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  • How to become an accounts assistant

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 24, 2020

    Want to move into accountancy, but don’t have much experience or any formal qualifications? An accounts assistant role could be for you.

    Junior accountancy professionals are always in high demand at finance companies, and accountants are generally some of the most sought-after professionals on the market*. So launching your career as an accounts assistant is a great place to start.

    Important, accessible, and always in demand. Here’s an overview of the role and how to move into it.

    What does an accounts assistant do?

    Within this role you’d essentially be supporting accountants with admin, carrying out a range of accountancy based tasks. You’ll be helping to: create and maintain financial records, process tax returns, prepare company accounts, invoicing, filing and many other tasks.

    Here’s a list of other duties you may carry out:

    • Preparing reports
    • Processing company expenses
    • Payroll
    • Credit control and debt chasing
    • Purchase ledgers
    • Filling out purchase orders
    • Managing petty cash
    • Answering the telephone

    Why choose this career path?

    If you are just entering the world of work after school or college, or are embarking on a career change, this can be a great entry into the stable and rewarding career of accountancy.

    Given the relevance of this profession to all industries, accounts assistants can find work in almost any sector, so your options are vast.

    Although you may be content to remain as an accounts assistants, there are many opportunities to progress beyond this role. Many employers offer their employees the chance to develop by investing in further qualifications such as AAT, CIMA or ACCA while on the job, or might want them to specialise in a particular area of accountancy.

    What qualifications do I need?

    What makes this role so accessible is that you do not require a degree or any specialist qualification to start. With many companies you will simply be trained on the job.

    Having some form of relevant qualification, or experience will give you an advantage, however, but as long as you have some A-C/4-9 GCSE’s (usually including maths) you could have a good chance.

    If you feel you’d want to go into this role with some background qualification then you may want to consider:

    What skills do I need?

    Accounts assistants are required to think logically and have a good grasp of numbers. But the softer skills that may help are:

    • Good verbal and written communication skills
    • Excellent attention to detail
    • Computer literacy
    • Good administrative skills
    • The ability to work independently or part of a team
    • The ability to work to deadline
    • Good with managing workload

    What could I earn?

    There are many factors that can affect the salary of an accounts assistant such as: the size of the company, the location, and your experience. However, accounts assistants salaries averagely range from 18-28k per annum.**

    Average UK Accounts Assistant salary in the UK, by area:

    • London: £30,240
    • Manchester: £23,000
    • Wales: £16,380
    • Scotland: £19,320
    • East of England: £19,740
    • Yorkshire and the Humber: £17,640

    Interested?

    If this role is for you, then please look at our AAT courses page for more information on Bookkeeping and accountancy foundation qualifications.

    Sources: *https://www.roberthalf.co.uk/salary-guide/accounting-finance/accounts-assistant-salaries
    **https://www.roberthalf.co.uk/salary-guide/accounting-finance/accounts-assistant-salaries
    Other source: https://www.totaljobs.com/salary-checker/average-accounts-assistant-salary-manchester#:~:text=The%20average%20salary%20for%20Accounts%20Assistant%20jobs%20in%20Manchester%20is%20%C2%A323%2C000.

  • 4 reasons why creatives would enjoy a career in accountancy

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 24, 2020

    Working as an accountant may not seem like an appropriate option for an artistic person, but when you look closer there are many opportunities to transfer creative skills to this profession.

    So if you’re looking for a secure career that offers progression and a good salary, but also satisfies your desire for creativity, then accountancy could be the answer.

    We break down why.

    Problem solving

    When it comes to accounting, sometimes you need to think differently when faced with numbers and data. There might be something that looks out of place, or doesn’t quite match up with previous figures. Or there might be a more efficient way to reduce expenses, risk, or waste.

    Sometimes you need to be able to step back and look at the whole picture. You won’t get bogged down in one or two figures. Often it will be more about comprehending the context around the issue, so that you can then find a solution.

    When we look beyond the numbers, we are essentially dealing with concepts that relate to people, and problems - that need to be solved.

    Communication

    Artists and creatives tend to have really good communication skills, and have the ability to explain ideas clearly and in an engaging way.

    From reports to complex ideas, in accountancy you’ll be able to get your message across efficient and in a compelling way.

    You may be responsible for illustrating a company’s, or client’s, financial position or income forecast. You may also be part of a small/large accounts team where communication is paramount.

    Look beyond the stereotype of the stuffy accountant in a room on their own. This profession is largely sociable and regularly relies on an exchange of ideas.

    Attention to detail

    Many artists or creatives can relate to the idea of making their work as perfect as possible in order to get close to their vision.

    This can relate to work in accounting where you must be precise with numbers and calculations. Whether it’s tax returns, income statements or cash flow reports.

    Every penny counts, and there’s a collective vision you may be working towards.

    Opportunity for travel

    Many creatives tend to be on the extrovert side of the social spectrum, which is why we mention the travel opportunities.

    As an auditor, management accountant or chartered accountant, for instance, you may be expected to visit different locations for meetings or for different projects - particularly if you are self employed.

    Also with courses such as AAT, CIMA or ACCA you would be holding an internationally recognised qualification which would open doors for you in any sector, and in many countries across the world.

    This would obviously create opportunities to embrace new cultures and meet lots of new people.

    Tempted by accounting?

    We hope to have helped you overcome some preconceptions about accounting, and reassured you that there is scope for creative ‘types’.

    Have a look at our AAT pages for more information. AAT is the starting point for anyone who hasn’t got any experience in accounting - you don’t need any prior experience or qualifications, but it might just open up a whole new career path for you.

  • Building for the future, with new apprenticeships and short courses

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 17, 2020

    After 4 months of dealing with COVID, and the challenges it has created for our organisation, clients and industry, we have started thinking about the future.

    We all need some positivity in our lives, after all, 2020 has just been cancelled. So I’ve naturally had to postpone all the things I look forward to at the start of the year: summer holidays, birthday parties and spending time in the beer garden!

    Right, back to positivity!

    I am, however, fortunate to work with an insightful leadership team that recognised our need to enhance our internal skills so that we can deliver for our clients’ needs, across the entire digital learning space.

    Our new Digital Learning expert

    As part of this wider digital learning strategy, we recently recruited Jason Moss. Jason is a highly experienced Digital Learning expert, having a strong track record of designing and delivering digital courses.

    When I originally trained to be an accountant we did everything with a pencil and ETB paper, but now everyone was talking about Xero and the automation of transactions.

    Today I feel almost nervous when I speak to clients, given my lack of familiarity with the digital space.

    Fortunately Jason has been able to highlight a few stats that really highlight the need for me, employers, and society in general to get on board with upskilling with digital skills:

    • 33% of companies in the UK believe they lack Cybersecurity and Cloud-based Infrastructure skills within their business
    • 27% of companies in the UK believe they lack Data Management/Analytics skills within their business
    • Over 88% of companies identified a gap in digital skills already or in the future impacting on profitability, competitiveness, agility and productivity

    Our response to the data

    For the last few months, Jason has been talking to a range of businesses to identify the most critical skills and behaviours they need to plug the gaps. From his research, Data Analytics and Business Analytics were the skills businesses were overwhelmingly needing.

    In response to this, Jason and his team created the following apprenticeship programmes to launch in January 2021:

    • Level 3 Data Technician (24 month programme)
    • Level 4 Data Analyst (24 month programme)
    • Level 4 Business Analyst (18 month programme)

    There is a strong theme around data with these apprenticeships, but later in 2021 we will be launching further apprenticeships around Cloud Infrastructure, Cybersecurity and Software Development.

    Personally, I am super excited to talk to clients about these amazing new apprenticeships, without ever losing sight of the ongoing importance of our core Accountancy and Tax apprentice.

    New Tech short course

    Kaplan has also created a number of short courses, one in particular called New Technologies for Businesses. With around 40 hours of learning, it will give your Accountancy and Tax employees the perfect introduction and insight into the digital space.

    I’m in the process of covering the course, starting from the beginning. I need to become more knowledgeable as I have recognised that I could also really benefit from bridging my skills gap.

    I recently spoke to a training partner that is keen on asking every single partner and senior manager in the organisation to complete the course as a basic upskilling requirement.

    Apprenticeships for your company

    Do you want to enrich your Accountancy and Tax apprenticeship with Kaplan? Or do you want your employees to undertake one of the digital apprenticeships we are launching with all the benefits of using your levy funds to obtain the benefits?

    We are now in a position to deliver this to your organisation and apprentices.

    With many endless possibilities to change your employees’ digital skills, is it time to have a conversation to create that proactive plan so your organisation can get ahead?

    Surju has worked at Kaplan for over 11 years, initially as a tutor and is now a Client Director. He specialises in helping accountancy firms deliver effective apprenticeship solutions to allow their workforce to grow and develop.

    If you feel a consultation would help you and your organisation, please feel free to contact him.

  • What to do after ACCA

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 17, 2020

    So you’ve completed, or nearly completed, your ACCA course and are looking to the future. What’s next?

    As you’re probably aware, ACCA is one of the most prestigious and recognised accountancy qualifications in the world. With it you can operate within 179 countries and can be earning 100k* and over, within 5 years of qualifying.

    But with so many possibilities, where do you start? To help give you an idea of what paths many follow, here are some ideas.

    The list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start.

    Work in industry

    Although the world has gone through a tumultuous time, and technology continues to evolve, the demand for accountancy and finance professionals remains high.

    You could work in near enough any industry, as long as the company is big enough to need accounting services. Be that, IT, Insurance, Sport, Business, Retail, Hospitality or any other. Your chosen profession is in demand.

    Within these sectors, here are some roles you could move into - once you decide where to specialise.

    Join an accounting firm

    Another popular option would be to join an accounting firm.

    Accounting firms help identify the best solutions for clients in all sorts of industries, so you get the benefit of using your skills across a broad range of businesses, giving great variety to your career. They often specialise in services such as: tax, management consulting, mergers and acquisitions and forensic accounting. It can be varied and high-pressured, but it’s a rewarding career.

    Continue studying

    ACCA opens many doors for you even in terms of further education. It’s a great foundation for many advanced specialisms within professional services. Here are a couple of options.

    MBA (Master of Business Administration) - One common option is to go for an MBA Post Graduation degree. MBAs offer an overview of key business practices and are highly valued by top employers. It’s normally expected that you would follow this path after at least a couple of years of practical experience, however.

    CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) - CFA is another popular post graduate course many study after completing ACCA, and it can definitely boost your finance career. This qualification is usually a requirement if you are looking to get a finance role with a large organisation (such as the ‘Big Four’).

    The CFA program is the gold standard in finance credentials, designed for aspirational and experienced finance professionals who want to take their career to the next level.

    Convert to Law

    Many who complete ACCA decide that they are attracted to the area of Law.

    The Law module in the ACCA qualification gives you a solid grounding in corporate and business law, so there are some crossovers, and this could account for why some seek to progress in this direction.

    However, if you want to practice law after becoming an ACCA member, you need to look into studying for a law degree.

    Start your Own Business

    For the budding entrepreneurs, an ACCA qualification can give you a good foundation to start your own business in the field of finance or accountancy.

    You could, for instance, start your own consulting company, work as a freelance accountant or as an Independent Financial Advisor to small and medium sized businesses. Don’t forget, there is also the chance to work overseas.

    Much opportunity for the ACCA qualified

    There are a whole range of options open to you once you’re qualified, but try not to be overwhelmed with the possibilities. Take your time and do what feels right.

    *https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/chartered-certified-accountant&sa=D&ust=1600246627140000&usg=AFQjCNG8CwfcuvQfsblp3ehjtPJbSZH85w

  • Giving back, in partnership with RefuAid

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 03, 2020

    We know that education can open doors to new opportunities, a better job and a better life. Throughout our 80-year history, we’ve been a leader in expanding educational access, and giving back is a key part of our culture.

    Recently, through our work with RefuAid, we’ve been helping to upskill and develop those who have experienced forced migration.

    As stated on their website, RefuAid are a charity who offer ‘a practical response’ to those in need, be that through providing access to: language tuition, education, finance or meaningful employment.

    We work with people. All people. Regardless of nationality, religion or political affiliation.

    - RefuAid

    They offer solutions to the challenges refugees face once they are given the opportunity to restart their life in the UK. This is reflected in their official stated values and concerns: ‘There are few initiatives successfully providing long-term solutions to forced migration, meaning those forced to flee end up dependent on aid and handouts’.

    RefuAid focus on 3 main areas: finance and re-qualification, language tuition and specialist employment advice.

    We started our association with RefuAid through the English language courses we offer at Kaplan International.

    Progressing to Kaplan Financial

    After the working relationship was established, Kaplan Financial started to get involved. A number of RefuAid clients/students were showing an interest in pursuing a career in accountancy, so it felt natural to offer them accountancy training.

    The courses offered to these students are complimentary, and we offer extra support through our learning coaches to help with structure and well-being.

    So far we have welcomed 2 RefuAid students into our accountancy programme. Despite coming from very challenging circumstances, they have responded fantastically.

    Their stories

    For the sake of anonymity, we will call this first student Sam.

    Sam came to the UK from Palestine, where he was a qualified solicitor. Due to circumstances beyond his control he had to leave and start life all over again.

    Given his previous qualifications, he was looking to continue as a solicitor. But he started to develop an interest in finance and accountancy after experiencing elements of it through his exposure to property tax.

    Because I’m a refugee in the UK it is like starting from scratch. RefuAid helped me learn English at first and then I reviewed the options that were available

    - Sam, RefuAid and Kaplan student.

    Now, well into his ACCA qualification, Sam is passing his exams with flying colours. He cruised through his Applied Knowledge level and is now studying Performance Management for the Applied Skills level. 

    He is now looking beyond his studies and dreams of potentially becoming a forensic accountant. This is quite some journey in such a short space of time.

    I didn’t think this would be possible. I couldn’t even imagine it. Kaplan has made me feel special.

    - Sam

    Jon’s story

    Originally from Russia, Jon is a determined character.

    Already part way through his AAT qualification when starting out with Kaplan, he wanted to study AAT Professional level and begin his ACCA qualification at the same time.

    Jon has gotten a lot out of his experience studying, thanks to RefuAid and Kaplan, and states that he ‘admire(s) Kaplan for the opportunity’ and expresses his fondness for OnDemand.

    I love using OnDemand, it’s the best study method for me. It’s flexible and I can study whenever I want.

    - Jon, Kaplan and RefuAid student.

    Like Sam, Jon’s study momentum has allowed him to look to the future positively. In 1-2 years he sees himself becoming an accountant and possibly moving into taxation.

    This is some turnaround given that he only moved to the UK in 2016.

    Learning Coaches

    Our learning coaches are there to meet the student demand for one-on-one coaching. They offer support and facilitate study progress.

    Both students are grateful for the learning coach they have worked with. This relationship has been essential for their progress.

    Their coach, Nidaa Qureshi, has seen their development since day 1, and is delighted with what she sees.

    They are both taking to it really well, they’re so strong willed. Their determination makes them so easy to work with.

    - Nidaa Qureshi, Learning Coach.

    Support

    There are countless other potential students, who could benefit from this kind of extra support. If your company is in a strong position to support RefuAid’s cause then do visit their site.

    These stories prove it’s possible to make a difference.

  • Zak’s ambition knows no bounds

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 27, 2020

    Zak Barwell is our recently award-winning AAT apprentice. Despite facing incredibly difficult circumstances, he progressed swiftly - receiving 95% in his End Point Assessment.

    Why did you choose the apprenticeship route, Zak?

    I wasn’t phased about going down a slightly different route into work.

    After consideration, I turned down a university offer as I felt the apprenticeship route could be more beneficial. All my friends were going off to uni, but I compared the two options and felt like this was a better route into the accountancy world.

    I felt that real world experience is really important and I like the idea of studying whilst learning. Maybe for other subjects uni is more appropriate, but an apprenticeship seemed right for me.

    Only for graduates

    At my company, however, they would usually hire graduates for roles like this, so I couldn’t apply. However I approached my boss and asked to do the competency test to get onto it.

    As the test was designed for graduates, and I wasn’t, I wasn’t expected to do well. And I was right, I didn’t. But by showing an eagerness and desire to improve myself, they gave me the opportunity anyway.

    Accountants tend to be money focused, and this is one way to get qualified without carrying loads of debt

    - Zak Barwell

    Company trailblazer

    I was the first apprentice they ever hired - as it was usually only ever reserved for high achieving graduates. So you need to know your stuff and it’s very competitive. I was having to prove myself every day.

    While on the course I learnt so much, and quickly got given more responsibilities. Now, just 18 months later I am starting to manage my own projects, I’m client facing and leading meetings. I’m really progressing my career.

    You studied for your Advanced Level (Level 3) whilst working full time. How did you find that?

    Yeah, the work/life balance took a bit of getting used to.

    Luckily I would have study days, where I could leave the office and focus solely on my education. It meant that when I came back, I would be able to put what I learnt into practice.

    OnDemand was also great for managing it all too. It would allow me to get into a study routine.

    I think OnDemand is great. It’s good for resources and the knowledge checks, which help you know where you’re up to. Plus you’re able to revisit any topics as many times as you want, in case you lack understanding.

    But my company have been great too. They’re really flexible with the days that I choose to take off for study. Factors behind my success have been the combination of my flexible company and the support offered by Kaplan, particularly the talent coaches, throughout my apprenticeship.

    What’s next for you?

    I want to continue my studies so that in 1-2 years I will have finished AAT Professional Level (Level 4). After that I want to study ACA and become chartered in 3-4 years. This should hopefully see me reach manager level at work.

    Worldwide ambition

    Hopefully in the next 5 years I will have my studies finished and then I can think about what to do next. I’ll have so many opportunities available - around the world - once I’m a chartered accountant.

    I’d say I am quite money motivated, so could potentially look at further qualifications. If I end up opening my own accountancy practice, I want to offer a wide range of services, so I better learn as much as I can!

    What would you say to someone who was thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

    I would say that if you are considering routes into accountancy and studying AAT then think about the apprenticeship option. Accountants tend to be money focused, and this is one way to get qualified without carrying loads of debt, so it’s financially very efficient!

    And as I was working at the same time, I progressed quickly in my job because I was using my new knowledge straight away.

    It’s like having your work experience all paid for and being fast tracked all at once. At the end of your qualification you come out totally prepared. I even feel like it’s prepared me for the world better than a degree.

    Final thoughts

    Ultimately though, it comes down to the individual.

    For some, the uni-life experience is huge. I missed out on that, as I was living at home and working. But, personally, I don’t regret it. I would not be where I am without the path I chose.

    I have nearly 4 years work experience at 21. Not a bad start.

  • At which level should I start studying AAT?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 25, 2020

    The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) is one of the most popular accounting qualifications out there. But for people new to the qualification, it can be hard to work out which level to start at.

    AAT is made up of three levels: Foundation, Advanced, and Professional, as well as the AAT Bookkeeping Qualifications that can be taken separately.

    You don’t need any previous qualifications or accountancy experience to begin studying AAT. And anyone, from school leavers to career changers, can start the qualification.

    Here’s an overview of each level, and the experience required.

    AAT Bookkeeping Qualifications

    There are three bookkeeping qualifications, Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping (Level 2, CIB), Foundation Award in Accounting Software (Level 2, AIAS), and Advanced Certificate in Bookkeeping (Level 3, CIB). If you pass all three qualifications, you can gain AAT Professional Bookkeeper status.

    You don’t need any previous accounting experience to take a Bookkeeping course, just be willing to learn new skills.

    If you want to start AAT at the Advanced Diploma level, it’s advisable to take one of the bookkeeping courses as you will need a good knowledge of Double Entry Bookkeeping.

    AAT Foundation Certificate

    Foundation Certificate covers the basic principles of accountancy, and is your starting point if you’ve never studied accountancy before. You don’t need any prior experience to start at Foundation, but will need good maths, IT and English skills.

    You’ll learn the basic principles of accountancy, such as double-entry bookkeeping, costing and preparing financial statements, as well as how to use accountancy software. Most people complete this level in around six months to a year.

    If you’ve completed the AAT Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping (FCIB) qualification, you’ll be exempt from completing the first two units of this level (Bookkeeping Transactions and Bookkeeping Controls).

    The Foundation Certificate includes the following subjects/assessments:

    • Bookkeeping Transactions (BTRN)
    • Bookkeeping Controls (BKCL)
    • Elements of Costing (ELCO)
    • Foundation Synoptic Assessment (FYSA)
    • Using Accountancy Software (UACS)

    Once you’ve passed this level, you could work in roles such as an accounts payable clerk, accounts officer, payroll administrator and a finance assistant, with salaries of up to £23,000*.

    AAT Advanced Diploma

    The Advanced Diploma builds on the knowledge gained in the Foundation Certificate level. If you work in accounts or have studied accountancy before, you may be able to start at this level.

    Ideally, to start at the Advanced level, you should have passed AAT Foundation (Level 2). You may be eligible for relevant exemptions if you’ve been working in an intermediate accounts role, or have achieved relevant A Levels.

    If you wanted to start at Advanced Level, there is an assumption that you have a good knowledge of Double Entry Bookkeeping, so taking an AAT Bookkeeping qualification is a good idea.

    At the Advanced Level, you’ll learn complex accounting techniques, and master a number of accounting disciplines including: financial processes, advanced bookkeeping, final accounts and ethical practices for accountants. Most people complete this level in around six months to a year.

    The Advanced Diploma includes the following subjects/assessments:

    • Advanced Bookkeeping (AVBK)
    • Final Accounts Preparation (FAPR)
    • Management Accounting: Costing (MMAC)
    • Indirect Tax (IDRX)
    • Advanced Synoptic Assessment (AVSY)

    After completing this level, you could become a finance officer, assistant accountant or an advanced bookkeeper, earning a salary of up to £25,000**.

    AAT Professional Diploma

    This is the final level, teaching you more complex accounting theory, and you can choose two specialist subjects to focus on. You will need to have completed the AAT Advanced Diploma to start at this level.

    At the Professional level you’ll learn about budgeting, management accounting, preparing financial statements, accounting systems, and tax.

    The Professional Diploma is made up of 4 compulsory subjects/assessments and then you can choose two optional subjects:

    Compulsory subjects/assessments:

    • Financial Statements of Limited Companies (FSLC)
    • Management Accounting: Budgeting (MABU)
    • Management Accounting: Decision and Control (MDCL)
    • Professional synoptic assessment (PDSY): Accounting Systems and Controls

    Options:

    • Business Tax (BSTX)
    • Personal Tax (PLTX)
    • External Auditing (ETAU)
    • Cash and Treasury Management (CTRM)
    • Credit Management (CDMT)

    You could work in exciting jobs such as a forensic accountant, tax manager, accountancy consultant and finance analyst, earning salaries of up to £42,500*** as you advance and gain experience.

    Ready to start your AAT journey?

    We hope you have more of an idea where to start your AAT journey. If it sounds like the right qualification for you, have a look at our AAT pages for more information.

    *reed.co.uk
    **totaljobs.co.uk
    ***neuvoo.co.uk

  • You said, we did

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 20, 2020

    Despite this year’s challenges, our aim is to keep improving and listening to you. We receive student feedback throughout the year and try our best to implement a lot of your suggestions.

    This is what we’ve done:

    MyKaplan

    We’ve made an Activity Feed available to all of our students, so you can easily communicate with your tutor and other students on your course, and also start your own posts.

    We’ve also improved our course confirmation pages so you don’t have to call Student Services to find out when your course will be available in MyKaplan.

    You said that you were struggling to find your learning resources, and you didn’t know which learning activities to do. So we’ve restructured all courses for AAT, ACCA, ACA and CIMA around the learning programme, which includes a homework folder for each day of the course.

    Some of you are finding the volume of information on MyKaplan courses overwhelming, especially at the beginning of the course.

    In response to this we’re developing a welcome area on MyKaplan with information that pertains to your qualification such as: your route to qualification, how to use MyKaplan, how we support you and important policies. This leaves the main course to focus purely on the content relating to that subject.

    You said that you weren’t sure when access to MyKaplan would end for your course. So, we’ve added information to the: online basket, the product pages on the website, and added it to the confirmation email once enrolled.

    You will also get an email four weeks before your access to MyKaplan ends. Finally, we are updating the My Account area in MyKaplan so that you can easily see the number of days you will continue to have access to your course.

    Courses

    When considering different study methods, you said that you’d like to try out an OnDemand course before buying one, so we’ve created a free OnDemand demo that you can access for 5 days. This is available for AAT, ACCA and CIMA.

    You told us that when you need to resit an exam that you would like more support. We have now introduced online resit courses for all our qualifications to help you prepare and get back on track.

    CIMA students

    You told us that you didn’t always ‘have the depth of understanding to tackle the Objective Tests’ as they are written in a way you weren’t expecting. We’ve now included Application Modules across all learning channels to help better prepare you for OT exams.

    Past exam content for the Case Study seemed to be confusing, so we have reviewed all the content and guidance, streamlining and simplifying the information so it’s easier to understand.

    We discovered that you were confused about the changes to the CIMA syllabus, and how to navigate through the transition period. So, we provided clarity and support by hosting quarterly advice webinars and updating Student Services with syllabus information, as well as updating our websites with syllabus specific guidance.

    We provided transitional support content to students who needed to sit an exam under the 2019 syllabus, having initially studied under the 2015 syllabus. This support will remain in place for the whole of 2020.

    ACCA students

    ACCA Students, with exemptions or who’d taken a study break, told us they were finding ACCA Strategic Professional challenging. We’ve improved the pre-course work by adding diagnostic tests focusing on key underpinning knowledge, with adaptive content released to those who require extra support.

    ACA students

    ACA students told us they needed more clarification on ‘personalised days’. More information has been added to your MyKaplan courses and tutors have been equipped with additional slides to share in class and prepare you for them.

    When studying remotely, students want an indication of how long it will take them to study various pieces of their learning content. Within ACA courses, we’ve added timings to each Study Module to help students understand the time commitment required for each piece of content.

    ATT students

    Those who are studying ATT said that you have ‘inadvertently sat subjects in an order that made it harder’ for yourself i.e. studied an advanced subject before an introductory one. So, we’ve improved the sitting guidance on the website.

    We’ve added a pop-up, when purchasing, that offers advice on sittings and has added information to the course introduction slides. It makes sure that all staff are giving the best possible advice to ATT students.

    Tell us more

    We always want to hear what you think, so we can keep increasing your chance of success. We’re running our next satisfaction survey in October, so keep an eye out for that.

  • How to become a Management Accountant

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 20, 2020

    If you’re great with numbers, ambitious, and have excellent communication skills, then Management Accounting might be the role for you. Here’s a quick guide to the role and what you need to qualify.

    What does a Management Accountant do?

    A Management Accountant is in charge of a company’s finances. They take overall responsibility for the accounts and look for ways to improve profitability.

    They work for one company, rather than other accountants that can work for numerous companies. And they head up a team of other financial professionals.

    So if you were a Management Accountant, your daily tasks could be:

    • Analysing performance
    • Identifying and managing risk
    • Tracking spending and setting budgets
    • Preparing accounts
    • Financial forecasting
    • Formulating business strategies

    Why choose this career path?

    This role can truly open doors for you. As a management accountant you are in demand, across the world.

    And as someone who is helping to make serious business and financial decisions for a company, you can truly make a difference. It’s a job where your input counts, and you get a detailed look at a company’s inner workings.

    The role can also be seen as a stepping stone. Many management accountants move on to become a finance director, management consultant or even CEO*.

    What qualifications do I need?

    It’s not essential to have a degree, but you will need to have a professional qualification such as ACA or ACCA. Even AAT can pave the way to a career as a Management Accountant.

    To become a Chartered Management Accountant you will need to take the CIMA qualification.

    What skills do I need?

    You will need to have a high level of numeracy amongst other vital skills, such as:

    • Commercial awareness and an interest in business
    • Excellent oral communication skills to explain complex financial information in a clear manner
    • Excellent written communication skills for reporting and analysis
    • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work as, and lead, a team
    • Logical thinking, as well as analytical and problem solving skills
    • Ability to work under pressure and to very tight deadlines

    This list isn’t exhaustive but gives you a good idea of what you need to be able to do to become a successful Management Accountant.

    What could I earn as a Management Accountant?

    Starting out you could earn around £28,000**, rising to around £33,000 after passing professional exams. The average salary in the UK is around £40-£45,000 but this can change depending on location, size of the company, experience and qualifications. As a senior Management Accountant you could be earning around £65,000.

    Interested?

    Check out our CIMA page for information about becoming a Chartered Management Accountant, and what you’ll need to do to become qualified.

    *https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/

    **https://www.prospects.ac.uk/

  • Launching the Kaplan school leaver scholarship

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 13, 2020

    This month, school leavers get their calculated A Level and GCSE exam results. But due to COVID-19, this year will pose unique challenges for students.

    If this reflects your situation, it may prompt many questions...

    Do you move on to college or university? And what are the prospects of getting a job and/or doing an apprenticeship when so many businesses are making staff redundant or pausing recruitment?

    We’re happy to announce that we’ve created a scholarship to help give ten young people from disadvantaged backgrounds a kick start to their careers.

    What is the Accounting Foundation Scholarship?

    Our ten 12-month scholarships allow any student to study the AAT Foundation Certificate online. This is via our Brighter Future partners, Career Ready, LTSB and NewGen Accountants, and with Kaplan directly.

    Each scholarship is worth just over £1,900 and covers the cost* of the full AAT Foundation Certificate OnDemand course, including hard copy study materials, exam fees, and full AAT Membership for the first 12 months.

    The AAT Foundation Certificate is ideal for those who are new to accountancy and finance. You don’t need any experience or prior knowledge, and it’s a great way to start a career in accounting.

    Interested? Apply now!

    For more information and to apply please visit our Kaplan Accounting Foundation Scholarship page.

    Applications close on 27th August, so don’t miss this great opportunity!

    * 12 month access to a full AAT Foundation Level OnDemand course £1316, AAT 12 month membership fee £147 and x5 first attempt exam and admin fees £440 when sat at a Kaplan exam centre.

  • Motivation, concentration and confidence - reignite your studies

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 30, 2020

    We teamed up with CIMA to offer some thoughts and tips around kick starting your studies, after the impact of the lockdown.

    After conducting a recent student survey, we recognised that many of you are struggling with motivation. This is understandable given the current circumstances, so let’s begin by addressing this.

    Motivation

    To build motivation it is good to reflect on it. Think about what initially motivated you to study your particular qualification. Was it for example - to progress your career? Or get a better job? Chances are these are still your motives, you just need to rediscover them.

    In the context of setting objectives, which is an important element in motivation, you may want to consider these points:

    1. State what you want, not what you don’t want.
    2. What will you accept as proof that you have achieved your targets?
    3. Is achieving this objective within your control?
    4. What will you gain and lose as a result?
    5. Write the above down!

    Framing your objectives in a positive way can really help. For example, stating what you want, rather than don't want, works on the basis that the brain struggles to deal with negatives. Try it for yourself, “don't think of a purple tree”.

    “I don't want to fail” is not as good as saying “I want to pass”. Combine this with point 3, passing is not in your control but working harder and practicing exam questions is, and you have a very powerful tool to improve your motivation.

    ‘It’s not the right time’

    When we explore our motivation one of the things we see often is people putting things off. I hear students say ‘I am motivated, it’s just not the right time’. When you say that, you’re mentally giving yourself a break. You’re allowing yourself to defer your study.

    If you find yourself doing this, then I would challenge you to question it. Run through the following questions:

    1. Why is it not the right time?
    2. Is this real or made up?
    3. What are you waiting for to change?
    4. Can you change it? Is it within your control?

    For instance if you are saying to yourself about the current circumstances ‘I’m not resuming my studies until classrooms are open again’ then you’re dependent on factors outside your control. This ultimately might lead you to pause your studies indefinitely.

    If you come to this realisation and it's not what you want, then it might cause you to think about alternative ways to study - the most obvious being online.

    So the challenging questions above are just designed to try and avoid making the wrong decisions.

    Concentration

    Very often, when we talk about ‘concentration’ in relation to our studies we really mean ‘attention’. Are you always paying attention? Are you fully engaged with your studies?

    When we multitask, for instance, we give only brief attention to one thing and then to another. What it does is effectively tire us out, because attention is a limited resource.

    If we follow the logic that ‘attention is limited’ we can be mindful of needing to be fully invested, mentally, in one thing at a time to get the fullest out of it.

    Tips for improving concentration:

    1. Reduce distractions - don’t have your mobile phone out while studying
    2. Have clearly defined targets
    3. Relax and stay calm
    4. Avoid too much stimulation, for example coffee or playing video games before study

    Confidence

    Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance, arising from an appreciation of your own abilities. It’s a belief in your ability to succeed, It doesn’t mean that you will or you won’t.

    One of the features of classroom based learning is that it is scheduled. So students don't have the chance to think about whether they are ready. It is predetermined. But when it is all down to you, you have to find ways to build your confidence.

    The reason for doing a mock, for instance, is to give you the experience of sitting the exam.The mark you receive is secondary. By simulating the process the uncertainty as to what the exam will be like is reduced. It's about building your confidence.

    Confidence is not something we are gifted at birth. It is something to be developed and is incredibly important in helping you perform to the best of your abilities.

    Tips for thinking about confidence:

    1. Accept you will never be 100% confident - and if you think you are, maybe you’re being over confident.
    2. Have you completed a solid period of studying?
    3. Complete a mock exam - but remember it's confidence building as much as a test of ability.
    4. Avoid exam rescheduling.
    Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, and no matter how great your natural talent, there is only one way to obtain and sustain it…..Work.

    - Jack Nicklaus, American Professional Golfer

    This piece is a summary of some of the main points raised on a webinar by Kaplan’s Head of Learning, Stuart Pedley Smith, and Mark Foley from CIMA.  Watch the full recording online.

  • How we’ve adapted to Covid-19

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 23, 2020

    This year has been challenging for us all, for individuals and businesses.

    As a business ourselves we’ve had to adapt and make huge decisions to ensure not only our survival, but the ongoing success of our students and the businesses we work for.

    Here’s a short clip from our Apprenticeship Partnerships Director, who explains how we’ve changed, and used already existing methods, to support our clients.

    We’ve seen students more engaged with their learning than ever before.
  • ACCA prize winner, through online study

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 23, 2020

    We found out how adapting to Live Online resulted in Jinder Toor becoming a global prizewinner for his ACCA Strategic Business Leader exam.

    Tell us about your initial journey with Kaplan

    I booked onto a Live Online course because my role involves a lot of travel, so I needed the flexibility. Even between audit trips, I often found myself travelling for other commitments. It wasn’t feasible to study in the classroom due to the amount of travelling involved with my role.

    This was my first post-graduate Accountancy exam - so it’s hard to say why I did so well. But I’m currently studying Strategic Business Reporting (SBR), and I plan on continuing my studies with the same level of motivation.

    How have you found studying online compared with the classroom?

    At first, I thought it would take some time adapting to this new way of learning. But once you begin, you realise it is not too dissimilar to studying in a classroom.

    You still need to create time and space for yourself to study, and you still have to read up on the course and work to understand topics yourself. If there was something I didn’t understand, I would read up about it until I did. It’s the same approach I used when I was at uni, when I was studying in a classroom.

    Once you get accustomed to working online, I found it easier.

    It’s really important to create a routine and structure, so that you progress through the course and still understand all of the material. It’s not a good approach to cram at the end, as you then may not understand the full syllabus. So, early on I baked study time into my overall schedule to make sure I stayed on track with my course.

    What really works for you with Live Online?

    Once you get accustomed to working online and submitting work that way, I found it easier. It offers visual aids so you understand where you’re up to on the course, and the format of the mock exams is brilliant for understanding exactly where you can improve.

    As you progress through the course and get feedback, you understand what you need to improve and this gives you more confidence.

    The Kaplan schedule is really well paced. It makes sure you get to your exam well prepared, without having to cram anything at the end. So use the online tools to your advantage and spend time completing your work each week.

    It feels just like studying in a classroom

    Did you miss out on connecting with other students?

    It’s been fine actually. During the lectures there’s an online chat panel, which is really useful. At first, I was sceptical about it as I thought it might be a distraction having it there through the class. But as soon as the tutor mentioned it, people started asking questions in the chat. There’s a really good Q&A flow from the start.

    So it feels just like studying in a classroom - take advantage of this if you study online!

    How have you found the tutor support?

    The tutors were great throughout the course, I always felt supported. I didn’t notice any difference in this regard between online and studying in a classroom.

    As well as the live chat function, my tutors were great at providing personal feedback. This was especially important during mock exams. They always gave timely, constructive feedback that gave me confidence ahead of the exam.

    It was important to get this level of feedback for SBL. As it’s mostly a written exam, it was vital to understand where and how my answers could be improved.

    Finally, many of our students are struggling with motivation. How did you find that?

    It takes commitment to balance full-time work with your studies, so it is important to stay motivated by keeping the end goal in mind. Another key point for motivation is to continue hobbies you enjoy, as these can be used as breaks or rewards between studying,

    Time management - When you’re studying online (especially alongside work) it’s really important to set a routine and structure your studies. It’s a sacrifice as you’re often giving up evenings and weekends, but you’ve got to keep the end goal in mind. You need to be self-reliant if you’re going to study online.

    Bite-sized learning - Break your studies down into chunks. Reach out to the great tutors if you need support. I know it’s easier said than done but stay motivated and keep working hard!

    Jinder Toor was a global prizewinner for March 2020’s SBL ACCA exam, he used the Live Online study method.

  • How to restart your career plans

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 16, 2020

    Due to current world events, it’s unlikely that the economic climate will be ‘back to normal’ very soon.

    And this has left many students, learners, and newly qualified accountants insecure about their career prospects.

    So in collaboration with CABA, the charity which supports the wellbeing of the chartered accountant community, we’ve come up with a list of ways to help make the most of the current circumstances.

    Review your plans

    The timescales on your career plan might simply need adjusting. Like a business, you need to be adaptable and open to revising your plans, to fit the current environment. Economic cycles take time, but history proves that there are always peaks and troughs. Your time will come.

    A zig zagged progression

    Your original plan may have been to progress from role A to role B. But be open to progressing in a less conventional manner. There could be a few extra steps to take in order to reach your final destination. You never know, being flexible could open up other opportunities you never anticipated.

    Use the time to upskill

    With the extra time you may have, keep honing your technical skills. Consider what skills and experience will make you stand out, in a new role or even at your current company. Be ready for when those opportunities become more commonplace.

    During lockdown online courses have never been more popular, so see what’s out there.

    Build your experience

    There might be some limitations with this, but keep an eye out for opportunities to gain experience in fields you may want to move in to. At work, offer to help out, maybe seize opportunities to shadow a team as they work. Gaining tangible experiences is another way to make yourself aware of opportunities and develop yourself.

    Build your brand

    In a competitive job market, it can take quite a lot of effort to stand out. Learn how to build your own ‘personal brand’ to promote your skills and develop a unique identity so you can be at the front of recruiters’ minds.



    There are all sorts of things you can do. You could start a blog, build a new professional network, or contribute expert opinion to discussions and forums on LinkedIn.

    Invest in yourself

    The restrictions that have been implemented during the pandemic have forced people to slow down and re-evaluate how they were spending time. Maybe this is the time to reset your work-life balance in a more permanent way. Connect with family and friends. Develop your hobbies and interests, enrich your personal life.

    Talk it over

    You don’t have to find all the answers yourself. Talk over your ambitions and objectives, as well as your frustrations and disappointments with a colleague, manager or mentor. They may offer a fresh perspective or have helpful experience they can share. Your friends and family can offer a balanced viewpoint that includes your personal life and goals too.

    It’s always helpful to have a soundboard and someone to offer you an alternative perspective on your thoughts.

    This blog is a joint collaboration between Kaplan and CABA. CABA is the charity which supports the wellbeing of the chartered accountant community. They provide lifelong support to ACA students, past and present ICAEW members, and their close families across the globe.

    For more information on how CABA can support you at this time visit cabamywellbeing.org.uk.

  • How to become a financial analyst

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 15, 2020

    The world is a strange place at the moment, and it’s making a lot of us think about changing things up and moving in a new direction. If that’s you, then you might want to consider becoming a financial analyst.

    Here we break down the role for you.

    What is a financial analyst?

    Financial analysts track stocks, bonds, equities, and other financial instruments, then make recommendations based on their research. They often work for investment houses, stock brokerages, banks, insurance agencies, and similar organisations.

    What do they do?

    The work that financial analysts undertake falls under two broad categories: sell-side analysts and buy-side analysts.

    Buy-side analysts work for hedge funds or insurance companies to help businesses with their investment strategies.

    Sell-side analysts advise financial service sales agents who issue, sell or trade stocks, bonds, and other investments.

    The job description for a financial analyst can vary depending on the employer - an insurance company would have different needs to an investment bank for example. Some financial analysts make recommendations for private, in-house funds, whilst others work for publications and businesses that make public recommendations.

    What qualifications do I need?

    You will need to have a bachelor’s degree as a minimum, in a finance-related subject such as economics, statistics or accounting. You would have a much broader range of opportunities available if you had a master’s degree in finance or a Master's of Business Administration (MBA).

    You may also need to get certified if you want to advance your career. Many employers will require you to get the CFA charter for senior level positions. The CFA charter is the most prestigious designation a financial analyst can achieve. It comprises three tough exams and four years of relevant experience. It’s not to be taken lightly - it’s recommended that you study at least 300 hours for each exam.

    What skills do I need?

    You’ll need a wide range of skills, and they do vary depending on the role you’re in. But they could include:

    • Data analysis
    • Financial analysis
    • Financial modelling
    • Strategic thinking
    • Decision making
    • Marketing skills
    • Math skills
    • Attention to detail
    • Communication

    What could I earn as a financial analyst?

    The average Financial Analyst salary in the UK ranges from £44,000 to £75,000*, depending on your skill set, location and level of experience. This doesn’t include any bonuses that might be available.

    Gaining more experience and knowledge will always allow you to aim for the higher end of the salary band.

    Interested?

    Want to become a financial analyst? Check out our CFA page for more information about the qualification, and what is involved to become qualified.

    *Sourced from Robert Half. https://www.roberthalf.co.uk/salary-guide/accounting-finance/financial-analyst-salaries

  • CIMA Management case study exam explained

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 09, 2020

    With the next set of exams coming up we thought it would be great to give you an overview of the management case study, also known as CIMA gateway.

    The aim of the CIMA Professional Management case study is to apply the knowledge you have learnt across the whole management level.

    In the objective test exams you show what you know and how to answer questions quickly, but a case study exam is when you show how to apply what you know and how to give advice to management. It builds on everything you’ve studied in the underlying OT syllabus and combines it all together.

    The case study examines everything that can’t be assessed in an objective test exam. It’s meant to simulate what a management accountant would do in the workplace - answering tasks and what your boss could expect from your role as a finance manager.

    Core activities

    Your case study will be structured around core activities. There are 5 at management level:

    • Evaluate opportunities to add value
    • Implement senior management decisions
    • Manage performance and costs to aid value creation
    • Measure performance
    • Manage internal and external stakeholder.

    You could have a task on one core activity, or perhaps a sub-task with more than one. Make sure you read the questions carefully and work out what you’re actually being asked to do. You need to thoroughly answer the question and not miss anything out.

    Top tips for passing the case study exam

    1. Know the role of the Finance Manager inside and out.

      Familiarising yourself with the pre-seen material is key. Approximately seven weeks before the exam you’ll be provided with around 20-25 pages of information on a fictitious company. You will, for this exam, assume the role of Finance Manager.

      You’ll need to read everything carefully, making sure you know the ins and outs of the company within the pre-seen information you’re issued with before the exam. During it you could be asked about almost anything from the underlying OT subjects. In the past, companies have been in the music industry (think Spotify) and a perfume manufacturer (think Chanel No 5).

      On the exam day you’ll be given more information to consider and then you’ll be asked questions about the company you’ve been looking at. You could be asked questions on: NPV, Project Management, or around financial standards and how to treat items in the financial statements.

      If you feel rusty on these topics, or unsure as to how they will be applied to a case study exam, then book onto one of our courses.


    2. Brush up on E2, P2, and F2 - Managing Performance, Advanced Management Accounting and Advanced Financial Reporting

      You need to have a good grasp of key theories, models, frameworks, and calculations and other knowledge from the Management Level Objective Test papers, then apply these to the fictitious company within the pre-seen information.

      You’ll be required to show how your knowledge can be applied to a real scenario. If you don’t brush up on your knowledge you might miss a critical concept that could be applied for the issue that has been given to you.


    3. Prepare with mocks and practice questions

      Kaplan Publishing is the only official publisher of CIMA approved material, meaning that all of our books and materials have been reviewed and approved by CIMA faculty. For our case study courses we will give you mock exams for you to try.

      We’d suggest you attempt your mocks under exam conditions so you get used to the time frame in which you have to work. The case study timer is always ticking down and if you don’t complete a task in the time the system will automatically move you on to the next task without you being able to finish.

      These mocks will be marked by us at Kaplan, so make sure you fully explain everything. Writing out notes or bullet points might prove to you that you know what you would put in your real exam, but it won’t show someone else that you know what you’re talking about and will definitely score you as many marks as a fully developed answer.

      Treat your mocks like the real thing, develop exam technique and make sure you get your point across.

      Our MCS study text will walk you through what you need to prepare for the case study exam, providing you with proven study techniques. It covers the building blocks of successful learning and exam techniques, with advice on how to read the pre-seen material.

      You’ll be given handy hints and tips, to make it easy for you to apply what you’ve learned to your exam, you’ll also find a chapter on how to approach the more technical questions. This is invaluable advice to help you pass your case study exam.


    4. Plan your answers

      Starting from the February 2020 sitting, CIMA gives you an indication of how much time to spend per task, so you can plan your exam time accordingly. There’s no point spending lots of time on a task that indicates it’s a short one. This probably means it isn’t worth as many marks as a longer task.

      Understandably you might panic because you want to get writing, but if you plan your answer a little, at the start, it gives you a great basis to work from. That way, you know where you’re heading. It can also help you structure your writing and answer.


    5. Hone your writing technique

      As part of the Management case study exam, you’ll have 30 to 60 minutes to write a financial report or response to a colleague, manager, or senior executive via email. In the exam you can expect 3 to 4 tasks to answer.

      A good, clear, writing style is very important. Use short, digestible, paragraphs to make it easy for the examiner to read, and give you those vital marks.


    6. Take a look at the new exam blueprints

      CIMA has published examination blueprints, based on the syllabus. They provide information about the format, structure and weightings of the assessments. You can view the Management Level blueprint on the CIMA website.

      You may find that some of the content has changed, especially at E2 because of the change in the syllabus in 2019. Don’t worry. If you enrol on a course with us we will guide you through this and help you progress through your exam.

    7. What are the pass rates for the CIMA Management Case Study?

      CIMA Case Study’s 4 exam sittings take place over 3 days at the end of February, May, August and November each year.

      Pass rates for the 2019 exam sittings were:

      February sitting - 57%

      May sitting - 59%

      August sitting - 46%

      November sitting - 68%

      Results for CIMA case study take four to five weeks to come through as they are human-marked. It’s a notoriously difficult exam, but we’re proud that Kaplan’s CIMA pass rates consistently exceed the national average.

      Ready to do your CIMA Management Case Study exam?

      If you’re ready you can book your exam now, but make sure you have read everything you can about it so you are well prepared and confident going in.

      If you’re just considering CIMA, or are thinking about moving from Operational to Management, check out our CIMA pages for more information. We also have plenty of study methods and funding options to choose from to make your studies go as smoothly as possible.

  • Launching a new Treasury Apprenticeship

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 09, 2020

    We are delighted to announce a new treasury pathway for our Financial Services Professional Level 6 apprenticeship, in conjunction with the Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT).

    We’re the very first training provider to offer this route, and to explain how it will work, we're inviting employers to attend a webinar with us and ACT on 28th July 2020, 1-2pm. Details can be found below.

    The ACT is the only professional treasury body with a Royal Charter and sets the global benchmark for treasury excellence, leading the profession through internationally recognised qualifications. The following qualification from the ACT has recently been approved for delivery under the Level 6 standard by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education:

    • Diploma Treasury Management, which includes the Certificate Treasury if required.

    As a leading provider of Accountancy, Tax and Financial Services apprenticeships, treasury sits well within Kaplan’s existing portfolio of apprenticeships. Whilst the 32-36 month programme is available for businesses in a variety of sectors, the new pathway particularly lends itself to: building societies, commercial / business banking, investment banking, investment management and those in operational roles.

    We know that businesses vary in the size of their treasury function, or financial services teams which work closely with treasurers, so we’ve taken the decision to enrol all learners on this programme as one cohort. This will allow learners to support one another and develop alongside their peers, sharing good practice.

    Ideal for newcomers

    The programme suits individuals who are new to the sector (i.e. graduates), and for existing employees looking to develop skills and behaviours - plus gain a recognised professional qualification.

    During the apprenticeship, individuals will be required to develop into senior roles tasked with maintaining the financial health and success of a business, contributing to the development of strategic and operational plans for their area.

    I’m very excited about this launch, which will finally provide a treasury apprenticeship route within the financial services sector. It’s important for bankers and others to understand their clients and support them with the right products and approach.

    - Caroline Stockmann, ACT Chief Executive

    Ongoing support

    During the programme, apprentices will be supported by a Kaplan Talent Coach and will develop the Skills and Behaviours required to be competent through a range of online learning activities and work-based projects. Apprentices will be invited to interactive development sessions and asked to document their off-the-job learning activities through a Training Record.

    They will gain significant knowledge from the ACT Diploma in Treasury Management, whilst making use of all the benefits of becoming a student member of the ACT for the duration of their studies.

    Sign up to our Webinar

    If your organisation has a treasury function and you would like to find out how this apprenticeship would work for you, please join Kaplan and the ACT at our launch webinar on 28th July, 1-2pm.

    REGISTER TO JOIN WEBINAR

    For more information on anything mentioned in this article please email apprentices@kaplan.co.uk.

  • What type of student are you?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 02, 2020

    Do you think of yourself as a ‘Class clown’? Or maybe a ‘Procrastinator’?

    Find out with our new Instagram filter.

    The Kaplan Instagram account launched the filter in February and it’s proving to be quite popular with students. Once you activate it it assigns you a ‘student type’.

    When we released it we thought there’d be some uptake and that it’d die off after the first few months, but it’s still rolling. It’s just a fun, relatable thing that students can do.

    - Anna Cooper, Social Media Exec

    How to activate it

    To access it, all you need to do is log onto our Instagram profile with your phone, then click on the filter button (it looks like a little face icon) and away you go.

    Our Instagram account is useful for many things, we regularly post: motivational tips, well-being messages, links to useful blogs, new product announcements and course offers.

    So give us a follow, and don’t forget to discover what type of student you are!

  • How to prepare for your next exam - today

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 25, 2020

    John Cunningham is the regional Head of Education for Europe and Americas, at ACCA. He offers some tips for those looking to get back into their ACCA exams.

    No matter where you are in the world, COVID has been massively disruptive. You have this extra challenge now in the sense that it’s affected all areas of your life, and you may be considering how to get ‘back on track’.

    Given that exams are starting to resume soon, in many countries, there are various things you can be doing to get you where you want to be.

    Plan

    Ask yourself ‘What is my plan?’. Pick a target date, establish when you want your next exam to be, mentally commit, and work back from there.

    You might simply mentally commit to getting your exam entry in. That first mental commitment is the all important first step.

    Once you’ve done that think ‘What do I need to do now to reasonably prepare for that exam?’.

    There are planning resources out there such as the ACCA study planner, on the ACCA website, which is a great new tool to help manage your time in the run up to an exam. For the other main accountancy qualifications I am sure they have their own versions.

    Learning is a habit, so make sure you get into that habit and stick at it.

    Get good tuition

    I recommend to all students that they should make the use of an expert tuition provider. As you may already know, the qualifications are very difficult and this really helps.

    Some students out there choose to buy the books and study entirely by themselves. This works for some but this is the more difficult way to do it. In my role I look at a large volume of student data, it shows that by using a platinum training provider like Kaplan you’d be significantly more likely to pass.

    Make studying, habitual

    Another thing I look at are ‘risk categories’. Meaning, what are the trends we see when students start to wobble and risk not getting qualified?

    Learning is a habit, so make sure you get into that habit and stick at it. It’s like the gym, if you miss one session and then another and another then the longer it goes on, the less likely you are to get back into it.

    Also, prepare yourself for potential failure. We know that once a student fails an exam, it’s too easy to doubt yourself and step back. So resilience is so important with exams to ensure you have that bounce-back-ability, if you fail an exam.

    It’s vital right now that we are kind to ourselves about our learning.

    Camaraderie and well-being

    Camaraderie is important. Get yourself into a cohort; find other like minded students who you can study with, and feed off. This is really important in helping you get through it and find motivation.

    In terms of well-being, it’s important that we recognise the unusual circumstances we live in right now. It’s been an unsettling and disruptive time, which tests our resilience and adaptability.

    So it’s vital right now that we are kind to ourselves about our learning. Make realistic targets, given the circumstances. Make sure you have balance. Yes, have ambition about your studies - but make achievable targets.

    Also create opportunities for you to be able to express how you’re feeling, either with your tutor or other students. Look after your wellbeing, it’s important.

    The resources at your disposal

    Don’t just pick the book up and dive head first into the syllabus. Use resources available to help contextualise the concepts.

    We have launched something called ACCA bite-sized videos, which help to bring to life and set the scene for the context around the concepts.

    Also look at past exam papers. The research shows that students who go through past exam papers do better in the exams. It’s just a fact.

    We can’t underestimate the importance of good exam technique.

    Finally, focus on exam technique

    We can’t underestimate the importance of good exam technique. When I speak to examiners they always tell me that students leave many ‘marks on the table’, and this is down to exam technique.

    Time management is important - Avoid putting all your time into the first part of the exam, therefore leaving little for the end. Timing is crucial. Really focus on the question, and the wording - even the verb used is important.

    Look out for the verbs in the question - When the examiner uses words like ‘list’, ‘detail’, ‘compare’, ‘contrast’, etc make sure that is what you do.

    For those taking the computer based exams (CBE) make sure you’re familiar with the software and functionality. We see some students wasting a lot of time because they clearly didn’t know how to use the functions.

    Finally, mock exams are really important, so take them. And be serious with the way you take them. Take them in exam conditions, without the resources you wouldn’t have access to in the real exam, and apply the same time constraints.

    Once complete, get your tuition provider to mark it, and make use of the feedback they provide - their feedback is gold and will direct you on the areas you need to focus on during revision. It really will make the difference.

    Best of luck everyone!! And be kind to yourself!

    John Cunningham has many years of experience in Accounting education with ACCA and formerly AAT. He says his main responsibility is to ‘help people to pass exams’.

    For the full interview with our Head of Learning, Stuart Pedley Smith, watch the 30 minute interview.

  • ACCA students - have you considered an Oxford Brookes course?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 25, 2020

    With the interruption to exams, many students may be considering what they can do to keep progressing their studies. One option is the BSc Applied Accounting course, offered by Oxford Brookes University in partnership with ACCA.

    Complementing your ACCA qualification, the course allows you to gain the skills needed to apply your ACCA knowledge to a real life situation, which you will also need to use in SBL.

    With it you can make the most of the extra time you may have, and use this as a way to further boost your career prospects. The course has been jointly designed by the University and the ACCA to meet the requirements of a degree and a professional qualification.

    Suited to the current climate

    This short course can be taken entirely online, and requires students to have completed their ACCA Applied Knowledge and Skills Exams, the ACCA Ethics and Professional Skills module (EPSm).

    When preparing for the Research and Analysis Project part of the course, all students will have a mentor. This is the final element of the programme.

    Due to the current pandemic, all mentoring for the course is conducted remotely. Most mentors offer online mentoring and students do not need to use a mentor from their own country.

    Kaplan are a highly valued partner of ACCA with a team of experienced online mentors supporting students through the BSc Applied Accounting

    - Dr Jane Towers-Clark, Head of Academic Partners at ACCA

    Study with Kaplan

    At Kaplan we have a team of experienced online mentors supporting students through the BSc Applied Accounting and enable them to gain the skills desired by their employers as well as their academic and professional skills.

    For more information about how you can start this course with us, visit our Oxford Brookes page.

  • How to become an accounts assistant

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 24, 2020

    Want to move into accountancy, but don’t have much experience or any formal qualifications? An accounts assistant role could be for you.

    Junior accountancy professionals are always in high demand at finance companies, and accountants are generally some of the most sought-after professionals on the market*. So launching your career as an accounts assistant is a great place to start.

    Important, accessible, and always in demand. Here’s an overview of the role and how to move into it.

    What does an accounts assistant do?

    Within this role you’d essentially be supporting accountants with admin, carrying out a range of accountancy based tasks. You’ll be helping to: create and maintain financial records, process tax returns, prepare company accounts, invoicing, filing and many other tasks.

    Here’s a list of other duties you may carry out:

    • Preparing reports
    • Processing company expenses
    • Payroll
    • Credit control and debt chasing
    • Purchase ledgers
    • Filling out purchase orders
    • Managing petty cash
    • Answering the telephone

    Why choose this career path?

    If you are just entering the world of work after school or college, or are embarking on a career change, this can be a great entry into the stable and rewarding career of accountancy.

    Given the relevance of this profession to all industries, accounts assistants can find work in almost any sector, so your options are vast.

    Although you may be content to remain as an accounts assistants, there are many opportunities to progress beyond this role. Many employers offer their employees the chance to develop by investing in further qualifications such as AAT, CIMA or ACCA while on the job, or might want them to specialise in a particular area of accountancy.

    What qualifications do I need?

    What makes this role so accessible is that you do not require a degree or any specialist qualification to start. With many companies you will simply be trained on the job.

    Having some form of relevant qualification, or experience will give you an advantage, however, but as long as you have some A-C/4-9 GCSE’s (usually including maths) you could have a good chance.

    If you feel you’d want to go into this role with some background qualification then you may want to consider:

    What skills do I need?

    Accounts assistants are required to think logically and have a good grasp of numbers. But the softer skills that may help are:

    • Good verbal and written communication skills
    • Excellent attention to detail
    • Computer literacy
    • Good administrative skills
    • The ability to work independently or part of a team
    • The ability to work to deadline
    • Good with managing workload

    What could I earn?

    There are many factors that can affect the salary of an accounts assistant such as: the size of the company, the location, and your experience. However, accounts assistants salaries averagely range from 18-28k per annum.**

    Average UK Accounts Assistant salary in the UK, by area:

    • London: £30,240
    • Manchester: £23,000
    • Wales: £16,380
    • Scotland: £19,320
    • East of England: £19,740
    • Yorkshire and the Humber: £17,640

    Interested?

    If this role is for you, then please look at our AAT courses page for more information on Bookkeeping and accountancy foundation qualifications.

    Sources: *https://www.roberthalf.co.uk/salary-guide/accounting-finance/accounts-assistant-salaries
    **https://www.roberthalf.co.uk/salary-guide/accounting-finance/accounts-assistant-salaries
    Other source: https://www.totaljobs.com/salary-checker/average-accounts-assistant-salary-manchester#:~:text=The%20average%20salary%20for%20Accounts%20Assistant%20jobs%20in%20Manchester%20is%20%C2%A323%2C000.

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