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  • Kathy Walton reveals how to become a CEO, her family life and background

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 01, 2023

    The second episode of our new YouTube series, Career Goals, is now available to watch, and it features a very special guest - Kaplan UK CEO, Kathy Walton.

    In this episode of Career Goals, host Kelsey Haslam and Kathy Walton discuss all about Kathy’s career history and background so far, including how she got to her current position as Kaplan UK CEO.

    This engaging, quick-witted, and eye-opening episode emphasises that nothing is impossible to reach when working towards your career aspirations, and even people in highly commended job roles can still be just ordinary people from humble backgrounds.

    Key topics discussed


    Kathy talks about her role as a CEO, what this entails and how she worked her way up to this job role.

    She highlights how she started as a student striving to be a tutor at Kaplan but was soon taking on plenty more responsibilities before naturally progressing to become the CEO of Kaplan Financial UK.

    Kathy also reflects back to her roots. She was raised in Bolton and a big football fan, and references this in more detail to showcase how this passion helped her to get to where she is today.

    Never have I ever

    We get to know more about Kathy, her experience and general views while playing a game of Never have I ever. The truth comes out and we find that even the CEO of Kaplan UK hasn’t always been perfect in job interviews!

    Digital stories

    Kelsey asks Kathy to think of a number that’s significant to her. The conversation that follows helps us understand a lot more about Kathy’s personality, her background and how just one number can help shape someone’s views, lifestyle, or career.

    Industry myths

    Kelsey reads out a variety of statements that can be considered ‘myth’ or ‘fact’ to find out Kathy’s views.

    The discussion that follows reveals Kathy’s views on subjects such as economics, whether university is essential to become a CEO, and the characteristics that make a successful CEO.

    Final thoughts

    Kathy answers the closing question: what does ‘career goals’ mean to you?

    Watch the full episode

    The full episode is now available to watch on our YouTube channel. Remember to like, comment, and subscribe so that you never miss an episode with our exciting guests.

    Start your career journey

    Like everyone, Kathy had to start from somewhere. If you’re looking to go into the accounting and finance industry, have a look through our professional qualifications.

    Alternatively, if you believe an apprenticeship is the best route for you, you can browse through our vacancies or read more about how to talk to your employer about starting an apprenticeship.

    If you’re still unsure about where to begin, contact our Student Services Team on 0161 259 7400 or at

    Subscribe to Career Goals and never miss an episode


  • Changez and Laiba Baig talk generational differences, the UGC babe and working in finance

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 17, 2023

    The first episode of our brand new YouTube series, Career Goals, is finally live, and we’ve started off with two very exciting guests.

    Our first episode of Career Goals saw the host, Kelsey Haslam, joined by a father and daughter duo - Changez and Laiba Baig.


    Changez is a traditional accountant and worked his way up to a senior level in his career. From a career perspective, Changez has done it all - starting with an apprenticeship, studying AAT with Kaplan, and then always keeping an open mind about the future developments within the finance industry to help him grow his knowledge, expertise, and career.

    Laiba, Changez’s daughter, also started her career in accounting at fourteen years old, due to the encouragement of her father. However, after working in the industry, she decided to take another career path - completely different to what she and her father expected.

    The funny, inspiring, and thought provoking episode takes a deeper dive into their family dynamic, and how Changez truly feels about Laiba choosing a career as a TikTok content creator over an accountant.

    Key topics discussed


    Laiba and Changez talk about how he always wanted her to be an accountant, but after working in the industry Laiba opted to go down a different career path. She explains how she navigated that transformation despite reservations from Changez.

    Social media

    The topic of social media is raised, discussing Laiba’s work as a content creator with TikTok and how Changez feels about this career path. They highlight the pressures and demands within their family dynamic to put 100% into everything they do.

    Never have I ever

    The truth comes out while Laiba and Changez’s generational similarities and differences are clear to see during a game of Never Have I Ever.

    Industry myths

    Kelsey reads out a variety of statements that can be considered ‘myth’ or ‘fact’ to find out Laiba and Changez’s views - but do they agree with each other?

    The discussion that follows reveals their views on topics such as whether accountancy is a creative career path, the benefits of university versus a professional qualification or apprenticeship, and technological advancements regarding AI, social media, and finance.

    Final thoughts

    The closing question is asked: what does ‘career goals’ mean to you?

    Watch the full episode

    The full episode is now available to watch on our YouTube channel. Remember to like, comment, and subscribe so that you never miss an episode with our exciting guests.

    Start your career journey

    While Changez and Laiba went in opposite directions in terms of their careers, they both still believe that the AAT qualification is extremely useful to have so you can follow whichever career path you choose.

    Find out more about the AAT qualification and study methods, or if you’re still unsure about where to begin, contact our Student Services Team on 0161 259 7400 or at

    Subscribe to Career Goals and never miss an episode


  • Your CIMA Certificate resources, reimagined

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 13, 2023

    Are you ready to take your learning experience to the next level? We are thrilled to announce the launch of our newly reimagined CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting resources. We have redesigned our study materials to offer you a more efficient and interactive learning experience.

    What does this mean?

    In today’s digital age, having strong digital skills is crucial when working in accounting and finance. That’s why we are incorporating digital learning tools to help prepare you for your computer-based exams and your career in the industry.

    This means that our CIMA-approved Study Text and Exam Kit have gone digital.*

    How to access the Bibliu study resources

    When you enrol onto a Kaplan Certificate in Business Accounting course, you have access to CIMA-approved Study Text and Exam Kit eBooks on BibliU. These resources are very easily accessed on any device, allowing you to study at any time, anywhere. eBook access will be granted via MyKaplan - a learning platform that will make your studies much more engaging.

    Our research showed that many learners preferred a blend of physical and digital materials. Therefore, your revision cards and integrated workbook will be delivered to your door.**

    What are the benefits?

    With these new resources, you’ll still have access to MyKaplan, where you’ll find all of your course content and tutor support to ensure you succeed in your studies. Now, you’ll also gain additional access to the BibliU library where the new re-imagined resources provide you with the ability to make your learning experience truly personalised.

    For example, you can highlight important information, take notes, or quickly search for specific terms within your materials - which means no more flipping through several pages to find what you need.

    We understand that everyone learns differently, which is why our resources are designed to accommodate various learning styles. For auditory learners, our read-aloud feature will make digesting content a breeze. Additionally, the text sizes and colours can be adjusted to suit your preferences. And if you’re studying in the evening, the dark mode will give you a more comfortable reading experience.

    The improved accessibility of the Study Text and Exam Kit mean that you’ll no longer need a printed copy due to the significant boost in online accessibility. While this means that you can study anywhere at any time, you’ll also be having a positive impact on the environment.

    Other learner’s thoughts

    Many of our learners have already shared their positive experiences of our Certificate in Business Accounting digital resources.

    One Kaplan classroom learner said, “The features and tools add to my learning experience,” while a Live Online learner mentioned that, “it will make my learning journey more efficient and effective.”

    With all of your notes and annotations in one place, we’ve worked to make your study journey much more accessible and seamless so your experience is one to enjoy.

    For an insight into what to expect from the new, re-imagined resources, watch our video.

    Ready to start your CIMA studies?

    You can study CIMA’s Certificate in Business Accounting through four different study methods. These include classroom or live online courses, where you’ll follow a tutor-led timetable, or via our flexible online methods, OnDemand or Distance Learning, where you can learn the content at any time.

    Ready to get started with CIMA Certificate?

    Browse our courses

    *For Classroom, Live Online and OnDemand courses starting from October 2023. For Distance Learning and OnDemand Subscription courses starting from January 2024.
    ** Printed Integrated Workbook not included in Distance Learning. No printed materials included with OnDemand Subscription.

  • Changing your career in finance

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 18, 2023

    Every year, many people choose to move into a different field in finance for many different reasons, ranging from unhappiness to the opportunity to progress. However, planning a career change isn’t an easy task - it demands a lot of research, effort, and time.

    Let’s have a look at some of our tips on how to plan a career change.

    Assess your interests

    If you’ve already got some work experience behind you, now is a great time to consider your professional skills and interests when choosing where to go next in your career.

    Your job satisfaction and happiness is one of the most important factors when choosing a career. Take a step back and brainstorm what you enjoy doing in your current role, what you’re good at, and what you want to learn more about.

    For example, do you enjoy analysing data, or managing finances? Knowing your strengths, weaknesses and interests will help you identify realistic and fulfilling career options.

    Research trends

    When making a career change, researching the industry is crucial - particularly in finance where the opportunities are vast.

    A valuable starting point is to research industry trends, forecasts, and hiring hotspots. Fortunately, there are plenty of job sites and resources available online to conduct research. But examples of sources that might be good include finance-specific magazines or websites, such as FinMag, Business Insider, or Bloomberg.

    Consider furthering your education

    Once you’ve identified possible career paths, or even if you’re still unsure what you want to do, additional training and education can significantly help you for the transition.

    For example, a qualification such as ACCA or CIMA’s CGMA will be great if you’re looking to develop advanced finance skills and specialise in a specific area, or open up more doors to opportunities.

    The globally-recognised ACCA qualification is great to study to attract the big names in accounting and finance. There are a huge range of exciting opportunities, across many industries - and if you have ambitions to work overseas, ACCA can significantly boost these prospects.

    CIMA’s CGMA qualification is at the forefront of driving the next generation of finance and management professionals. This qualification focuses on disrupting and improving traditional management strategies - with additional opportunities for learners to develop skills beyond what is taught in the world’s biggest business schools.

    It’s important to try and align your educational background with your career options, as this should help you stand out from other experienced candidates.

    Be open to mentorship

    Try to find a mentor-like figure in your workplace or professional space that is working, or has worked, in the field in which you’re interested. Remember to ask them to give you insights, tips, and help you understand industry nuances.

    You can also seek advice from other colleagues or management who may have worked in similar roles to what you’re looking for - and listen to their opinion so that you have a good idea of what to expect.

    Aside from a personal mentor, take advantage of networking opportunities as it will prove to be very helpful when making connections in the future. Networking events, alumni events, and industry conferences are all great places to meet and speak to others in the finance industry.

    Prepare for challenges

    As with any big decision, it’s essential to prepare for any challenges that you may make while making this transition. A career change can be a stressful time, and you may need to be prepared to make temporary sacrifices.

    If you’re not in a position to make these sacrifices, such as a pay reduction, then it may be worth seeking online or part-time training while sustaining your current job, so that you can upskill without losing money. This may help you when it comes to changing careers in the future.

    Final thoughts

    It may be a concerning time for you if you make the decision to change your career path, but if you know that it’s what works best for you - then go for it!

    Our advice would be to do as much research as possible, and try and keep as up to date as possible of industry trends so that you can remain a future-proof, highly sought after professional.

    Ready to upskill?

    If you’re already working in finance but are looking for a career change, it’s always a good idea to try and develop your qualifications and educational background so that you can feel confident going into a new area.

    Some of the qualifications that we would recommend researching are ACCA and CIMA’s CGMA Professional Qualification . You can also read more about how to choose between the two qualifications.

    Ready to upskill?

    Browse our courses

  • What are the highest paying jobs in the UK?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 25, 2023

    It’s no surprise that a good salary is enough to make or break our decision when accepting or applying for job roles.

    The cost of living crisis has led to a significant decline in disposable income for a lot of people, and unfortunately, many people in the UK are struggling to get by. In fact, LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report showed that compensation ranked as number one for what candidates are looking for in 2023. So, it’s clear to see that a highly paid job is well sought after for those who are looking.

    Jobs and salaries

    StandOut CV reported that the current average salary in the UK was £27,756 p/a in November 2022. However, it’s important to note that salary can vary depending on the employer, and location for example.

    If you’re struggling to decide where you want your next career move to go, we’ve had a look into some of the higher paying jobs in the UK and compiled a list together of job roles that appeared on several occasions.

    In no particular order, let’s take a closer look…

    Chief executive officer (CEO) - Average UK salary: £200,555 p/a1
    A CEO is usually the highest-ranking executive in a business. They are reliable decision-makers, and may often act as the ‘face’ of a company. Essentially, although all businesses are different, CEO’s will usually manage all operations of a company.

    Chief financial officer (CFO) - Average UK salary: £98, 405 p/a2
    The CFO will usually work closely with the CEO of an organisation to ensure the financial stability of the company. Generally, they will be responsible for building long-term financial strategies to help the business’ success.

    Chief technology officer (CTO) - Average UK salary: £98, 095 p/a3
    A CTO is another senior member of an organisation, who is responsible for the overall technology strategy and implementation of a business. They would usually oversee all of the technical aspects of an organisation, such as managing the IT infrastructure and exploring new technologies.

    Financial director - Average UK salary: £73, 991 p/a4
    Similar to a CFO, a financial director will be responsible for managing finances within a company. However, this is usually from an accounting perspective, while they will look after financial records and expenses, for example.

    Tax manager - Average UK salary: £63,125 p/a5
    A tax manager will usually be responsible for the tax planning, compliance, tax returns, and accounting for income taxes for an organisation. It’s important to be up to date of tax laws.

    Investment banker - Average UK salary: £60, 641 p/a6
    An investment banker will usually work as part of a financial institution. They work towards raising capital and provide financial consultancy services to an individual or a business.

    Information technology director - Average UK salary: £86, 253 p/a7
    An information technology director is usually the person who is responsible for the IT and computer systems within an organisation. They will be the person who dictates any policies relating to IT.

    Business analyst - Average UK salary: £58, 357 p/a8
    A business analyst would come into an organisation, or advise an organisation, on what they can do to help their business grow. They will usually have a good understanding of interpreting data and utilising this to grow the company.

    Data analyst - Average UK salary: £44, 422 p/a9
    A data analyst will collect data for an organisation and analyse this to make strategic business decisions. A data analyst can appear somewhat similar to a business analyst, but there are many differences. In simpler terms, a data analyst will usually analyst and report on the data, whereas a business analyst will use this to help the business grow.

    Software developer - Average UK salary: £51, 274 p/a10
    Software developers can also be known as computer engineers or software engineers, for example. They will usually be involved in the process of creating, deploying and supporting computer software.

    How to get a higher paying job

    The job roles above all fall under the ‘highest paying jobs in the UK’ category and will continue to remain due to the increased need for skilled professionals in the data, technology and finance industries.

    Of course, we are forgetting job roles such as a lawyer, surgeon, or pilot in this list which are all often considered as high paying jobs. However, for the list above, we can help you reach that career goal.

    But we all have to start from somewhere. Whether you’re looking for a career change, hoping to upskill, or step into the working world for the first time, you can find your starting point and work towards those career aspirations.

    Getting a job in the accountancy and tax industry

    Job roles such as CEO, CFO, financial director, and tax manager will usually fall in the accountancy and tax industry. Therefore, having knowledge in these areas is vital to succeed and land one of these careers.

    Most CEOs and CFOs will have a background in finance, business, economics or management. Qualifications such as ACCA or CIMA can help you reach this goal. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to put in the hard work to gain the experience and leadership skills to work your way up to this level.

    Financial directors and tax managers are both job roles within the accountancy field. As well as gaining the experience, most employers will be looking for someone who is qualified with ACCA or ACA to become a tax manager or financial director.

    The recommended first step into this job industry for someone with no prior experience is to begin your studies with the AAT qualification, the ACCA Foundation levels, or the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting. Any of these routes will act as a foundation for any further qualifications.

    Getting a job in the banking and finance industry

    For job roles such as investment banking, qualifications such as the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) will help you gain knowledge of alternative investments such as hedge funds, private equity, real estate, commodities, and derivatives. This will ultimately guide you through to reaching your career goals as an investment banker.

    Getting a job in the data and technology industry

    Data and technology skills are well sought after by employers across every industry. Most of the highest paying jobs in the UK and beyond are within this industry. Therefore, at Kaplan, we offer apprenticeships to help you meet those career goals.

    To work towards becoming an information technology director, a great route would be to start the Information Communications Technician Level 3 apprenticeship, which will give you the direct experience and knowledge to progress your career.

    Level 4 apprenticeships such as the Business Analyst and Data Analyst programmes will help you reach those career goals. Whereas a career in software engineering or development can benefit from an apprenticeship such as the Level 4 Software Developer apprenticeship.

    Work towards that higher pay

    No matter what your current situation is, there are always options to progress your career and aim for those high paying jobs. You just need to know where to look and be prepared to put in the hard work.

    At Kaplan, we offer the qualifications, courses, and apprenticeship programmes that will help give you the boost that you need to reach your career goals.

    If you need any further advice or information, get in touch with our team by calling 0161 259 7400 or email them at

    Want to get started?

    Browse all courses

    1. Glassdoor, CEO Salaries in United Kingdom, 2023
    2. Payscale, Average Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Salaries in the United Kingdom, 2023
    3. Payscale, Average Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Salary in United Kingdom, 2023
    4. Payscale, Average Finance Director Salary in United Kingdom, 2023
    5., Average Tax Manager salary in the UK, 2023
    6. Payscale, Average Investment Banker Salary in United Kingdom, 2023
    7. Payscale, Average Information Technology (IT) Director Salary in United Kingdom, 2023
    8., Average Business Analyst salary in the UK, 2023
    9., Average Data Analyst salary in the UK, 2023
    10., Average Software Developer salary in the UK, 2023

  • Webinar: working in forensic accounting

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 07, 2023

    We recently held a webinar to hear from partner and entrepreneur at DSW Bridge Houghton Forensic, Kate Beckett, who spoke about what it’s like to work in forensic accounting.

    Event panellists

    Kate Beckett - partner and entrepreneur DSW Bridge Houghton Forensic

    Kate qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2006 at Deloitte, and then worked in the Forensic and Dispute Services Team until 2014. She joined DSW Bridge Houghton Forensic at that point, bringing with her a wide variety of forensic accounting skills from a broad range of forensic assignments across multiple industries.

    She has also spent periods of time on secondment in industry, including a large Financial Institution assisting their Financial Crime team, by implementing enhanced Anti-Money Laundering processes.

    Jenny Pelling - Apprenticeship Partnerships Director, Kaplan Financial

    Joining Kate was Jenny Pelling, Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity at Kaplan UK. Jenny’s career in education and apprenticeships has seen her involvement in designing programmes and enhancing provision for learners and employers’ benefit.

    She has strategic responsibility for apprentices’ career progression and their personal development. Jenny also leads “Brighter Futures,” at Kaplan which focuses on social mobility and providing opportunities for all.

    Key topics discussed

    Kate and Jenny’s Q+A

    The discussion kicks off with a question and answer session from Jenny to delve further into Kate’s career, views, and experience.

    Kate’s career

    Jenny asks Kate to provide some background information regarding her career path. Kate provides details such as how she qualified in ACCA, worked at Deloitte and the jobs that this would include. She now works for DSW Bridge Houghton Forensic, and explained how she transitioned into that workplace and the difference in her job role.

    What is a forensic accountant?

    Kate provides a detailed insight into a day in the life of a forensic accountant. She explains in more detail what a forensic accountant does, and what this means for anyone looking to explore that area of accounting and finance.

    Skills in forensic accounting

    Jenny enquires about the difference in skills between Kate’s role now as a forensic accountant compared to working in audit. Kate highlights a few key skills that are important to her role, particularly mentioning examples such as attention to detail, robustness and credibility. She continues by providing examples of how specific skills are utilised in this industry while comparing them with tasks for those who may work in audit.

    The conversation dives further into cross examination skills which can be required in your job role as a forensic accountant, while Kate gives an explanation of how to prepare for tasks like this.

    Audience Q+A

    Jenny opens up for questions from viewers of the webinar, many of whom are apprentices with Kaplan interesting to go into this area of accounting and finance.

    How to get into forensic accounting

    Kate explores the topics of relevant qualifications to get into the industry, how to demonstrate that you have the skills required, and how to get opportunities.

    The discussion addresses factors that employers may be looking for. Kate addresses differences in qualifications, such as ACCA, ACA and ATT, and what employers may be looking for, as well as the differences between your work experience being with a large accounting business compared to smaller companies.

    The role of data

    Kate showcases examples of how the knowledge of how to interpret and analyse data is used in forensic accounting, and having this knowledge, the resources, or access to someone with the skills is increasingly important as everything becomes more and more digitalised.

    Average salary in forensic accounting

    Jenny asks if Kate can compare the salaries in this area of accounting compared to others. Kate provides her own perspectives while explaining how it usually depends on the company and the individual’s skills.

    What experience do you gain in your first year of forensic accounting?

    Kate shares her own experience when working in forensic accounting after working for three years in audit. She talks about how her ideas were recognised and appreciated, and how she was provided many opportunities to gain experience in different areas of the role and become part of larger projects where she could showcase and develop her skills.

    The role of AI in forensic accounting

    An apprentice in the audience asks for Kate’s views on artificial intelligence (AI) and whether its introduction will have a positive or negative impact on the role of a forensic accountant.

    In response, Kate provides her opinions supported by her experience, and how AI can be an effective tool as long as the business is accepting of it.

    Watch the full recording online

    To catch up with Kate and Jenny’s recent discussion and gain more of an understanding into the realities and day in the life of a forensic accountant, watch the full conversation on our YouTube channel.

    Interested in an apprenticeship?

    Boost your future with an apprenticeship and gain the necessary skills, knowledge, and behaviours to support your career aspirations. If you’re interested in an apprenticeship, browse our current vacancies online or read our blog about how to talk to your employer about doing an apprenticeship.

    If you are an employer interested in enrolling your colleagues onto an apprenticeship, contact the team today or find out more on our apprenticeships for employers page.

    Looking for an apprenticeship?

    Browse our vacancies

  • PQ Awards 2023: Kaplan tutor, Matt Dean, wins lecturer of the year

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 01, 2023

    Back in April, we were very honoured to attend the PQ Awards 2023 with nominations in several categories. The evening was held at Proud Embankment in London, where several attendees from across the country in the accounting industry gathered to celebrate and recognise each other’s success.

    This year, we are honoured to say that Kaplan is home to an award-winning tutor, Matt Dean. After being nominated for the Lecturer of the Year award, Matt Dean took home the trophy, making himself, his learners, and all of his colleagues at Kaplan very proud.

    Kaplan’s nominations

    We were very happy to be shortlisted for six awards from learners and tutors to individual projects. This year's nominees were:

    Lecturer of the Year

    Matt Dean
    Penelope Merison

    Innovation in Accountancy

    CIMA FLP Skills Premium project

    Accountancy personality

    Neil Da Costa

    Podcast of the Year

    Kaplan Learn Better Podcast

    Distance Learning Student of the Year

    Daniel Salas

    And we give a huge congratulations to Matt Dean who won the Lecturer of the Year award.

    Matt Dean - Lecturer of the Year

    After the ceremony, we caught up with Matt to hear his thoughts after receiving such a commendable award:

    "We had the most incredible evening. Every time I step into a classroom my main goal is simply not to embarrass myself too much, so I felt shocked and humbled to even be nominated. Thank you to Andrew Mower and Jenny Pelling for the nomination and helping to make me a better tutor."

    To add to his success, quotes from some of Matt’s learners were highlighted, showing their appreciation of him as a tutor:

    “An absolutely fantastic tutor. Interesting, funny, approachable. He made me enjoy tax.”

    “I really enjoyed the course and thought the tutor was outstanding. Matthew genuinely made the course 1000 times more enjoyable and interesting than I ever thought possible based on the textbook alone. I want him to tutor me for all my courses please!”

    “As he has studied ACA relatively recently, he is able to give good advice and understand what areas we may struggle with.”

    “Matthew is a great tutor who is approachable, knowledgeable, and who always conveys the information of his teaching in a thorough, complete but also concise manner.”

    PQ AWARDS winner with trophy and supporters

    Going above and beyond

    Not only was Matt recognised for his exceptional teaching skills, but he is a Wellbeing Champion at Kaplan and has supported our mental health initiatives with dedication and empathy.

    In 2022, he co-chaired a session on suicide prevention awareness with the charity, Papyrus, and also hosted a session to mark International Men’s Day in November 2021 on mental health with Andy’s Man Club.

    Kaplan’s Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity, Jenny Pelling, said:

    “Matt’s involvement in Kaplan’s wellbeing initiatives has been a game changer. He is one of my ‘go-to’ tutors for any additional videos we might create to reassure apprentices, or talks we provide on mental health.

    He has a tremendous impact on so many learners, but is never self-aggrandising. Quite simply, he makes the workplace a better place and enriches the lives of those who get to work alongside him or be taught by him.”

    Congratulations, Matt

    We are very proud to offer accountancy and tax courses led by tutors as exceptional as Matt, and we would love to congratulate him for this incredible award.

    If you are interested in starting your studies and working towards an exciting career in accountancy and tax, browse our courses, or get in touch with our team at or on 0161 259 7400.

    Interested in starting your studies?

    Find out more

  • Webinar: Flying high: from apprentice to FC at Luton Airport

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 26, 2023

    As part of Enrichment Week 2023, we recently held a webinar with guest speaker, Pete Cave, who discusses his career journey from an apprentice to group financial controller at Luton Airport.

    Event panellists

    Pete Cave, Group Financial Controller, London Luton Airport Association

    Group Financial Controller for London Luton Airport Association, Pete Cave, led the webinar to highlight his career journey so far. Pete previously qualified with AAT and the ICAEW, and has recently become a fellow (FCA).

    He has over fifteen years of experience working in the accountancy sector in various roles. Pete worked at Baker Tilly for a number of years, gaining experience in their audit department and working on business improvement in the UK while travelling internationally with Baker Tilly International. He also led a team as part of an acquisition when working in industry prior to moving to the airport.

    Jenny Pelling, Apprenticeship Partnerships Director, Kaplan UK

    Joining Pete was Jenny Pelling, Apprenticeship Partnerships Director at Kaplan UK. Jenny’s career in education and apprenticeships has seen her involvement in designing programmes and enhancing provision for learners and employers’ benefit.

    She has strategic responsibility for apprentices’ career progression and their personal development. Jenny also leads “Brighter Futures,” at Kaplan which focuses on social mobility and providing opportunities for all.

    Key topics discussed

    Pete’s career and background

    Pete kicks off the conversation by introducing himself, his job role, and how he started his accountancy career with his AAT qualification. He develops on this by talking through his career journey so far and how his apprenticeship helped him to get to where he is today.

    Pete continues to explain how the skills he developed helped him to get his role at Luton Airport, which was supported by his interest in the aviation industry as well as finance.

    Day-to-day jobs

    Jenny asks Pete to give an example of what the ‘average day’ in his job role is like at Luton Airport. However, Pete’s explanation showcases the variety of jobs and tasks that he may do each day.

    He explains further that each day he ensures that his team is aligned and heading towards achieving their team and business objectives. He talks in more detail about the individual tasks that he and his team will do regularly, as well as the importance of understanding the business goals to ensure that his team is providing quality service.

    Speech marks

    “I’m a firm believer of getting out from behind a desk and getting involved in the wider business.”

    Curiosity and the transition from practice to industry roles

    Pete discusses his experience, including pros and cons that come with leaving audit practice and going into an industry role. He shares how it is important to work for a company that you’re interested in and excited to work for.

    Speech marks

    “It’s important to find an area that you’re interested in so that you have a passion for what you’re doing.”

    A dose of realism

    Jenny questions Pete on the ‘down days,’ and challenges involved in his job role that many professionals may usually avoid talking about. Pete highlights the internal and external factors that can make his job quite intense.

    He expands on this by providing examples of how he overcomes any challenges in the workplace.

    Advice for growing your career in the aviation and finance industry

    Pete provides advice, tips and personal knowledge on how finance professionals can grow their career, particularly in reference to the aviation industry. He also gives examples of what is important to research before an interview, and some of the answers that employers aren’t looking for in an interview.

    Continuing the conversation, Pete talks through a few of the skills and qualities that he has gained which helped him progress in his career, such as the passion and determination to achieve his goals.

    Taking that leap: industry and practice differences

    The differences between practice and industry are discussed, with Pete highlighting that the pros and cons will depend on the specific industry and the individual.

    He dives into the topic in more detail by using his experience to showcase the main differences between industry and practice while providing tips and resources on how to get into industry if you’ve previously worked in practice.

    Speech marks

    “Push yourself, try and get yourself out of your comfort zone and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.”

    Major challenges

    Jenny provides examples of major challenges in the UK and abroad while asking Pete whether they have any involvement in supporting the business in those cases. Pete explains how they always aim to put the customer first, and gives examples of how the finance teams will support the airport and its visitors in more serious incidents.

    Watch the full recording online

    You can catch up on the full discussion online now and get some inspiration on how you can progress your career.


    If you’re interested in an apprenticeship, browse our current vacancies now or find out more information.

    Interested in an apprenticeship?

    Find out more

  • Proof that Kaplan learners are the best in the world: meet our March 2023 ACCA prizewinners

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 17, 2023

    Studying for your ACCA can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. But to find out you’ve won a prize for all of your hard work feels incredible. Have a look at some of our learners who achieved such commendable results in the March 2023 sitting.

    How the prizes are awarded

    In the attempt to show recognition of outstanding exam achievements, ACCA rewards learners who achieve 85% or above in BT, MA, FA, and LW with a Certificate of Achievement in recognition of their success. Cash prizes are also awarded to those who attain the highest mark worldwide for their individual exams. In addition to this, those who achieve the highest total average worldwide in their Strategic Professional exams are awarded with a medal.

    The recent March 2023 sitting found several Kaplan learners achieve fantastic results.

    Kaplan’s ACCA prizewinners

    Highest total average marks for Strategic Professional worldwide

    1st Place Affiliate - Sabina Akhtar

    Winning 1st place affiliate means that Sabina achieved the highest overall marks in the world in the Strategic Professional exams. We caught up with Sabina to hear how she felt after finding out her achievement:

    “I was pretty relieved to see that I’d passed, especially as this was my last exam. But I was also quite shocked as I did not expect to do so well, nor did I expect to achieve the gold prize!”

    If you’re studying, or looking to study, for your ACCA, there are not many people that are more qualified than Sabina to give you some top tips:

    “My top tips for other ACCA learners would be that even though it gets hard, it’s only a temporary journey. So persevere and you will fly through each exam. Also, hard work does truly pay off. I never aimed to be a prizewinner, I just genuinely want to do so well in my exams, and it was the time and effort that I put into my revision that helped me to achieve this amazing award.

    But always make sure that you take time out for yourself to relax and unwind, and don’t feel guilty about it!”

    2nd Place Affiliate - Rebecca Kennedy

    Rebecca also shared her reaction to her prize and tips for other learners that are in a similar position:

    “I was extremely happy to find out I had won a prize in the March exam sitting. This was my final ACCA exam paper so it was a great way to finish off the qualification and finish my exams! I wasn’t expecting to win a prize so when I saw the email come through it was quite a shock, especially with it being for my average mark for the Strategic Professional exams, it felt like a great achievement.

    My top tips would be to make a checklist of things you want to complete during your revision, check them off as you go and put in the work to ensure you go into the exam feeling good! I feel like going into the exam with a positive attitude allows you to give it your best go. Also, I think it’s important to find the study method that works best for you - I prefer reading to watching videos, for example.”

    3rd Place Affiliate - Hayden Lefley

    We also recently caught up with Hayden who shared how he felt about his incredible achievement:

    “I received this prize upon the completion of my ACCA qualification, so I was very excited to be finishing on such a high! With there being thousands of candidates, it would be unrealistic for me to expect a prize. However, I certainly aimed to deliver prize-winning answers in all of my exams.

    My top tip would be to use the resources available to build a deep understanding of the topics you are being examined on. If you have a deeper understanding as opposed to memorising facts, it becomes a lot easier to recall the large volume of content required in the exam.

    Further to recalling the necessary content, the best answers will be tailored to the given question and case. I really tried to capitalise on my thorough understanding to make every point specific to the case and questions. By doing so, I was confident that I would pick up the marks available.”

    Highest mark worldwide for individual exams

    ACCA Advanced Audit and Assurance (International) - Daniel Gordon

    ACCA Audit and Assurance - Ryan Barnes

    Not only did Ryan achieve such an impressive result in his exam, but he also self-studied with Kaplan’s published resources.

    ACCA Advanced Taxation - Becca Ross

    Again, Becca self-studied with Kaplan materials which helped her to achieve 96 out of a possible 100 marks.

    We would like to congratulate everyone who achieved such incredible results, those who passed their exams, and those who are still studying to reach their career aspirations. We understand that it can be difficult and a lot of hard work, but if you persevere, you will succeed.

    Want to see your name on this list?

    If you’re interested in studying for your ACCA with Kaplan, have a browse through our courses. We ensure that all learners feel supported throughout their whole journey, so if you’re looking for any more information, contact our team at or on 0161 259 7400.

    Want to study ACCA?

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  • Would you fit in with Dunder Mifflin’s accounting department?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 13, 2023

    Warning! May contain spoilers from The Office (US)

    If you’re a fan of The Office (US), you’ll know all about the eccentric, relatable characters that work for Dunder Mifflin's paper company. Many of us have witnessed how the show is somewhat of a microcosm of the traditional 9-5 office while highlighting how the fun side of your job can often go unnoticed.

    At Kaplan, a big part of our focus is on providing the best accounting qualifications. We have been delivering accountancy training in the UK for over 80 years, partnered with leaders from industry and global institutes, and delivered consistently high pass rates. But there are still many misconceptions, and confusion, surrounding what it means to be an accountant.

    The Office (US) is often unrealistic, but very relatable, especially with a whole accounting department with contrasting personalities. So, in the spirit of fun, let’s take a deeper dive into the accountants at Dunder Mifflin, and see where you would fit…

    The accountants

    Throughout the majority of The Office (US) seasons, there are three accountants: Angela, Oscar, and Kevin. If you’re a fan, you’ll know that their opposing and, at many points, questionable personalities clashed quite often. It’s even regularly noted that just one person could have done the job that the three of them were hired for.

    Kevin Malone

    Kevin is the easiest accountant to criticise. Let’s be honest, he’s not exactly the type of employee that you should strive to be. In fact, he’s possibly the perfect example of how not to be an accountant. Nevertheless, he still works in the Dunder Mifflin accounting department, so it’s only right if we take a closer look at how he does things.

    Kevin Malone from The Office US

    * Image credit: The Office (US) official Facebook page.

    Keleven. For those who don’t know, ‘Keleven’ was a number that Kevin invented himself. Needless to say, you shouldn’t invent your own numbers when you start your career in accounting. But if we’re assessing whether you’d fit in the team, if the bar is this low, you’d likely do just fine.

    Food maths. Despite several of Kevin’s bad habits, he does appear to be educated, and there are occasions where we see that there is some accounting knowledge behind his facade. According to a diploma hanging in his workspace, Kevin gained an Associate of Science degree in Accounting. Not only this but there are times when his advanced maths skills come to life.

    In one episode of The Office (US), the Dunder Mifflin team is aiming to get to a pie store before it closes. With pies on the line, Kevin comes to the rescue with his extremely quick, mental maths calculations that determines how quickly they need to travel to reach the store within five minutes. So, although Kevin has his downfalls, with the right motivation he is quite capable of his job.

    Dunder Mifflin’s laid-back office culture is likely the catalyst of Kevin’s work ethic. But, in some ways, Kevin’s mental maths skills are very useful when aiming to be an accountant, hopefully, yours will appear more regularly than when sweet treats are involved!

    Angela Martin (Schrute)

    Angela is much more competent than Kevin and is the head of the accounting department which must mean something, right? There are a lot of downfalls to Angela: she’s quite cold, unforgiving and hard to please. But, as an accountant, I guess she’s not too bad.

    Angel Martin from The Office US

    * Image credit: The Office (US) official Facebook page.

    Direct and outspoken. A few of Angela’s qualities can be considered both positive and negative. She is always the first person to address Kevin’s mistakes, which can be very judgemental and patronising at times, but at least she’s direct. Angela is also very confident in her abilities as an accountant and takes her job seriously most of the time.

    Of course, as someone seeking a career in accounting, you should hope to have some fun and relax from time to time, which Angela certainly wasn’t a believer in. However, her self-discipline and serious work ethic are possibly what helped her to become the head of the department, so there are a few qualities to admire.

    Oscar Martinez

    Oscar is arguably the most competent of the trio, and someone that you could realistically aspire to be like as you embark on your accounting career. All of the Dunder Mifflin team have their downfalls, but Oscar is clearly very intelligent and almost single-handedly tries to keep the business afloat.

    Oscar Martinez from The Office US

    * Image credit: The Office (US) official Facebook page.

    Level headed. Oscar is the go-to person to talk his colleagues (particularly Michael Scott) down from extreme and unrealistic decisions, particularly if it involves financial consequences. Throughout the show, Oscar displays himself as an analytical, level-headed and strategic thinker, who can also remain calm under pressure.

    Oscar is a good example of a more realistic or commendable accountant. He also showcases his leadership skills throughout the series, he’s not afraid to highlight mistakes made by Kevin and Angela while remaining respectful. Although Oscar can be a bit too confident at times and make careless mistakes due to cutting corners, if you’re asking us, he’s quite a high target to aspire to be!

    Would you fit in as an accountant?

    As an accountant, you probably would fit in with the Dunder Mifflin team, and then there will possibly be four people doing the job that one could do! But, if we’re being honest, due to the chaotic nature of the whole office, we hope that you will aim a little higher than a workplace like Dunder Mifflin. If you’re a fan of The Office (US), it’s common knowledge that the productivity levels are extremely low. So, we’re sorry to break it to you, but your future job role is likely to feature a lot more work and slightly less fun.

    Nevertheless, Kevin, Angela and Oscar all hold some qualities that employers are looking for from an accountant, so maybe they can act as your inspiration in some way. And, judging by The Office (US), whether you’d prefer to work in a team or independently, there is much more fun to be had behind a traditional 9-5 office job than you would initially think.

    Browse our accounting and finance courses

    Find out more

    * All images are courtesy of The Office (US) official Facebook page.

  • Thinking of studying CIMA but unsure of where to start?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 26, 2023

    Routes to earning the CGMA designation come in all different ways: various study methods, pathways, and qualifications, but what is best for you?

    Studying CIMA

    On completion of the qualification, and becoming a CIMA member, you'll be entitled to the CGMA designation. You’ll be a member of the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants, specialising in finance, accounting, and business-related subjects. With a world of opportunities awaiting you once you have the letters CGMA after your name, it’s no surprise that you’re interested in getting started with your studies.

    Let’s take a closer look at what you can do.

    1. The traditional route

    CIMA has two qualifications, if you are doing an apprenticeship the first is Level 4 and the second is a Level 7 qualification.

    The first is the Certificate in Business Accounting, the second is CIMA’s CGMA Professional Qualification.

    Certificate in Business Accounting

    The syllabus consists of four subjects where you will develop your basic knowledge and learn the fundamentals of specific areas. Each subject is assessed with an exam. The exams are OnDemand and can be sat at any time and either at a Pearson Vue centre or remotely at home.

    If you have little or no previous accounting experience or qualifications, then starting with Certificate in Business Accounting is right for you. It is a qualification in its own right and can lead to roles such as accounts clerk or administration. It also serves as the entry route to the Professional Qualification.

    CIMA’s CGMA Professional Qualification

    Upon successful completion of the Certificate in Business Accounting (or with exemptions approved by CIMA), you can continue your studies with the Professional Qualification. The syllabus is split into three levels, and each level consists of three Objective Test exams, and a Case Study exam, where you apply your knowledge from the three Objective Test subjects:

    • Operational level. This is the first level in the Professional Qualification and focuses on the short-term and the implementation of decisions.
    • Management level. The second level of the Professional Qualification focuses on translating long-term decisions into medium-term plans.
    • Strategic level. The final level of the qualification will be more advanced as you will focus on long-term strategic decision-making.

    Find out more about CIMA’s qualifications.

    Study methods

    At Kaplan, we offer four different study methods that support the traditional route. They vary in price, recommended study time, and completion, but whichever you choose will help you on your way to success.


    Ideal if you learn best with direct guidance. You can take advantage of having a tutor teaching the content as well as the open discussion with your peers to chat about what you’re learning - just like back in the school days before laptops took over the classrooms.

    Live Online

    If the classroom course appeals to you but just isn’t viable, Live Online may be the solution. With live lectures available, plus convenient recordings so you can watch them again later, there's no missing out on valuable teaching. Plus, if something requires further explanation or review, your tutor is just one email away from providing help.


    If you're a self-directed learner who needs just the right amount of guidance, OnDemand courses could be perfect for you. It provides video tutorials, led by our expert tutors. But don't worry if your attention span isn't so long, these tutorials are designed to be consumed in short bursts, and backed up by printed materials or online texts. Although the lectures aren’t live, you will still have access to the ‘contact a tutor’ option in your MyKaplan learning platform.

    Distance Learning

    The most affordable study method, distance learning is great for you if you’re independent, accountable and have good self-discipline. There are little to no online videos with this method, and your materials will be your best friend while studying.

    2. The CGMA® Finance Leadership Program (FLP)

    The newest route to qualification is the CGMA Finance Leadership Program (FLP). FLP is available as a one, two, or three year subscription and includes all the learning and assessment materials across the complete Professional Qualification.

    Kaplan is the official partner of CGMA FLP Skills Premium, an enhanced FLP offering. It includes live tutor-led sessions to top up the knowledge learnt independently as well as a comprehensive case study review course, and tailored materials. Those enrolled on FLP Skills Premium also get academic support from expert tutors through emails and live chat, and coaching emails to support through the qualification. For further details see FLP Skills Premium.

    Unlike more traditional routes, the FLP seamlessly mixes learning with continuous assessment (topic level assessments). This means you won’t sit any OT exams, just the three Case Studies. In a nutshell, if exam pressure makes you feel uneasy then the CGMA FLP Skills Premium might just be perfect for you.

    The Finance Leadership Program now includes Foundational Level, allowing learners with no previous qualifications or exemptions to start FLP.

    3. Apprenticeships

    There are many benefits to working towards the CGMA designation as part of an apprenticeship. The programme combines the ‘technical knowledge’ of accountancy which is learnt through studying for the qualification, with the development of essential skills and behaviours to create well-rounded professionals. By working towards your accountancy goals via an apprenticeship you can expect:

    • To earn a salary throughout your studies
    • Have dedicated time assigned each week towards your personal development using our online modules and tutor-led development sessions
    • To be assessed frequently on your development with the opportunity for regular feedback
    • To demonstrate how you can apply what you’re learning back at work
    • Continuous support from Kaplan, alongside tutors and Talent Coaches.

    If you are considering the apprenticeship route, you will need support from your employer and line manager, who will be essential to your success. If you are looking for an employer take a look at Kaplan’s jobs board for active jobs open.

    4. Materials only

    Do you want to study CIMA’s qualifications but you’re not quite looking for that tutor relationship yet, and you feel like you have the self-motivation to do it alone? Breaking away from structured courses and using only printed materials can be effective, but also a lonely place.

    We wouldn’t recommend using only printed materials, our courses are built on years of data and learning science and will provide you additional resources, tutor support, and some clear guidance for what to study and when. This can really be the difference between a successful or failing relationship with yourself and your CIMA studies.

    However, if you are a highly independent learner, or you’re part of a study support group amongst your peers, then passing CIMA’s exams with only printed materials has been done before. Ensure that you purchase all the available materials through the Kaplan Publishing website, At Kaplan, we are the official publisher of CIMA’s materials so purchasing Kaplan material means that you are purchasing content reviewed by the CIMA Faculty team.

    When you purchase materials, you will also gain online access to materials such as mock exams through the MyKaplan platform.

    Still unsure?

    We know that it is often a difficult decision to make when starting your studies, but we’re here to help. Get in touch with our Student Services team by calling 0161 259 7400 or emailing They will be happy to help you find the route that is perfect for you. We’re really excited you are considering CIMA’s qualifications and are really excited about what the future may bring for you on completion!

    Our UK phone lines are open:

    Monday - Thursday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
    Friday: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
    Saturday: 09:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Sunday and UK Bank Holidays: 09:00 am - 1:00 pm

    Let’s start your exciting CIMA studies

    Find out more

  • Accountancy around the world

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 15, 2023

    While a gap year is very popular, everyone has a different experience. You may find this to be a trip of a lifetime that will help provide clarity on your future career goals, or it might just be an expensive holiday. But, if you work in finance, you may find that you can get the best experience while still earning money and working abroad.

    In this episode of our Learn Better Podcast, host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan, looks at accountancy all around the world with guest, Dominic Horne.

    Dominic is a Senior Manager at Robert Walters, one of the world’s leading specialists in professional recruitment. Robert Walters has over 4000 employees worldwide and operates in over 30 countries.

    Dominic and Stuart discuss everything about accountancy around the world.

    Key topics discussed

    Dominic's career journey

    Dominic opted not to go to university after leaving full-time education and went straight into employment while studying AAT and then ACCA. He discusses how he contacted Robert Walters for them to help him find a career in finance, yet this resulted in him working with their company.

    He shares more details of his job role and how he works with clients and candidates domestically and internationally.

    Speech marks

    “I’ve seen and worked with businesses that I never knew existed.”

    Skills: Finance, technical and personal

    Dominic talks about his personal and professional skills, highlighting that he is a natural people-person who can read people and dissect what’s important to them.

    As well as Dominic’s personal skills, he also mentions the skills that are usually expected from all accountants, such as attention to detail, analytical thinking and resilience. He highlights the technical and personal skills needed in a finance role while talking about his experience of the dramatic shift in clients who seek technically skilled professionals.

    Speech marks

    “Good, strong technical accountants are in demand globally”

    While a finance career is transferable across many different countries, they also talk more specifically about the requirements that are sought after for those who wish to relocate for work. One key message is that the IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) is generally accepted worldwide, so it’s important to have a working and proficient knowledge of those and how to apply them.

    Travelling and working

    Stuart and Dominic offer advice to listeners who are looking to work abroad. He mentions the sponsorship and language requirements in specific countries, as well as the most popular destinations for professionals.

    Aside from the international element of his role, Dominic also highlights the rise in sustainability concerns amongst candidates and clients.

    Speech marks

    “We’re seeing a lot of the younger talent coming through and caring about the social position of the business and what they’re doing to give back to society.”

    Do your homework

    Dominic and Stuart talk about the importance of doing your research before moving abroad to work. Discussing the possibility of secondments, and asking yourself questions such as do you have a support network in the country?

    They also talk through many different options to work abroad, making the most out of your situation, and how different nations require different levels of qualifications or experience.

    Speech marks

    “If you want a career in finance, it is infinitely better to pursue a qualification than not.”

    Listen to the full conversation

    Dominic shares many tips, advice and his experience with Stuart throughout the podcast. Listen to the full episode (episode 29) online now.

    Start your career journey

    Browse our courses

  • How CIMA's CGMA changes will impact your career

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 13, 2023

    The CIMA® (Chartered Institute of Management Accounting) Professional Qualification is now called the CGMA® (Chartered Global Management Accountant) Professional Qualification.

    Although the name has changed, there have been no changes to the syllabus, CIMA membership, or the reputation of CGMA designation holders. But instead, it helps to align the terminology to create one globally recognised standard for management accounting. Crucially, the CGMA designation remains a CIMA qualification.

    What is CGMA?

    Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) is the most widely held management accounting designation in the world*, and is awarded to CIMA members upon completion of the Professional Qualification, this remains unchanged. By adding CGMA to the name of the Professional Qualification, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants® intend to reinforce its significance with employers and the management accountant community. In the Association’s own words, “the CGMA designation deserves to be seen, not just heard.”

    How do I obtain the CGMA designation?

    If you’re studying for your CIMA Professional Qualification, the good news is that you don’t need to do anything extra! Other than, of course, studying for your Professional qualification and working hard. Once you have completed this, including completing the practical experience requirements (PER) and becoming a CIMA member, you’ll automatically be entitled to the CGMA designation.

    What does this mean for me?

    As the only change to the Professional Qualification is the name, CIMA members will continue to have all the same opportunities as before, with the added benefit of increased global recognition. As this recognition builds, your opportunities as a CGMA designation holder will only expand, it should make you excited for an extremely bright future ahead.

    The world is your oyster

    To begin with, CGMA designation holders can treat the entire world as their job market offering you a wide range of international opportunities and job prospects.

    The Association states: “Having these designatory letters tells the world you’re a trusted business strategist with the ability to connect all aspects of business to drive sustainable success. It says you have a commitment to professional ethics and a code of conduct.

    Backed by a powerful array of benefits, your CGMA designation will let you stay connected to the pulse of your profession and become a champion for the business.” **

    Progress your career further

    It’s no secret that you may aim to progress more and more throughout your career in accounting and finance. You would usually do this by specialising in specific areas or by seeking promotions within your current workplace.

    The CGMA competency framework provides the foundations for the Professional Qualification, so as a learner, you’ll be developing the right mix of skills and knowledge that employers will be looking for. The Framework is made up of four skill areas which can significantly develop your technical, business, leadership and people skills, which gives you the foundations to progress your career and stand out from the competition.

    Ready to start your CGMA journey?

    Take the first step towards earning the CGMA designation and browse our courses online.

    *AICPA & CIMA, Your journey to the CGMA® designation
    ** AICPA & CIMA, Earning CIMA’s CGMA® Professional Qualification

    Browse our CIMA courses

    Find out more

  • Study techniques that will help you pass

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 09, 2023

    Whether you’re coming back from a break from studying, advancing your career prospects, or kickstarting your accounting journey after full-time education, you will still find that studying can be very challenging.

    Everyone learns differently, and when preparing for an exam, you’ll likely feel stressed or nervous about the big day. This can lead to procrastination, mistakes, and fear that the content won’t sink in.

    We’ve put together a list of study techniques that might help you remember all of the content while studying for your exam. Let’s have a look at which ones may be best for you.

    The Pomodoro Technique

    Focusing for 25 minutes, taking a break for 5 minutes.

    The Pomodoro Technique gets its name after a tomato-shaped timer was used to test the method for the first time. This is a great way to maximise your study time while getting the most out of it. For this, you will be encouraged to break up your studying into more manageable chunks by using timed intervals.

    During a 25-minute study period, focus on one task without interruption or a break. Afterwards, reward yourself with a five-minute break before returning to studying again. This will make the most daunting topics become more approachable and can make a real difference when it comes to efficiency and productivity.

    Spaced repetition method

    Studying content repeatedly over time.

    If you need to learn new things quickly, the spaced repetition method may work well for you. This is a great technique for memorising and retaining information.

    To follow this technique, you will need to study the same material repetitively at increasing intervals of time. So, you’ll take a look at something during your first study session and then review it again a few days later. With each re-exposure, you’ll imprint the information deeper into your memory.

    This is a useful way to get additional studying done without breaking away from other study techniques such as the Pomodoro. As you use spaced repetition more and more, let it empower you to remember things quicker.


    Highlighting and underlining key points.

    Taking notes is probably the most common method of studying. It helps to write notes during lectures or reading material when learning a topic for the first time. You can then try to study your notes by highlighting and underlining keywords and points. Highlighting your notes can help to keep information organised in your mind, which ultimately makes it easier to remember when revising for exams.

    However, there are some cons to this method. For example, if you write notes quickly, they can get a bit messy, making them hard to read and understand. Note-form content is also usually a lot shorter than what you’ll find in the textbook or through video content, and you’ll also need to find the balance between highlighting and summarising content with keywords.

    If highlighting and underlining keywords is helpful for you, a good way to ensure that you’re taking in detailed content while highlighting and understanding is by using content-specific resources. For example, e-books and printed materials that you can find online through Kaplan Publishing are great for learning relevant information while making notes.


    Using rhymes and phrases.

    Memorisation can be tricky, but there's an easy way to make it easier: mnemonics.

    Mnemonics involve using simple phrases, rhymes, visual images, and keywords to create memorable connections. For example, if you needed to memorise the colours of a rainbow, you can link them with phrases like "Richard of York gave battle in vain" (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). Using mnemonics makes mastering difficult material much simpler.

    One mnemonic that you may find helpful, particularly for ACCA indicators of threats in units focusing on ethics, is ‘FULL STOP.’

    FULL STOP for ethics - indicators of threats

    Friends and family

    Undue fee dependence

    Loans to/from


    Shares in client

    Taking gifts and hospitality

    Overdue fees

    Provision to the other services


    Testing yourself by remembering facts, definitions, and keywords.

    Making flashcards is a great tool for revising for an exam. They can help you memorise and retain information and are also great to pair with the spaced repetition method.

    You can create flashcards by writing phrases, facts, definitions, or other information on one side of a card, and a key word on the other. When reading the keyword, test yourself by trying to remember the facts on the other side. This is a common and effective way of remembering content for an exam.

    If you don’t have much time or would prefer not to write your own flashcards, we have plenty of options available for specific courses through Kaplan Publishing. For example, our AAT Principles of Bookkeeping (POBC) Pocket Notes provides a pocket-sized overview of the content that you’ll find in the exam kits and study texts.

    For more information read Kaplan’s Head of Learning, Stuart Pedley-Smith, blog about the use of flashcards and the best ways you can use them to study.

    The elimination method

    Eliminate any unhelpful techniques.

    When you’re starting your studying or revision, it can feel like there’s an overwhelming amount of information in front of you. Usually, it’s the amount of content that leads to stress when studying, so the elimination method can help to calm those nerves.

    This elimination method helps you sort through the different available techniques and determine which ones are the most effective for you. Write down every strategy and technique, then eliminate them one by one until only the most successful methods for your study goals remain. For example, if you’re looking for a way to stay focused, you may consider the Pomodoro Technique. Whereas if you need to remember processes and rules, the mnemonic technique may be your priority.

    Ultimately this method can help you make the right decisions when it comes to studying so that staying focused and productive doesn't feel like mission impossible.

    Ready to get started?

    Have a look through our range of courses that will help you advance your career, and get into your studies. And if you need more study tips, have a look at our blog for more help and advice.

    Ready to book your exam?


  • ICAEW members: Reaching out for help when needed

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 25, 2023

    In this episode of our Learn Better Podcast, host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan, discusses how to cope with life’s challenges and how to ask for help.

    Our guest is Gareth Winters, Relationship Development Officer for CABA (Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association), the independent occupational charity for the ICAEW community. In his role, Gareth gets to talk to a whole variety of different people, at different stages in their lives and careers, but what makes his observations interesting is that they all work in the world of finance and are seeking help in some way to get them and their lives back on track.

    Key topics

    What is CABA?

    Gareth and Stuart discuss what CABA is, and what they do. CABA was originally set up by a Chartered Accountant to support other Chartered Accountants with financial assistance. However, as the business has developed over time, while financial assistance is still at the core, they have additional elements which focus on mental health, physical health, financial well-being, career advice, and legal advice, for example. The overall purpose is to support and help ICAEW members thrive both personally and professionally.

    Gareth’s career journey

    Gareth was originally an actor and discusses how communication is the strong link between acting and his current role at CABA. Aside from his career journey, they discuss what Gareth does on a day-to-day basis. This includes meeting people from firms, businesses or sole traders, or speaking with teams within ICAEW to ensure that they are aware of exactly what CABA do and what support is available, as having access to CABA is one of the benefits of being an ICAEW member.

    Speech marks

    “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

    The purpose of CABA

    Within the financial and accounting profession, asking for support can be one of the biggest barriers. While many people in the industry will need to show strength, with examples such as providing data-driven advice and solutions to clients, they feel like they can’t be seen as weak.

    However, Gareth highlights that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. The courage that it can take to say the words: “Can you help me,” can be extremely difficult, and rather than suffering in silence, it’s important to start that conversation.

    Speech marks

    “If you take your car into the garage, you’ll take it before it breaks down. Counselling is about managing yourself better, rather than leaving it to a crisis point.”

    Examples of support

    Gareth tells an anecdote about a previous individual that CABA has helped, whose life changed suddenly as a family member was admitted into hospital and he had to take care of two children. The financial pressures and time pressures led to negative consequences, such as failing an exam and temporarily splitting from his wife. However, after this, the individual reached out, which led to a much more positive outcome.

    However, the lesson from this is that it’s important to open up and start the conversation by asking for help, as the story could have been very different if the individual was more open to showing vulnerability.

    CABA consultants

    CABA have specialised trainers for different areas such as mental health, healthy eating habits, and moods, for example. They will draw upon those depending on the training sessions or individual situations.

    Support officers in CABA will make independent referrals depending on the needs, and this can be different depending on the person and it’s not all black and white. There can be so many different areas that feed into one emotion or challenge that they aim to address all aspects.

    Perception of accountants

    Stuart and Gareth discuss Gareth’s perception of accountants before and after joining CABA. Gareth saw accountants as very driven, highly intellectual and financially wealthy. However, after three years at CABA, he’s found that not all accountants are financially wealthy, and just because they are skilled in this area doesn’t mean that they are immune to life’s challenges and they may still find themselves in financial hardships and worries.

    He expands on through the mention of a recent survey which was conducted that found that accountants are also hit by the global cost of living crisis, and there are different levels to what an accountant could be earning, from apprentices and learners to fully qualified.

    Gareth highlights how “accountants are human,” while the top four areas that people ask for advice on are emotional well-being and support, legal advice, career advice, and financial assistance.

    How to ask for support

    If you are an ICAEW member, you can call CABA where someone will talk to you on the phone and understand what your challenges are. You may find support in the blog articles, webinars, and resources available on the website, but other cases can be helped with professional or personal coaching.

    Generally, you would have around five sessions with the counsellor or coach, where you’ll work towards a strategy on how to get to where you want to go. Gareth mentions that even if you are coming to CABA for counselling, they would still recommend that you also contact your registered GP for support.

    Waiting lists

    If you contact the telephone helpline, someone would likely speak to you on the phone straight away. However, this will only take you so far. Therefore, if you are referred to an external partner, you’ll generally be spoken to within a week. Comparing this to other waiting lists for mental health or support, there is a huge difference.

    For non-ICAEW members, the website, blog articles, and e-learning resources are also available for free.

    Listen to the full episode

    To hear the full conversation between Gareth Winters and Stuart Pedley-Smith, head over to our Learn Better podcast now.

    Listen to our podcast

    Kaplan’s Learn Better Podcast

  • A story about Live Online learning: How to get better results

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 18, 2023

    “Do I need to attend live online ‘live,’ or can I just watch the recording?” an inquisitive learner asked.

    “That depends,” said the wise teacher “what do you want to achieve?"

    “That’s easy,” says the learner, “I want to learn enough to succeed in my exams and apprenticeship."

    “Ah, I see,” said the wise teacher, “so all I need to do is advise as to which is the most effective way to learn?”

    To learn, you first need to give your attention. Think of it as a beam of light that can only shine on one object at a time. And then you should fully engage. This is the degree to which you are actively involved, interested, and invested. These are the prerequisites of learning and are essential if you are to do it well. The truth is you can be attentive and engaged attending a live online class or watching the recording, but they require significantly different amounts of motivation and effort. And, as you might imagine, watching a recording rather than attending live requires far more of both.

    Watching the recording can also result in the worst of both worlds. Firstly, a live delivery is designed with engagement in mind as you will be encouraged to contribute and think. This might be in the form of answering a chat panel question, entering a break out room or giving an opinion in a poll. These will not be engaging activities when watched afterwards, and most people will probably just fast forward them.Yet, they are hugely valuable when it comes to learning. Secondly, live lectures are not meant to be watched after the event. You can’t search for specific sections or topics, you can’t ask questions, in fact you can do little more than go forward or back.

    If making life easier is not enough, research undertaken by Credé, Roch, and Kieszczynka in 2010 showed a strong link between attendance and exam success. In fact, they went on to say that class attendance was a better predictor of college grades than any other known predictor of academic performance. Although this research used data from attending classroom lectures rather than live online, many of the principles are the same. These results are borne out by our own data. For example, learners studying AAT are 11% more likely to pass their exam if they attend live.

    And if you weren’t already aware, the minimum percentage of live attendance you need to have at Kaplan is 90%. Sometimes there are good reasons why you can’t be there live, such as illness, which is why we provide recordings after the live session to enable you to catch up.

    Watching the recording after attending live can also be helpful in reinforcing what you have learned, or just confirming something by way of fact checking. But if you are looking for the most effective way of learning, the wise teacher would always advise you to attend live because it’s not only easier and more engaging, it can contribute to your exam and apprenticeship success.

    Interested in learning online?

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  • How to obtain the skills marks in the ICAEW BPT exam

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 17, 2023

    Academic Support tutor, Hywel Smith, has provided some tips and guidance on how to pass your ICAEW BPT exam and gain those important skills marks.

    The two tax papers for the ICAEW Professional level are very different. Whereas the Tax Compliance (TC) exam is mainly computational and focuses on technical knowledge, in the Business Planning: Taxation (BPT) exam, less than half of the marks are available for technical knowledge and up to 75% of the marks are available for technical “skills.”

    So, what are some of these key technical skills and how do we earn the marks available for them? The ICAEW break them down into four different areas, although there is some overlap with some of the skills falling into more than one area.

    Assimilating and using information

    Skills under this heading include:

    Spotting key issues and risks. The BPT exam has been described as being about ‘spotting elephants and not mice,’ i.e. avoiding getting too bogged down in detailed calculations or minor issues and focusing on the issues which can potentially have a significant impact on tax liabilities and responsibilities of the client.

    Following instructions. We need to make sure we are clear on who we are advising and use the information to do that. For example, if a company is being sold, is our client the buyer or the seller? There will be skill marks for sticking to the brief and avoiding making points that may be relevant to another party but not our client.

    Identifying missing information and where further information is required. To replicate real-life scenarios you are often deliberately given incomplete information in the exam. Skills marks can be gained by spotting where this is the case, making sensible assumptions (see below) and stating that we need to check or get further information.

    Structuring problems and solutions

    Skills under this heading include:

    Considering the Interaction of different taxes. Whilst in the TC exam different taxes are normally looked at in isolation, in the BPT exam we are usually considering the impact of a transaction on a range of taxes at the same time.

    For example, if someone is thinking of giving away assets, there will be potential IHT and CGT implications. And whereas the advice might be different if we look at either tax in isolation, we need to consider both taxes and look at the overall picture.

    Considering the impact of delaying or modifying future decisions. For example, considering whether a transfer should be made via a lifetime gift or waiting until death, or considering the timing of the appointment of a liquidator in conjunction with the winding up of a company.

    Applying judgement

    Skills under this heading include:

    Showing scepticism towards the information in the question. We shouldn’t automatically assume that the information that we have been given is completely accurate. There are sometimes red flags in the question that the source of the information is not reliable, especially with regard to the ethics parts of the question. Picking up on this and stating that we should double-check some of the information will pick us up skills marks

    Making sensible assumptions. In general, and following on from the points above about missing and questionable information, we will pick up skill marks for using sensible assumptions.

    For example:

    • The taxpayer has/has not used their annual exemptions (CGT &/or IHT), nil rate band, BADR lifetime limit etc.
    • Our client has no other income
    • Tax rates will stay at similar levels in the future.

    Time management. The BPT exam is a very time-pressured paper with lots of information to digest. The total marks for a question are not broken down for each sub-question requirement, leaving learners often unsure of how much time to spend on each part. Skills marks are available for applying judgement to determine this by using the amount of information provided for each requirement as a guide to the weighting of the marks available. You should use short punchy sentences to get your points down as succinctly as possible, and you should avoid getting bogged down in calculations or in one area, accepting that there may not be enough time to cover every single issue raised in the scenario.

    Concluding, recommending and communicating

    Skills marks under this heading include:

    Making recommendations and drawing conclusions. In the BPT exam, we are giving advice, so there will be skills marks for making recommendations and drawing conclusions based on the work that we have done, even if what we have done is incorrect or contains some errors.

    There are also marks available for explaining the limitations of conclusions or recommendations (e.g. due to incomplete information, there is future uncertainty over tax rates), and presenting a justification for a specific recommended action (e.g. better for cash flow).

    Being specific to the scenario. Skills marks are earned for being specific to the scenario and referring to the precise circumstances of the client given rather than talking in general terms.

    So, in conclusion, if you can try and get as much of the above into your answer as possible then you should be able to pick up lots of these crucial skills marks and be well on your way to passing the BPT exam.

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  • The importance of data in finance

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 14, 2023

    Data is used everywhere you go. It’s difficult to comprehend how important gaining data skills and capabilities are in the workplace and general life, due to the rapid pace that data and technology are advancing.

    If you work in a finance role, you may already believe that you are interpreting data. However, it’s very likely that, without further training, your data literacy capabilities are limited. This limited knowledge could be hindering your job or organisation’s performance, without you even realising it.

    Recently, we joined a collaborative webinar with the ICAEW to showcase the importance of data. We were joined by experts in the field, Ian Pay (ICAEW) and Jim Hinchliffe (Kaplan UK) who provided key insights into the working world of data analytics.

    Event panellists

    Ian Pay

    Ian joined the ICAEW as Head of Data Analytics and Tech in March 2022, looking at the role that analytics and technology solutions play in the profession while supporting the ICAEW’s members in their exploration and development of knowledge around technology.

    Prior to this, Ian worked at PwC in Data Analytics for over ten years, specialising in External Audit and Data Acquisition and developing robust data transformation processes. He is passionate about digital upskilling and has previously trained as a secondary school teacher.

    Jim Hinchliffe

    Over the past twenty years, Jim has held various senior positions at Kaplan, including Head of Live Online and Head of Centre. Since 2017, Jim has been part of the Commercial Management team, a Strategic Account Director, and a member of the Kaplan Professional Senior Leadership Team.

    As Commercial Manager, Jim takes a keen interest in identifying opportunities within the accountancy market, notably the demand for digital skills from employers.

    Speech marks

    “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

    Key topics

    The importance of data

    Data is central to everything. There are very few aspects of a business where data isn’t needed.

    Ian touches upon a few examples of how data is used within specific departments of a business, to showcase how important the use of data is. He explains how upskilling the workforce with data skills has proven to help with testing and accuracy, identifying trends, and measuring successes and failures of projects, just to name a few.

    The need for data skills

    Why do we need data skills? Ian answers this by showing the importance of investing in data, through the use of data itself.

    Facts and figures identify how data is fundamentally changing businesses and the way in which people now work. With over 80% of CEOs investing in data, it is shown to improve efficiency and decision-making in the workplace, while data-driven organisations are suggested to be 162% more likely to improve their revenue goals.

    However, developing your data skills doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert. Yet, the softer skills surrounding data are just as important, which are to be able to understand, interpret and communicate data.

    Working with data as a finance professional

    Ian discusses how to make the most out of your data, particularly in the accounting and finance industry. Many of those working in finance may regularly use data within their job role. In fact, it would be quite worrying if you’re not already using this in some way.

    However, teams may spend the majority of their time gathering and analysing data, but with limited capabilities. This means that there is little time dedicated to actually interpreting and acting on the data that you’re gathering. So, although you may think that you are data literate, there may be a lot more training and development that can be done.

    Ian addresses the changing landscape of finance roles. Adding an interesting perspective on this landscape, Ian uses the World Economic Forum report, to explore roles that are increasing and decreasing in demand. Roles that are paired with the use and knowledge of data were found to increase significantly.

    In a nutshell, the statistics that Ian provides give evidence that the finance sector is still a great and thriving area to work in, as the skills that you hold are a key indicator of the demand for certain jobs. However, the development of data analytics skills is essential to stay relevant in the ever-changing world of technology.

    The ICAEW Data Analytics certification

    Jim highlights how you can upskill your workplace, or yourself, specifically with two different pathways. Although the pathways are tailored towards a finance perspective, the certifications are broad enough to have relevance across all industries.

    During the webinar, Jim and Ian talk more in-depth about what to expect from each pathway, the course and what you can expect.

    Pathway 1: Analyst

    This is for anyone wanting to develop their data analytic skills. Through this, you’ll develop your practical knowledge of the programming language, Python, where the skills and capabilities developed are extremely transferable, yet Python is a free platform that can still be used after your training.

    Jim mentions that through our research, we found that there are very few detailed training courses that can be applied to finance professionals specifically. Therefore, the analyst pathway provides 60 hours worth of comprehensive content for those who want to develop their skills, and apply them with the highest level of confidence.


    Pathway 2: Management

    The management pathway is shorter than the analyst, as it’s targeted towards senior management teams within an organisation. Therefore, more technical skills are not usually necessary in this case.

    Jim and Ian highlight how the management pathway will guide managers in understanding how to set objectives, understand the process of data in the business, and manage a team of technically skilled analysts.

    Demo of the certificate courses

    Jim and Ian demonstrate the course platform, providing examples of real-life case studies, the design of the course, and what this will look like. He also highlights the reasons why you would need Python in your organisation when you already have Excel, with resources that are provided on the course that explains the differences and how to bridge this knowledge gap.

    Watch the full webinar

    Watch the full webinar with Ian and Jim now and learn all about the importance of Data Analytics and the necessity of upskilling to remain future-proof in your workplace.

    Ready to upskill?

    The two pathways mentioned in the webinar are available on our website. You can find more information about the Analyst Pathway, and the Management Pathway to make an informed decision on which route is best for you.

    Use the discount code: DA2022 for a 20% discount on all ICAEW Data Analytics Certificate Programmes on Kaplan UK and Kaplan Learning until 28 April 2023.

    Upskill in Data Analytics today

    Find out more

  • How to gain the highest marks in the world: Katherine Ellis’ story of studying ACA

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 10, 2023

    We recently caught up with Katherine Ellis after she won the ICAEW Annual International Orders of Merit award with first place and the Plender prize.

    At the end of 2022, Katherine completed her full ACA qualification with Kaplan. She’s now looking forward to completing her full training by September 2023, and the bright career ahead of her. However, alongside an exciting future, Katherine found out that she won first place and the Plender prize for the Professional level in December 2022 with ICAEW.

    Winning this award means that Katherine received the highest grade for the professional level. In a nutshell, she got the highest marks in the whole world. Impressive, right?

    We spoke to Katherine to gain insight into her experience when studying ACA with Kaplan, and to explore any tips or advice that she would give to aspiring learners and accountants.

    This is what she said…

    Starting a new career in accountancy

    I was good at maths in school, but I didn’t want to do just maths. So, I went on to study economics at university. During that time, I had a couple of accounting modules, so after graduating I looked into jobs in accounting and applied for an Audit role at PwC. I believe that if you have your ACA qualifications, then you have so many different options. It’s a way of opening a lot of doors.

    Challenges while studying during the pandemic

    I started my job role during COVID in September 2020. While training, the first year was fully online classrooms, and then from the second year, it was a mix of classroom and online. We started to go back into the classroom more as my studies went on and restrictions eased.

    Speech marks

    “When people ask how I’ve done so well, it’s just by keeping consistent.”

    Initially, when we were starting during COVID, that was quite tough. I think that studying online is very different to being in a classroom with a tutor. But I’m quite good at self-learning, so in the end, I quite enjoyed online learning.

    The most challenging part was the volume of content. There’s so much to take in, and covering it all to a sufficient level so that you can confidently answer a question on anything in the syllabus is probably the hardest thing.

    Studying ACA (ICAEW) with Kaplan

    I think I'd be lying if I said it’s not tough. You have to balance it with your workload. But honestly, when people ask how I’ve done so well, it’s just by keeping consistent. I think a lot of people go wrong when they try to do their work while letting their studies slide, or focus only on their studies and forget about their workload.

    So, it can get stressful and many people struggle to balance both. I studied two modules at a time for each sitting and would always focus on not letting it all take over.

    Kaplan materials and support

    I think that the question bank is honestly like your Bible. A lot of the questions are quite repetitive, or at least the structure or themes of them are. So, if you’ve done the question bank enough times, you’ll pick up an idea of the styles of questions that will be in the exam, so you can then make a plan of attack. So, the question bank is invaluable because it briefs you on what’s coming.

    I liked how my Talent Coach would frequently check in to make sure that everything was going well and that you were not too stressed. It was always a good touch point to see where I was with things, and if I had any concerns then it was nice to know that there were people there to reach out to. Sometimes I think it’s easy to think that you’re a little cog in a very big system, so it’s nice to know that you can ask for support if you have any problems.

    David Richards was always an excellent tutor. He would always make sure that everyone understood what was discussed. I had a lot of great tutors over time, but David did stand out.

    Differences between university and ACA studies

    There were topics that I had some level of initial knowledge on. However, at university, we mainly covered just the basics of accounting. So I did have some prior knowledge during a few modules, but many topics were completely new to me, like tax or law.

    The ICAEW was very different compared to my time at university. I was never in a position at university where I would be completing questions back to back, so it was a different style. But I did do a similar amount of studying to what I did at university, and the difficulty level was very similar, so I didn’t find the transition too difficult. I do think that if I came from an unrelated subject to accountancy then it would be much harder.

    The highest marks in the world

    I won two papers in 2021, and now I’ve won for the whole professional level. There were a few prizes in my workplace too during my studies. But, honestly, with this one, it was just a huge shock.

    I did well in school and university, and I think I’ve always been quite good in exams, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. I’m good at learning content and applying it in an exam setting, and being quite good at maths helped me pick up some of the content quite quickly. In my mock exams, I was getting good grades, so I went into the exams thinking that I’d pass, but you would think that there are people out there getting 100% in exams, and that would never be me.

    I wasn’t expecting to do this well, and I would have been more than happy with a passing mark. So, I couldn’t believe it, I was genuinely beyond shocked.

    Advice for future learners

    I was always someone who would come into class after at least trying to have an idea of what was coming for me. If there are any pre-module resources, I’ll always look over that stuff before starting the teaching.

    I’m also not someone who leaves it until the last minute. I would keep everything ticking over, whereas I think a lot of people might have a break between the class and the exam as they think it’s far away, but that can allow it to take over.

    I’d also say that if you’re studying ACA, you need to attempt the full question bank at least once because that means that you’ve seen everything that can come your way. It depends on what you’re aiming for, but if you’re anything like me then you need to try and do all the extra bits of studying and use all of the materials.

    Katherine’s future in accounting

    I've just been offered a new job role within PwC, so I’ll be moving from auditing to doing financial due diligence. My training has put me very well placed for the interview process. For example, if you’ve been studying for almost three years, they will expect you to have a level of knowledge to answer any technical questions.

    So, I was able to go into the interview confident that I could answer questions because, at Kaplan, they make sure you know your stuff, which is really valuable. I also think that if you’re going for a job role with strong exam marks, while being able to confidently talk about the knowledge, then you’re going to appear as a much stronger candidate.

    Speech marks

    “At Kaplan, they make sure you know your stuff.”

    The training is going to help me because financial due diligence is something that we covered in our syllabus in quite a few exams. So, when applying for the job, it was beneficial that I knew exactly what I was applying for.

    In terms of soft skills, I do also value that I am now able to process a lot of information and then apply it effectively. This will help me understand what I’m doing in my new job role so I won’t feel like I’ve been thrown into the deep end.

    Is there anything that you'd like to add?

    One thing that I would emphasise is that if you put the time and effort into it, then you will be able to do it. It’s genuinely just a case of practice. I think the reason that I did so well is that I spent a lot of time on my studies. I might have put in more hours than the average learner but the key is to just keep practising.

    Speech marks

    “If you put the time and effort into it, then you will be able to do it.”

    Also, try to make the most of your time. If you attempt a mock exam, treat it like the real one. If you’re in a classroom course, you might be in a room with all of your friends or colleagues that are in the same position. So, use that dedicated time to understand the content together. You have a lot to learn from your peers, alongside the tutor.

    Speech marks

    "Katherine Ellis achieved the highest average mark of students completing the Professional Level exams in 2022 without failing any examinations, and was awarded the Plender prize."

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  • What ACCA Strategic Professional modules should I choose?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 28, 2023

    When you get to the Strategic Professional level of ACCA, you can choose the subjects that appeal to you most, but which ones should you choose? Keep on reading for information and advice that might help you decide.

    What modules can I choose from?

    At Strategic Professional you have to do two compulsory subjects:

    • Strategic Business Leader (SBL)
    • Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)

    You also have to pick two of the following:

    • Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
    • Advanced Performance Management (APM)
    • Advanced Taxation (ATX)
    • Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)

    These are specialised exams, covering in depth articular areas of professional accountancy.

    You also have to complete the Ethics and Professional Skills Module, ideally before you start any other subject, as it’s been proven to show that those who do ESPM first have a higher chance of passing their other Strategic Professional exams.

    So which one should I choose?

    Research shows that you’re more likely to pass a particular Strategic Professional exam if you did well in the related subject from your Applied Skills exams*. The Strategic Professional Exams take the subjects from Applied Skills to a more advanced level.

    • Financial Management goes on to Advanced Financial Management
    • Performance Management goes on to Advanced Performance Management
    • Taxation goes on to Advanced Taxation
    • Audit and Assurance goes on to Advanced Audit and Assurance

    Advanced Performance Management (APM)

    This subject builds on topics covered in Performance and Financial Management in Applied Skills. It partly overlaps with topics in Strategic Business Leader as well. You’ll do well in this exam if you’re good at exercising professional judgement when selecting and applying strategic management accounting techniques in different business contexts. The exam requires a mix of written analysis and calculations.

    Example job roles that benefit from choosing APM: Management accounting, Financial business partner, business consultant, working within a finance team in a business in industry.

    Advanced Tax (ATX)

    Simply put, this is tax but at an advanced level. Ideal for those who excelled at the Applied Skills Tax exam. You will need to have detailed knowledge of tax, and this will be rigorously tested. You’ll need to be completely familiar with the way tax calculations are carried out, and be able to interpret information that’s given to you in a different format. You’ll need to be able to do calculations, explain what has happened, explain relationships, and give appropriate advice. However, in practice, TX (UK) is weighted towards numerical calculations, whereas ATX (UK) is weighted towards narrative explanations.

    Example job roles that benefit from choosing ATX: Tax manager, tax director, auditor, working in accountancy practice.

    Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)

    You’ll need to have built a solid knowledge from both the AAA subject and SBR to consider doing this subject. It is essential that you complete the SBR exam before the AAA as it will provide complimentary background knowledge for the exam. It is based on practical scenarios and deals with real-life challenges that an audit manager might face. You will be asked questions that incorporate high level SBR knowledge, risks, and how to use an audit approach to mitigate risks. You’ll need to be able to show that you can think practically and demonstrate scepticism in your interpretation.

    Example job roles that benefit from choosing AAA: Auditor, external auditor working in accountancy practice.

    Advanced Financial Management (AFM)

    Building on knowledge from Applied Skills Financial Management (FM), you’ll need strong maths skills and a high level of technical knowledge and techniques. You’ll have to understand and explain the professional judgement expected of a senior financial executive or advisor, in recommending decisions relating to the financial management of an organisation in private and public sectors.

    Example job roles that benefit from choosing AFM: Corporate finance, banking, chief financial officer, treasury.

    Things to consider when choosing your options

    Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to decide which one to choose:

    • What experience do you already have?
    • How did you do in your Applied Skills exams?
    • What topics actually interest you?
    • Which subject suits the work you do now?
    • Which subject will advance the work you do, and potentially open new career avenues?

    Which two go best together?

    It’s a tricky question to answer, but here are the best combinations.

    ATX and AAA. These two options pair well for anyone working in practice and wanting to progress in this career path.

    AAA and AFM. This is a great pairing for those who are thinking about becoming a Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

    AAA and APM. For someone who is focused on leading a large internal finance team, which also has an internal audit department, AAA and APM are great options.

    Need more information?

    Hopefully this blog has given you some helpful information to assist you in your decisions, but if you would like more advice, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. You can also check out our ACCA Strategic Professional page for more information, to buy your course, and book exams.


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  • Kathy Walton reveals how to become a CEO, her family life and background

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 01, 2023

    The second episode of our new YouTube series, Career Goals, is now available to watch, and it features a very special guest - Kaplan UK CEO, Kathy Walton.

    In this episode of Career Goals, host Kelsey Haslam and Kathy Walton discuss all about Kathy’s career history and background so far, including how she got to her current position as Kaplan UK CEO.

    This engaging, quick-witted, and eye-opening episode emphasises that nothing is impossible to reach when working towards your career aspirations, and even people in highly commended job roles can still be just ordinary people from humble backgrounds.

    Key topics discussed


    Kathy talks about her role as a CEO, what this entails and how she worked her way up to this job role.

    She highlights how she started as a student striving to be a tutor at Kaplan but was soon taking on plenty more responsibilities before naturally progressing to become the CEO of Kaplan Financial UK.

    Kathy also reflects back to her roots. She was raised in Bolton and a big football fan, and references this in more detail to showcase how this passion helped her to get to where she is today.

    Never have I ever

    We get to know more about Kathy, her experience and general views while playing a game of Never have I ever. The truth comes out and we find that even the CEO of Kaplan UK hasn’t always been perfect in job interviews!

    Digital stories

    Kelsey asks Kathy to think of a number that’s significant to her. The conversation that follows helps us understand a lot more about Kathy’s personality, her background and how just one number can help shape someone’s views, lifestyle, or career.

    Industry myths

    Kelsey reads out a variety of statements that can be considered ‘myth’ or ‘fact’ to find out Kathy’s views.

    The discussion that follows reveals Kathy’s views on subjects such as economics, whether university is essential to become a CEO, and the characteristics that make a successful CEO.

    Final thoughts

    Kathy answers the closing question: what does ‘career goals’ mean to you?

    Watch the full episode

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    Start your career journey

    Like everyone, Kathy had to start from somewhere. If you’re looking to go into the accounting and finance industry, have a look through our professional qualifications.

    Alternatively, if you believe an apprenticeship is the best route for you, you can browse through our vacancies or read more about how to talk to your employer about starting an apprenticeship.

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