is also important to understand your personal strengths and weaknesses. If you can see which skills you put into practice more so than others, it can show you what skill you could

Take a closer look Now you know the skills you have, think about how often you have demonstrated more than one skill at a time. This happens more than we realise. For example, you may have had to negotiate with a client to make a sale. Here you are likely to have had to use good communication skills, but additionally you have had to show flexibility, professionalism, build relationships, and be organised. These examples may not even be work related, and this links closely with the idea of having transferable skills. Think about leisure activities and sports where you may have to motivate peers, group work where you had to take on a leadership role and use your communication skills, or even doing research where you have had to be efficient and

It is always good to consider stepping stone roles too – those that can elevate you to the final job you want

use your initiative – they are all transferable skills that employers will want to see and that you can take with you into new job pursuits. It is important to understand how and where they overlap. Acquiring new skills and how This is where you really have to think about your potential and what desired employers might want from you. If you know you need to be a team player, for instance, find a recreational activity like joining a football team or dance group so you can learn to be in that kind of environment. It is always good to consider stepping stone roles too – those that can elevate you to the final job you want. Either way, you should make sure you are up to date with your chosen sector and company, and be open to continued learning. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, advice and feedback in preparation for applying for a job or attending an interview. Preparation really is key! Make use of contacts from previous jobs, the internet and books to boost both your knowledge and confidence, and essentially make yourself irresistible to an employer. What do you want? Deciding what career you seriously want to pursue is a hard task in itself, but matching it to your skills is also challenging, especially if the skills you have don’t necessarily match those of the job you desire. So this decision has to be a logical one too. Think about your previous experiences and achievements, and what you have learned along the way. The things you have enjoyed and especially the things you haven’t. There are different kinds of job hunter: those who know the specific job they want, those who are unsure but know the general field, those re-entering the workforce after time off and those who are embarking on a total career change. If you know exactly what career path you are heading down, then it is worth

prioritising and investing time in research to acquire the skills an employer would expect. For expert career advice from Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half UK, and others, visit the Careers Clinic ( career_centre/category/ career-centre/careersclinic/). It is useful to think about what kind of work environment you actually want to be in, and what kind

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Don’t be afraid to ask for help, advice and feedback in preparation for applying for a job or attending an interview. Preparation really is key! of people you would like to work with as this will make a big difference to the way you learn, and how happy you are at work too. Thinking about previous work places, or even college or university, will help you to do this. What would you like to be different or stay the same? Moreover, knowing there are good job prospects is motivating and will inspire you to keep adding new skills to your already growing list. The big sell! What you can offer So, all the hard work has been done and you know yourself inside out. The self-assessment should have revealed all the positive and negative points (if any) about yourself, giving you a chance to plan for the future and make active changes, helping you decide upon your career path and giving you confidence to go further. This is now your time to shine, and make yourself stand out from the hundreds of other applicants.

Interviews are where people really fall short – sadly common mistakes are made time after time and opportunities are missed. You may have the best CV, but if you can’t hold eye contact, show good body language or think on your feet in an interview then you may well get beaten to the post by Joe Bloggs who doesn’t have the best CV, but is confident, relaxed and has done their background research. Make the skills you have, old and new, sound appealing and desirable. You have to remember it is a competition, so make yourself sound interesting and always be enthusiastic. And, of course, good luck! Sherelle Lancaster, ACCA Careers

Register you r CV on ACCA Caree rs and start your jo b search ▶


LEARNING CENTRE | the foundation level

FIRM FOUNDATIONS We meet two students who reveal the benefits of having STARTED their ACCA studies at the Foundation level

Sarah Yamba Zambia I chose to start my studies at the Foundation level because my friends who have completed the ACCA Qualification encouraged me to do so and, consequently, I am finding the Fundamentals level papers of the ACCA Qualification easier to complete. This is because the Foundation level gives you a better understanding of what is involved in the higher level exams and makes first-time passes achievable. I am currently combining self-study with getting tuition from a local tuition provider. Starting my studies at the Foundation level also helped me to secure relevant training. I am

currently working for a law firm called Zambezi Chambers in its payroll department, preparing payrolls and tax returns. My future plans include completing the ACCA Qualification and the BSc degree in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University, becoming an ACCA member and securing a good job. I would love to be a financial controller. If I had to give advice to any student thinking of starting their studies at the Foundation level, it would be go for it as you really won’t regret it. It will help you on the path to your chosen career.

Rhythwic Raveendran Bahrain Although I am still currently studying at school, becoming a professional accountant is my dream. The Foundation level has provided me with the opportunity to start studying for my career at a young age and without having any formal qualifications. I am currently self studying, with the help of my father, using study materials from Kaplan. I find that using the test kit and pocket notes help me to gain a better understanding of the subjects covered. Having recently sat my first exam, I am already beginning to gain confidence in knowing that I will be capable of working in a small and medium-sized firm. My father – an ACCA member with over 25 years’ experience – also agrees, saying that the syllabus areas Student Accountant | MAY 2013

perfectly match the practical requirements that are required from a professional accountant. The Foundation level is a very good starting point for the ACCA Qualification. Learning how to become an accountant by starting at the beginning, understanding the subject and discovering what is required of a good accountant is vital in attaining a professional qualification. I enjoy studying but it’s important to have some free time to do fun things – I like to listen to music, sing, watch movies and body building. I am at the start of my journey to my dream career and, in five years’ time, my aim is to be an ACCA qualified accountant, working in audit or investment.

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INTERVIEW TIPs We take a look at some of the most important considerations when invited to attend a job interview

With increased competition for roles and a greater than ever demand for consistency from trainees, most employers now embark on a more thorough and rigorous approach to interviewing than ever before. Trainees should be prepared for exercises that go way beyond the traditional interview format. For example, competency-based questioning has increasingly become a part of the interview process in recent times. These type of questions are designed to test whether your past performance matches the job you are applying for. Competency-based interviews are structured so that each question targets a specific skill or competency that is considered key for the role, often outlined on the formal job specification. You will be asked questions relating to your behaviour in specific circumstances, which you will need to back up with practical examples of where this has been demonstrated. Knowing the structure of competency‑based interviews, and preparing accordingly, can greatly increase your chances of performing well and ultimately securing a new role. Tony Stevens, director at Hays Senior Finance, says: ‘Learn to demonstrate your skills by using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). This means setting the scene, explaining how you handled the situation by placing the emphasis on your role and skills, and detailing the outcome or result. Accountancy professionals are frequently expected to be able to demonstrate their Student Accountant | MAY 2013

Candidates in China attend a job interview for an airline stewardess

‘Learn to demonstrate your skills by using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result), explaining how you handled the situation by placing the emphasis on your role and skills, and detailing the outcome’

‘Quite often, trainees think they have to play it cool and not reveal their hand. While this may work in some situations, many employers want to see that a candidate is enthusiastic about the role’

business partnering skills, so you should think of examples of when you have influenced people in your organisation to adopt an idea or strategy. ‘You can expect many of the same competencies to be tested at interview and, as such, you should

have a number of relevant examples prepared in advance. These could include overcoming objections, influencing skills, relationship management, leadership skills and project/people management.’ But even if a company follows a more traditional interview format, knowing how to answer questions in a way that really sells your experience is the key to success. With practice and preparation, the ability to structure your answers correctly will become second nature. Nicholas Kirk, managing director, Page Personnel Finance, says: ‘Make sure your answers are clear and well phrased. Try to make sure that the interview is as jargon-free as possible to help avoid confusion. There may be particular terms and expressions that you use internally that won’t always translate to an external audience. ‘Always explain something as if you were explaining to someone who didn’t have a finance background. Support your answers by giving relevant examples and, if you are not sure, ask the interviewer if you have answered their question.’ Companies are increasingly looking for commercially savvy professionals who not only understand the technical aspects of their job, but how it contributes to the overall company revenue generation and profitability. Thus, it is essential to communicate tangible accomplishments during the interview, such as how they saved their employer money or sourced a new process to drive efficiencies. Robert Half managing director Phil Sheridan says: ‘It is so

important that trainees express their accomplishments and successes. If you don’t, somebody else will. It is a competitive marketplace and the most successful are those who are able to convey how they are indispensable to an organisation. ‘Quite often, trainees think they have to play it cool and not reveal their hand. While this may work in some situations, many employers want to see that a candidate is enthusiastic about the role. People who are keen and passionate about a job opportunity tend to work hard once hired. ‘Also, just as you want to hear that a company wants you, hiring managers also find it flattering when candidates are interested in their organisation. If you want the job, make sure you say so.’ do your research There is nothing more professional than displaying a thorough understanding and knowledge of the company you are going to be interviewed by and the wider industry they operate in. Kirk concurs: ‘You might have the necessary skills to do the job, but do you know how the company operates? Have you thought about how to explain why you want this job? Do you have any questions for the interviewer prepared? ‘By doing your research and thinking carefully about your potential responses, you’ll feel more confident and able to perform to the best of your ability. Even the most seasoned professional can get interview nerves, but preparation can alleviate these.’



Global body language pitfalls

We take a snapshot at some of the major differences in the use and interpretation of body language around the world

While the meaning of gestures such as a smile means pretty much the same thing throughout the world, the meaning of many other forms of body language can be completely different depending where you are.

Student Accountant | MAY 2013

The old saying ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’ is good advice as there are many pitfalls to avoid when working in or visiting other countries, but the key is to become aware of the many regional differences before arriving in the first place.

As a rule, it is a good idea to research national or local dos and don’ts. For example eye contact is considered positive in Western cultures, but it is regarded as rude or sassy in other cultures such as the more traditional regions within Japan, China and the Caribbean – especially when made by youngsters towards the elderly and from women towards men. In China, eye contact should be infrequent as the Chinese consider frequent eye contact intrusive and rude. The ‘thumbs-up’ gesture means that something is OK in Western cultures but it is considered rude in Arab countries, where it is also rude to eat using the left hand. The act of touching one another when talking is very common in Latin or Mediterranean cultures but not so in countries such as Japan where

people do not usually touch in public at all. In the US, shaking hands when greeting someone face-to-face is considered the norm and to refuse a handshake is considered a rude gesture. In Saudi Arabia you can shake a man’s hand after meeting him but you cannot shake a woman’s hand at all in greeting. Under the Sharia Laws it is immoral for a woman to greet any man in public other than her husband. Across Asia bowing heads to greet one another is common. PERSONAL SPACE We all have our own sense of what is a comfortable interaction distance to someone we are speaking with and if that person gets closer than the comfort distance, we tend to re‑establish our own comfort zone. However, that comfort zone differs depending where in the world you are. In Latin America the ideal distance for talking about personal topics is often significantly closer than among non-Hispanic cultures. The Chinese generally converse while standing around three feet apart. However, it is also not unusual to encounter situations where a colleague may seem to ignore comfortable personal space rules altogether. In North America, Asia and Northern Europe the cultures generally discourage touching by adults except in moments of intimacy or formal greeting (hand shaking or hugging). This informal rule is most rigidly applied to men – if they hold hands or kiss in public they may be marginalised. However, in Southern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America more

As a rule, it is a good idea to research national or local dos and don’ts 33

FEATURES | INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS physical contact is expected between both sexes. Different cultures also have different attitudes towards timekeeping too. Across Western culture if you have a pre-arranged business meeting scheduled, you are expected to arrive on time. However, in countries such as Brazil, attitudes towards timekeeping can be more relaxed and it is considered sufficiently prompt to arrive for a scheduled business meeting within 30 minutes of the appointment. The use of eye contact also differs greatly in different parts of the world. In North America men generally prefer face-to-face conversations and maintain direct eye contact, while businesswomen often converse standing side‑by‑side but closer together than is typical of men. In Japan, women often speak with an artificially high pitch, especially when conversing with men in a business or official setting as a sign of respect towards men, although this tradition is fading as the economic and political clout of Japanese women continues to increase. Chinese businesspeople usually speak in quiet, gentle tones and conversations may include periods of silence. At restaurants, especially those used for business lunches and dinners, keep conversations at a quiet level – loud or noisy behaviour is perceived as a lack of self-control. When it comes to mobile phone use, the attitudes are polar opposite depending where you are. In China it is perfectly acceptable for people to answer their phones even during important discussions, while in Western cultures business people tend to turn off their phones or turn them to vibrate so as not to interrupt proceedings. Terri Morrison, co-author of nine books including Dun & Bradstreet’s Guide to Doing Business Around the Student Accountant | MAY 2013

Since over 50% of our communication is based on body language, we need to realise there are no ubiquitous gestures around the world – not even a wink or wave World and Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands, says: ‘The ability to understand non‑verbal messages is an important skill for us all, but vital in certain professions and among global travellers. Since over 50% of our communication is based on body language, we need to realise there are no ubiquitous gestures around the world – not even a wink or wave. ‘Understanding cultural differences can be the difference between success or not. It can create

a huge impact on your reputation and the way your business is viewed.’ Have you ever made the wrong gesture in a meeting? Or perhaps your body language helped you overcome a communication problem. Email us at studentaccountant@ and you could feature in a follow-up article.

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surprising time management

mistakes Everyone knows procrastination and failing to keep a to-do list can lead to your working and study days descending into chaos. But some less common pitfalls can cause just as much havoc. Iwona Tokc-Wilde reports When Microsoft asked 38,000 people in 200 countries about their individual productivity, their survey results showed most people actually work for 60% of their required work time. This is the same as saying that even though you are physically at work five days a week, you are only productive for three of these days. There are many reasons why our work productivity suffers. For example, another study shows that employees spend on average 36 minutes per day at work on personal tasks such as personal phone calls and emails or leaving early for doctors’ appointments, with the 18–34 year-old group being the worst culprits. Other reasons include surfing the social networks, not prioritising and taking on too much resulting in many jobs being left unfinished or finished to an unacceptable standard. However, beyond some of these common reasons, it can be difficult to identify other time management mistakes we make. Here are some less obvious pitfalls, as well as tips on how to avoid them.

Student Accountant | MAY 2013

things in 1 Keeping your head If you try to remember everything that needs doing, it will block your creativity, says business and time management coach Chris Croft ( ‘It also means you’ll forget some of it from time to time, which can be unacceptable where clients and bosses are concerned,’ says Croft. ‘Ideally, you want to focus on the task in hand, with no distracting thoughts of what needs to be done in future, so free your mind and write everything down – set up a master list of all big projects, a daily to-do list and a diary for time‑fixed tasks and appointments.’

master and 2 Mixing daily to-do lists The master list should include all the big tasks, including future ones where specific deadlines aren’t yet known. ‘In theory, it could contain hundreds of things, whereas your daily to-do list shouldn’t be bigger than what you can fit on a post-it note,’ says Graham Allcott, managing director of Think Productive (thinkproductive. Chris Croft recommends no more than 10 urgent tasks for your daily list, including small parts of the big projects from the master list. But be careful not to merge both lists into one, he warns: ‘You could end up cherry-picking the easy tasks over the big ones and your list will get messy and unmanageable.’

‘stuff’ 3 Mistaking for tasks Another mistake is to fill your to-do list with mere reminders or ‘anything [...] for which you haven’t yet determined the desired outcome and the next action step’ – what David Allen calls ‘stuff’ in his book

‘“no” is the most powerful word in our time management vocabulary, but many of us have difficulty saying it. we all want to be liked but you have to look after number one as well’ Getting Things Done. ‘The reason most organising systems haven’t worked for most people is that they haven’t yet transformed all the “stuff” they’re trying to organise. As long as it’s still “stuff”, it’s not controllable,’ he says. To gain control over your work, you need to transform the mere listings of ‘stuff’ into actionable tasks, with details and deadlines of what you have to do. This doesn’t mean ‘stuff’ is a bad thing. ‘Things that command our attention, by their very nature, usually show up as “stuff”. But once “stuff” comes into our lives and work, we have an inherent commitment to ourselves to define and clarify its meaning,’ says Allen.

illing up your diary 4 Fcompletely Your diary for time-fixed tasks and appointments needs to include ‘breathing spaces’. ‘If you book appointments into the next available slot, without any gaps, you may start running late for, or even cancel, appointments,’ says Croft. Something needing your urgent attention crops up most days, and usually just before your next important meeting. ‘Keep some free space in your diary every day in case things do come up,’ says Croft. ‘Say “no” to more appointments before your diary is completely full. Many can wait till the next day, anyway.’ ‘Anyone with more than half their day filled with appointments ends up working late too,’ adds Graham Allcott. 

Hofstadter’s 5 Ignoring law Hofstadter’s law, conceived by cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter, goes something like this: any task you plan to complete will always take longer than expected. Even when you take this law into account and build that knowledge into your planning, your project will still overrun your new estimated finish time. ‘As a consequence, you may miss deadlines, give yourself too much to do and end up feeling out of control,’ says Allcott. ‘It’s difficult to fully counteract what’s sometimes also called “the planning fallacy” as, at the beginning of a task, it’s impossible to know what will cause time slippages. The trick is to be aware of this and say “no” to more things – it’s impossible for things you’re not doing to take too long!’

too much 6 Worrying about being liked In fact, ‘no’ is the most powerful word in our time management vocabulary, but many of us have difficulty saying it. ‘We all want to be liked but you have to look after number one as well,’ says Croft. ‘If you let guilt or fear of others’ disapproval push you into saying “yes” when you don’t want to or can’t do something, your life can get filled up with things that don’t make you happy. Saying “no” is important if you are to maintain control of your life and you’ll probably find that it doesn’t make people think less of you.’


FEATURES | TIME MANAGEMENT paying attention 7 Not to your own attention For some of us, the key to getting things done may not be time management, but attention management. ‘Our attention is a much more limited resource than our time, so we need to use it wisely, or else things will hang around on our to-do lists for a long time,’ says Allcott. He recommends breaking the tasks on your list into three categories:

¤ Proactive attention – those items that need you to be at the absolute top of your game, bearing in mind that you have no more than three hours of ‘proactive attention’ per day. ¤ Active attention – any other tasks you need to be properly engaged with, the ‘bread and butter’ of your work. ¤ Inactive attention – the tasks that you could do with your eyes closed, perhaps when you are tired at the end of the day, like filing.

‘Our attention is a much more limited resource than our time, so we need to use it wisely, or else things will hang around on our to-do lists for a long time’

Time management facts and |figures Student Accountant MAY 2013 According to Dr Donald Wetmore, President of Productivity Institute, New York: ¤T  he average person uses 13 different methods to control and manage their time. ¤ One hour of planning saves 10 hours of doing. ¤ 70% of business and professional people use a to-do list. ¤ 20% of the average workday is spent on ‘important’ things, while 80% is spent on things that have ‘little’ or ‘no value’. ¤ A person whose desk is messy spends on average 1 1/2 hours a day looking for things. ¤ The average person gets distracted every eight minutes, leading to approximately three hours of wasted time per day. ¤ By taking one hour per day for independent study (which equates to 365 hours in a year), the average person can become an expert in the topic of their choice in three to five years. ¤ The average reading speed is approximately 200 words per minute and the average working person reads two hours per day. A speed‑reading course can improve your reading rate to 400 words per minute and thus save an hour a day. ¤ Taking five minutes each day, five days a week, to improve your job will create 1,300 little improvements to the job over a five-year period.

Student Accountant | MAY 2013

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TECHNICAL| sector features | COMMUNICATION focus



Student Accountant | may DECEMBER 2013 2012

WILL COMe Property prices, along with everything else you can probably think of, have been hugely challenged in recent years but as we all look tentatively towards a brighter future the construction industry has its own bespoke set of drivers which can make it a fascinating area for finance professionals to get involved with

James Mason is managing director of accountancy firm Fifth Element. His construction clients are primarily sub-contractors working within the CIS (Construction Industry Scheme) and property developers who purchase properties and land for refurbishment and new builds. The firm prepares sole‑trader accounts and personal tax computations for the CIS contractors and company accounts and corporation tax computations for our company clients. ‘We also advise on tax issues specific to the construction industry such as stamp duty, capital gains

and VAT,’ says Mason. ‘VAT in the construction industry can be especially difficult with standard rate, reduced rate, zero rate, mixed rate and apportionment all featuring regularly on most developments.’ These issues and others, he adds, are often what differentiates the construction industry from several others. ‘The primary differential drivers are the VAT issues previously mentioned, the protracted difficulty and complexity raising the necessary capital finance in the current economic climate, tax issues surrounding property trading versus property investment, and tax planning issues where properties are placed long term into investment portfolios while others are traded short term,’ he says. And while no one was immune to the flooring of the world’s finances, savvy strategic moves – which accountants were at the heart of –

have helped those in construction overcome the worst of the crisis. ‘Our larger property developers were caught being unable to sell the properties they were developing three years ago when the crisis first hit,’ explains Mason. ‘To counter they switched to a rental strategy and now we are starting to see sales at economic levels producing enough of a return to make a small profit. Re-capitalised, they are now able to re-enter the market at a lower index level. All have had to cut workforces. Our smaller sub-contractor clients have remained largely unaffected.’ Another major draw for accountants wanting to work in the construction industry is the international nature of the work. Skills that you are learning in one country can be honed and modified for others, giving you the freedom and the opportunity to pursue your career anywhere in the world.

‘VAT in the construction industry can be especially difficult with standard rate, reduced rate, zero rate, mixed rate and apportionment all featuring regularly on most developments’ 41

features | sector focus In Dubai, while suffering the same blips as everywhere else, the sheer amount of building work going on provides fertile pastures for ambitious accountants. ‘The construction industry in Dubai has seen strong growth over the past 10 years and continues to remain buoyant in 2013,’ says James Sayer, director, Robert Half Middle East. ‘Opportunities for accountants are numerous as additional projects undertaken by companies will directly translate into additional workloads and initiatives. Project and cost accountants are particularly sought after within the industry, although opportunities exist from operational accounting roles in accounts payable and receivable through to finance director.’ The construction industry varies by country, with economic issues, government spending and even the price of petrol and materials having a strong impact. ‘Much of the Middle East is still seeing strong growth in this area, which is likely consistent with other emerging markets,’ says Sayer. ‘While opportunities exist in both young and more mature markets, those who are interested in pursuing careers in emerging markets will be particularly in demand. ‘We’re still seeing strong demand for accounting professionals within the construction industry in Dubai and don’t anticipate this changing in the near future. Many of our clients are looking for talent who are both technically strong and commercially savvy. Strong communication and language skills are essential and the ability to speak Arabic is particularly beneficial.’ Salary can vary on the type of role and size of company, but according to the 2013 Robert Half Middle East Salary Guide, a senior finance associate, for example can expect to earn between US$72,000 and US$105,000. Student Accountant | may 2013

Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road

‘The key communication issue is being able to take complicated legislation and translate this into what’s happening on-site’ Mason agrees that communication skills are imperative if you want to give yourself the edge over the competition. ‘The key communication issue is being able to take complicated legislation and translate this into what’s happening on-site,’ he says. ‘Our property developers don’t want to know the technical issues surrounding counter-blocked VAT supplies on a listed building but not in a conservation area apportioned between approved alterations and maintenance. They want to know if they can claim back the VAT on a specific bag of cement they used to point a new roof on a particular building. An accountant’s job with a construction client is to take the complicated rules and interpret these

to what the builder is doing on-site and provide a general framework of tax planning and business advice as and when they buy and sell different types of properties over different trading and investment periods.’ And if you are tempted by the international opportunities, you need to go into it with your eyes open. ‘Whether in the construction industry or otherwise, anyone considering expatriate opportunities would need to come with an open mind, a strong work ethic, a cultural appreciation and, most importantly, patience. Adjusting to a new country and lifestyle can be challenging for many, so it is essential that you do your homework before setting off,’ advises Sayer.

TECHNICAL 44 technical articles • revenue recognition – Papers F7 and p2 • Substantive procedures – Paper F8 (INT) and (UK); Paper P7 (INT) and (UK); paper FAU (INT) and (UK) • Labuan – a comprehensive look – Paper p6 (mys) • Taxation of trusts in Malaysia – Paper p6 (mys) • presentation and slides – students attempting the Oxford Brookes University BSc (hons) in applied accounting


examiner feedback from the december 2012 session


Access videos to help support your studies in Papers F4, F5, F7, F8, F9, P1, P2, P3, P4, P5, P6 and P7. Cannot use YouTube? If so, you can access these videos here

Paper F4

Paper F7

Paper P1

Paper P6

Paper F5_1

Paper F8_1

Paper P2

Paper P7

Paper F5_2

Paper F8_2

Paper P3

Paper F5_3

Paper F9_1

Paper P4

Paper F5_4

Paper F9_2

Paper P5

for more information on the foundation level ▶ 43


Revenue recognition Relevant to ACCA Qualification Papers F7 and P2 This article explains how IAS 18 and IAS 11 define ‘revenue’ and the principles that underpin the recognition and measurement of revenue. It also reviews some of the implementation examples provided as an accompaniment to IAS 18 and outlines likely changes to the method of accounting for revenue in the future.

access the article here

Substantive procedures
 Relevant to ACCA Qualification Papers F8 (INT) and (UK) and P7 (INT) and (UK) and Foundation Level Paper FAU (INT) and (UK) This article explains the concept of substantive procedures and illustrates how it relates to test of controls, sources of audit evidence, assertions, accounting estimates and common pitfalls to avoid. Substantive procedures are a regular feature of audit exams. A good grasp of this core topic helps in understanding the process of auditing.

access the article here

Labuan – a comprehensive look

SA technical article archive All technical content from Student Accountant is on ACCA’s website ▶

Taxation of trusts in Malaysia Relevant to ACCA Qualification Paper p6 (MYS) A comprehensive focus on the taxation of trusts in Malaysia, including an outline on what trusts are, aspects of tax treatment of trusts and trust beneficiaries, and tax computation of trusts.

access the article here

Presentation and slides
 Relevant to ACCA Qualification students attempting the Oxford Brookes University BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting Advice on completing the presentation requirement of the Skills and Learning Statement of the Research and Analysis Project required for the OBU BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting.

access the article here

Relevant to ACCA Qualification Paper p6 (MYS)


This article aims to pull together various laws and successive development in the relevant laws relating to entities in Labuan, an island in the South China Sea established in 1990 as an international offshore financial centre (IOFC) and rebranded in recent years as an international business financial centre (IBFC).

The purpose of a technical article is to do one of the following: ¤  Elaborate on a technical area in which students perform badly in the exam ¤ Give extra information about areas that are newer to the syllabus, which may therefore have less coverage than more traditional areas ¤  Provide guidance on a specific topic

access the article here Student Accountant | may 2013

NEW EXAMINERs’ ANALYSIS INTERVIEWS New examiners’ analysis interviews are now live on ACCA’s website. They look at student performance in the June 2011, December 2011, June 2012 and December 2012 exam sessions, highlighting where students are performing well, where they are performing less well, and how they can improve their performance. These interviews are an invaluable resource for you in your revision. The content of each interview has been prepared by working closely with the examiner, although the

voices you hear are those of actors playing the roles of an interviewer and the examiner in discussion. The voiceovers accompany a visual presentation which you can watch while you listen to the exam advice. Visit the online resources for the papers you are studying on ACCA’s website to access the new examiners’ analysis interviews.

EXAMINER FEEDBACK reports from examiners on the overall performance of candidates in DECEMBER 2012

FOUNDATION LEVEL PAPERS ▶ Paper MA1 ▶ Paper FA2 ▶ Paper MA2 ▶ Paper FAB ▶ Paper FA1

▶ Paper FFA ▶ Paper FAU ▶ Paper FFm ▶ Paper FTX ▶ Paper FMA

ACCA qualification PAPERS Paper F1 Paper F2 Paper F3 Paper F4

▶ ▶ ▶ ▶

Paper F5 Paper F6 Paper F7 Paper F8

▶ ▶ ▶ ▶

Paper F9 Paper P1 Paper P2 Paper P3

▶ ▶ ▶ ▶

Paper P4 Paper P5 Paper P6 Paper P7

▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ 45

A DEGREE of confidence ‘Gaining the degree shows employers that you have the key graduate skills of self-reflection and communication.’ Affan Ali

Gain a BSc Degree in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University while studying for your ACCA Qualification, and get two qualifications without doubling your workload.

For more information visit

XX 46

RESOURCES all you need to know

From exam entry to recording practical experience, the following pages contain essential information for your journey to membership

48 staying connected

ACCA Connect: contact us 24/7

48 fees

Exam fees and ways to pay


Information about ACCA’s Rulebook


Your online tool for recording practical experience


Information on entering for exams and claiming exemptions


ACCA Qualification and Foundation level exam dates

51  OXFORD BROOKEs UNIVERSITY bsc (hons) Information about the BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University


Web-based system for exam results and other student services

52 regulations

Important exam rules for students intending to take exams in June 2013


Search for a tuition provider using ACCA’s Tuition Provider Directory 47


acca connect

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. +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: myACCA: Student Accountant | MAY 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

FUNDAMENTAL 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 for your knowledge and skill.


Practical experience


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

Computer-based exams


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 one of 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.

▶ 49


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.

Student Accountant | MAY 2013

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

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.


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.


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.



Exam regulations Taking your ACCA examinations is part of your journey towards becoming an ACCA professional accountant and we therefore expect you to act in a professional manner when taking your examinations. The following rules on conduct apply to students completing projects or sitting paper-based and computerbased examinations, as well as those taking internally-assessed ACCA courses. 1 You are required to comply in all respects with any instructions issued by the registrar, examination supervisor and invigilators before and during an examination. 2 You may not attempt to deceive the registrar or the examination supervisor by giving false or misleading information. 3 If you are given reading time at the beginning of the examination, you are not allowed to open or write in your candidate answer booklet during this time. You are, however, permitted to write on your question paper. 4 If you are given reading time at the beginning of the examination, the examination is considered to be in progress from the start of the reading time. 5 You are not allowed to take to your examination desk any books, notes or other materials except those authorised by the registrar. These are known as ‘unauthorised materials’. 6 You are not allowed to possess any unauthorised materials while the examination is in progress (whether at your desk or otherwise). 7 You are not permitted to use a dictionary or an electronic Student Accountant | MAY 2013

translator of any kind or have on or at your desk a calculator which can store or display text. You are also not permitted to use or have on or at your desk a mobile phone, tablet, pager, etc, of any kind. Any kept in bags or briefcases must be switched off at all times in the examination hall. 8 You are not allowed to use, or attempt to use, or intend to use, any unauthorised materials while the examination is in progress. 9 If you breach examination regulation 5, 6, 7 or 8 and the unauthorised materials are relevant to the syllabus being examined, it will be assumed that you intended to use them to gain an unfair advantage in the examination. In any subsequent disciplinary proceedings, you will have to prove that you did not intend to use the unauthorised materials to gain an unfair advantage in the examination. 10 You may not assist, attempt to assist, obtain or attempt to obtain assistance by improper means from any other person during your examinations. 11 You are required to adhere at all times to the Examination Guidelines. 12 You are required to comply with the examination supervisor’s ruling. Supervisors are obliged to report any cases of irregularity or improper conduct to the registrar. The

supervisor is empowered to discontinue your examination if you are suspected of misconduct and to exclude you from the examination hall. 13 You may not engage in any other unprofessional conduct designed to assist you in your examination attempt. 14 You are not permitted to remove either your candidate answer booklet(s) or your question paper from the examination hall. All examination candidate answer booklets remain the property of ACCA. 15 Once the examination has started, you are not allowed to leave the examination hall permanently until the end of the session and then only when instructed by the supervisor. 16 If you attempt to gain an unfair advantage in the examination (whether by breaching an examination regulation or otherwise) you are likely to be removed from ACCA’s student register following disciplinary proceedings. 17 Candidates must not talk to, or attempt to communicate with, other candidates during the examination under any circumstances.

supervisor’s announcements The following important announcements must be made before the start of each examination session. Before the examination begins 1 The examination will be conducted in accordance with the regulations and guidelines outlined in your attendance docket. 2 Please check that you are sitting at the correct desk and that you have been given the correct examination paper with the appropriate tax/law variant. If you are in any doubt please contact an invigilator before the examination begins. 3 Do not open your question paper until I tell you to do so. 4 Your answer booklet will be electronically marked. You must therefore ensure that you complete the details on the front cover of this and all continuation booklets used, using the information from your attendance docket. Failure to do so will result in your booklet not being marked. Please do this now, as I cannot allow any time at the end of the session. 5 To complete the details, you must write the relevant information in the spaces provided. Once you have done this, you must then shade the relevant circle in the column below each number or letter. Only one number or letter must be selected from each column. Black ballpoint pen only must be used for this and for all writing inside your answer booklet. 6 Please remove all items, other than those listed on your attendance docket, from your desk now. Candidates found in possession of unauthorised materials are in breach of the examination regulations and their

conduct will be reported to ACCA. If you attempt to gain an unfair advantage in the examination, you are likely to be removed from ACCA’s student register following disciplinary proceedings. 7 You are not permitted to take mobile phones or pagers to your desk under any circumstances. If you choose to leave such items in your bag they must be switched off. 8 You are not permitted to use a personal organiser, language translator or calculator with the facility to store or display text or a dictionary. Please check now that you do not have such an item on your desk. 9 Please note that you may not leave the hall permanently until the conclusion of the examination. If you require to leave your desk for any reason, you will be escorted by an invigilator. 10 Invigilators will collect your attendance docket and check your identification during the examination. Please place them on your desk ready for this validation process. 11 Candidates sitting examinations with multiple-choice questions must record their answers on page 2 of their answer booklet. You must complete the answer grid on this page as this is the only information processed for marking. Answers indicated on any other pages of the booklet or

on the question paper will not be marked. 12 Candidates attempting three‑hour papers will be given 15 minutes’ reading time at the beginning of the examination. You must not open or write on your answer booklet until I tell you to do so at the end of the 15 minutes. You are however permitted to write on your question paper during this time. 13 I will tell you when there is one hour remaining and when there are 15 minutes to go. 14 You must submit your answer booklet at the end of the examination. 15 You cannot keep your question paper and these will be collected at the end of the session. Your answer booklet will not be marked unless your question paper has been collected. 16 Candidates attempting two-hour papers are requested to leave the room quietly at the end of their examination as there will still be examinations in progress. 17 If there is a problem during the examination, we shall escort you to the nearest emergency exit.


SA May 2013