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info_outline  Updated 3rd March 2021: Following updated government and institute guidance you can now book computer based exams running in Kaplan centres for all relevant qualifications, with the exception of ICAEW certificate exams which should continue to be sat via remote invigilation.

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  • How KAAP is benefitting our apprentices

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 28, 2021

    In December 2020 we held our latest Kaplan Apprenticeship Advisory Panel, which is an open forum that explores ways to refine and improve our apprenticeship programmes.

    The panel is made up of apprentices and senior apprenticeship staff members at Kaplan, and the discussion is honest, open and informal. December’s meeting was held online and was clearly structured to enable us to cover a lot of ground.

    Here’s a breakdown of each section.

    Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) update

    Our Quality and Equality Manager, Sarah Powell, revealed what Kaplan is doing for EDI. She detailed the feedback taken onboard after the last KAAP meeting and actions taken in response.

    Here are some of the actions mentioned:

    We plan to promote EDI through…

    • Being more transparent with data and what we are doing to improve
    • Increasing our presence at EDI events (i.e. BAME apprenticeship awards)
    • Having an EDI social calendar
    • Speaking to clients about what is important to them in relation to this.
    • Gaining more insight from our students.

    Website improvements workshop

    Following this we had an interactive session with our website team. Using the latest in online collaborative tech our web team conducted a live feedback exercise to get a stronger insight into the apprentices’ user journey on our site.

    For context, the team created a story of a fictional apprentice ‘Claire’, and how she decided to embark on her apprenticeship. It explored: where she might look for information, how she was feeling throughout the application, how she was feeling during her apprenticeship.

    The aim of this session was to ensure that our site can become more intuitive at every stage of our learners’ development with Kaplan. This is an ongoing project and we should see the fruits of this labour very soon.

    End Point Assessments feedback

    At the end of the session Apprenticeships Partnerships Director, Jenny Pelling, facilitated questions and feedback directly from a few of our current apprentices. This mainly centred around EPAs.

    Jenny invited feedback by posing the question ‘What would you like to see throughout your EPA journey?’.

    The apprentices discussed areas they felt they could use more support around, in relation to their EPAs, such as portfolios.

    Although they appreciated that they received much information about the EPAs, in the early stages of their programmes, they felt they didn’t absorb all of it at the time as their focus was elsewhere.

    Then there was a discussion around possible solutions, such as more support in the form of phonecall at a relevant time to help them feel better prepared, and improving the timing of feedback so that they have enough time to action it.

    National Apprenticeship week 2021

    Finally, and to wrap up, the panel acknowledged the forthcoming NAW in February 2021. We offered up potential ideas around what we could do to make the next KAAP relevant to it.

    Some thoughts were suggested around hosting a webinar with polls and questions, a Q&A panel, and ensuring it would be relevant to school and college leavers considering an apprenticeship. Following this we have decided to host an event during National Apprenticeship Week.

    Register for Kaplan Introduces: Kaplan Apprenticeship Advisory Panel - Build the Future

    If you are passionate about Apprenticeships and how they can make a difference in the professions, visit our advisory panel web page for more information. 

  • The lockdown global prizewinner for ACCA APM

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 28, 2021

    Global prizewinner, Katie Scott, is a Management Accountant for St George’s Hospital. A passionate accountant and NHS worker, she shares her story.

    I always knew I wanted to work in the public or charity sector, which is why I applied to work for the NHS. They have been great, offering loads of support and they put me through my studies. It’s a really interesting place to be and that’s why I have stayed.

    Now I’m working in the Children’s, Women’s and Outpatients area, as a Finance Manager. I love it.

    I also enjoy Management Accounts. I like the mixture of finance related work and the relationships you develop outside of Finance. It’s a more people-focused role, and I’m surrounded by positive people who want to make a difference.

    NHS Finance is a small world with lots of great opportunities and colleagues so I will probably stay here for a while!

    Changing study method

    With my ACCA studies last year, I started out in the classroom, but of course I had to move online because of Covid.

    When I made the transition, these were my initial observations:

    • Not being around other students was a challenge - I found this tricky at first, in terms of motivation and having peers to talk to.
    • I was worried about live online study for APM as it’s very wordy and which can make it harder to follow. I overcame that with question practice.
    • The tutor was also great at keeping everyone engaged via online chat. She did a brilliant job keeping everyone motivated and engaged, which must be really hard without face-to-face contact.
    • Despite the change I still felt quite confident going into the exam. I just had the usual exam nerves.

    Dealing with disruption

    It’s lucky that we have all of these digital platforms to share information and get things done or I would definitely be stuck!

    At first, motivation was an issue. I was meant to be sitting an exam last June but that got cancelled when the first wave of Covid hit. This meant there was a sizable gap in my studies and that made it harder to pick back up again.

    I was also starting a new job at the time, so there was a lot on my plate.

    Counting blessings

    Despite all of the disruption, the pandemic gave me more time to take a step back and focus.

    I was lucky that it was my last exam. That made it easier to stay motivated as there was light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t let myself get all this way and then stop.

    Luckily I have some really good peers too. We motivate each other, ask questions and keep each other on track. This has been vital during the pandemic. And I’ve had really supportive managers at work, which has given me one less thing to stress about.

  • Student excels at the BPT exam during the pandemic

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 21, 2021

    Mariliss Timma, an Audit Assistant at Accountancy firm Smith Cooper recently scored 97% in ACA’s BPT exam. By many, this is regarded as the hardest exam on the course. Here she tells us how she managed such a feat in these challenging times.

    To be honest, when I was doing the exam (BPT) I thought I’d ran out of time, so I was really surprised by my result!

    It’s such a hard exam. It requires practical examples, not just an understanding of theory. So you always worry that there’s little details you’ve missed. You always think you can say more.

    I thought I’d spent too long on the first question because of the way they weigh the marks. Looking back though I think my second answers were more focused, so I must have said enough.

    Overcoming low confidence

    As you can probably tell, I was not confident at the time.

    It must have been a case of quality over quantity because I felt I had missed a few small points. However, I did manage to recommend several courses of action and develop the arguments within the wider context.

    With everything going on in the world, writing my targets down helped me stay focused!

    Motivation in strange times

    We had 5 months from the start of lockdown until my next exam. At first it felt like it was ages away and I had loads of time, so I didn’t give it too much thought. I put it to the side for a few weeks while I was busy dealing with being furloughed. You know, busy life stuff!

    But I knew I shouldn’t put it off too long.

    So after a couple of weeks, to stay motivated, I created a timetable for myself. This mainly focused the study times around the weekends and in the mornings (this is when I’m most productive).

    I set regular time aside to learn, and broke it down by module. I was pretty strict with myself, setting the aim of doing a mock exam every weekend and I made sure I had enough time for the exam.

    I know time management and being organised is one of my strengths so I had to make the most of that to succeed in these circumstances. And with everything going on in the world, writing my targets down helped me stay focused!

    I’m now getting a sense of what’s best for me when learning from home.

    Moving from classroom to online

    I was supposed to be in college for everything, but that all changed with covid. Everything shifted to online and for me it was a huge change! I went to college for the technical phase in the first couple of weeks, but the final two phases were run from home.

    I’ve had some teething problems with the online classroom interactions. With asking questions, I had been a little hesitant at first as I have been unsure how to word them in this format. But I’ve kept in touch with some of course mates through Whatsapp, and that has worked for me.

    To adapt, I’ve had to change some of my habits. I’m now getting a sense of what’s best for me when learning from home.

    The new normal

    I am now at the point where, in my job, around 80% of the audits that I am working on are performed remotely. I could see this continuing for at least a few more months.

    Despite missing the office environment, and being able to speak to colleagues and clients face to face, I have felt the benefits of home-working. It has allowed me to have a better work-life balance and discover more efficient ways of working.

    The future

    I’ve just under a year of study left and then I will be qualified!

    I plan to stay in audit though. I love this role and really enjoy being at Smith Cooper. If I did move away from this role one day I would be interested in forensic accounting as I have a good eye for detail and like to ask questions.

  • What job can I get with ACCA?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 21, 2021

    Having an ACCA qualification can put you on a career path anywhere in the world. It’s a globally recognised achievement and can get you roles in top businesses, and give you the skills to set up on your own.

    As ACCA is widely accepted as one of the best accountancy qualifications we wanted to reveal the roles that could be available to you once you’ve passed the course.

    But first, what qualifications do you need to start ACCA?

    If you’re just starting out, you can begin at Foundations level without any prior knowledge or experience. It starts at GCSE level and progresses up to the equivalent of the first year of a bachelor's degree.

    You can start at the Applied Knowledge level if you are qualified to University entrance level. This is usually five GCSEs and two A-Levels, including Maths and English. If you’re AAT qualified you are exempt from this level and can start at Applied Skills.

    Applied Skills is open to you if you’ve completed the Applied Knowledge exams, have achieved the ACCA Diploma in Accounting and Business (RQF Level 4), or have a relevant accounting or finance qualification at degree level.

    The final level, Strategic Professional, can only be started if you’ve completed Applied Knowledge and Applied skills, or have been awarded exemptions due to other qualifications and experience.

    Roles and salaries

    With an ACCA qualification there are plenty of opportunities to further your career. Here’s a few options you might want to consider.

    Financial Accountant

    Financial accountants analyse financial information using cash flow statements and balance sheets. In this role you would also be responsible for preparing the organisation’s financial statements for external parties like tax and regulations authorities, creditors, shareholders and investors. You may also be expected to create business strategies to increase revenue and profit.

    Tasks could include:

    • Managing bank accounts
    • Consolidating annual accounting statements
    • Forecasting cash flow
    • Developing policy for company treasury
    • Preparing tax returns
    • Managing finance teams
    • Assisting auditors
    • Reconciling balance sheets
    • Preparing reports
    • Managing supplier rebates

    Average annual salary: £43,000 - £47,000*

    Management Accountant

    As a Management Accountant you would be responsible for recognising, measuring, assessing, and communicating the financial information of an organisation. You would be analysing critical organisational information and data that is used to assist the management in making important business decisions.

    Although the role may seem similar to financial accountants, management accountants differ as they analyse information for the internal management of the organisation to help measure performance and the strategies employed.

    Tasks could include:

    • Preparing regular financial statements and accounts
    • Monitoring spending, costs and budgets
    • Analysing the company’s financial performance
    • Forecasting and planning future spending and profits
    • Recommending ways to reduce costs and increase profits
    • Making business decisions with other managers
    • Carrying out internal audits of various departments
    • Providing external auditors with company reports and financial data
    • Managing a team of accounting technicians and finance clerks
    • Overseeing the company's payroll, credit control and bookkeeping systems

    Average annual salary: £45,000 - £50,000*

    Financial Crime Risk Analyst

    Financial Crime Risk Analysts provide expert advice and support relating to financial crime risk, control and compliance. In this role you would work to ensure sound and responsible business practices and high ethical standards within the business, as well as the integrity of the products and services delivered to customers.

    You would need to be a commercially aware communicator and be able to spot the potential risks to a project or business.

    Tasks could include:

    • Ensuring that financial crime risks are identified and reported quickly
    • Assisting with developing and communicating standards and frameworks for mitigating financial crime risks
    • Coordinating and reviewing financial crime risk assessments
    • Conducting investigations including potential financial crime cases
    • Making decisions and recommendations on appropriate actions in relation to financial crime issues

    Average annual salary: £30,000 - £50,000** depending on experience

    Auditor

    As an auditor you would examine and authenticate the precision of an organisation’s financial and operational records and statements. They tend to work for large organisations, so you could be working for top companies around the world.

    Auditors verify if the financial records of an organisation are in agreement with the regulatory framework. Investors and shareholders tend to be more confident if financial statements are audited and it also helps in reducing organisational risk.

    Tasks could include:

    • Collating, checking and analysing spreadsheet data
    • Examining company accounts
    • Assessing levels of financial risk
    • Checking that financial reports and records are accurate and reliable
    • Identifying if and where processes are not working as they should and advising on changes to be made
    • Preparing reports, commentaries and financial statements
    • Presenting findings and recommendations
    • Ensuring procedures, policies, legislation and regulations are followed

    Average annual salary: £28,000 - £31,000* but can vary depending on experience and the business.

    Any roles that take your fancy?

    This list is by no means exhaustive but if you are keen to pursue this type of career, the ACCA qualification can help you get there.

    Take a look at our ACCA pages for more information about the qualification and the study methods we have to help you pass your exams.

    *reed.co.uk
    **indeed.co.uk

  • Why study Live Online?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 14, 2021

    Live Online is one of our most popular study methods. It gives you the flexibility of online learning, with the schedule of a classroom.

    Due to the pandemic, many more are looking at home learning and online options. Live Online is ideally suited to many students’ needs right now and can provide a very easy transition for those who are used to the classroom.

    So let us tell you a little more about it, and also let you hear from students who’ve chosen Live Online for their studies.

    What is Live Online?

    Live Online combines the structure of being in a traditional classroom with the flexibility of studying from home or anywhere that you might be. You join timetabled live lectures online, and talk to tutors during the class for live feedback (via a chat panel). Part day or full day course options are available so there's something to suit everyone.

    All the lectures are recorded, so if you miss one you can catch up, or re-watch classes for extra revision.

    Live Online is available for AAT, ACCA CIMA and ACA/ICAEW courses.

    Is Live Online for me?

    If you need a schedule to keep you going, but are unable to attend a classroom, then it could be the right option for you.

    One of our AAT students, Tasha, told us:

    At first, I selected to do Distance Learning, but I put it off for a very veeerrrryyy long time! So then I decided to do LiveOnline. I thought the flexibility would suit me more, and it meant I could study whilst raising my daughter. At least if I did miss a class, I could watch it back later.

    And Peter, an ACCA student, said:

    Studying through LiveOnline was so much better for me than having to go to a classroom. It meant that I could stay in the office, or go home and study, and it meant I could spend less time commuting and more time with my family. It also meant that when I did get home, I could just enjoy the time that I had with my family.

    What’s included with Live Online?

    You’ll get timetabled classes that you join via your computer with all the benefits of classroom learning. The classes are interactive and you can ask questions and talk to other students through the chat panel as you watch the tutor. 

    All the classes are recorded so if you miss anything, or just need a recap, you can rewatch your lesson. In many respects it’s just as interactive as a classroom. You can also keep in touch with classmates through discussion forums between classes.

    You’ll get all your physical study materials posted to you so you can work through them just as you would if you were in a classroom. And there is a wealth of information and resources via MyKaplan, your study portal where you access everything you need for your course.

    And just like in a classroom, you have a tutor for support. You can get in touch with them about anything regarding your learning - be it tricky topics, sticky subjects, or that little bit of extra information that you missed in a lesson.

    Interested in Live Online?

    If you think that this might be the study method for you, you can try it for free for five days if you want to do AAT, ACCA or CIMA.

    Check out our Live Online page for more information.

  • What are the different types of AAT membership?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 10, 2020

    By becoming an AAT member you show employers and clients just how good you are at what you do. Having AAT membership can inspire confidence and allows you to stand out in the crowd.

    There are six different types of membership and we’ve broken them down for you with a bit of explanation for each level.

    Student membership

    Student membership is available for anyone who is studying the AAT Accounting qualifications. There is also a student subscription that is available for those studying AAT Bookkeeping and Access qualifications. You need to be an AAT member to sit assessments and access AAT resources.

    With it you’d receive helpful benefits such as gaining access to: sample assessments, e-learning modules and career guidance.

    Bookkeeping member - AATQB

    This level of membership is ideal if you are specialising in bookkeeping, or whilst you are a bookkeeper still gaining the requirements for full membership.

    With the AATQB you can become a self-employed bookkeeper and show that you are supported and regulated by the AAT. Another benefit to being an AATQB member is that you have access to AAT resources when you need to complete your CPD.

    Affiliate membership

    Once you’ve completed AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting you automatically become an affiliate member. Becoming an affiliate member means that there’s a meaningful relationship established with AAT, which is particularly useful when you’re deciding which professional status is most valuable to you.

    There are also a whole range of benefits you gain access to, including:

    • AAT forums
    • E-learning resources
    • Networking events
    • E-newsletter
    • Training
    • Discounts

    From here you would then progress onto a professional status with associate bookkeeping or full membership.

    Full AAT membership - MAAT

    You can become a full AAT member once you have completed the AAT Accounting Qualification and have the relevant work experience. Those who have relevant qualifications or an accounting or finance degree from a partner university can also apply for full membership.

    In addition to receiving many of the benefits stated above, the MAAT shows that you have the skills and expertise employers are looking for. You can even use the designatory letters MAAT after your name to show just how qualified you are.

    Fellow membership - FMAAT

    This is the highest level of membership, and is only available to members who have been a MAAT for five years or more.

    Fellow members are expected to have senior experience, advanced expertise, and sustained professionalism. You can use the designatory letters FMAAT after your name to reflect your senior status.

    Research shows* that FMAAT members typically earn £9,200 more than MAAT members.

    Licensed members

    You can apply for licensed membership as a bookkeeper or accountant if you wish to become self-employed. Having a license will show clients that you are supported and regulated by the AAT.

    The AAT license can also increase earning potential - the AAT salary survey 2019 showed that the average fee income for full-time self-employed AAT Licensed Accountants was £54,000 a year.

    Interested in AAT?

    If AAT sounds like something you’d be interested in, be it bookkeeping or accountancy, check out our AAT pages for more information about courses and study methods.

    Sources:
    *https://www.aat.org.uk/membership/professional-membership/fellow-membership-fmaat
    https://www.aat.org.uk/prod/s3fs-public/assets/AAT-salary-survey-2019.pdf
    https://www.aat.org.uk/membership

  • Are CIMA remote exams fair?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 10, 2020

    In May 2020, CIMA was the first accountancy Institute to introduce online exams, through remote proctoring. There’s been a lot of student debate around remote exams versus traditional - so we wanted to address that.

    CIMA has been making the effort to reassure students that they are equally robust. They have produced multiple resources on how to support students, these can be found on the CIMA website.

    These resources refer to: the ease of using an online whiteboard versus paper, the issue of not being able to leave the room whilst the exam is taking place, and whether remote invigilation is fair.

    In response to the concerns surrounding this very important subject, CIMA ran an analysis of statistics taken from remotely proctored exams that started in May 2020, and compared them to in-centre exams. In-centre exams are run by Pearson Vue and at all Pearson Vue approved centres. These exams are subject to PV regulations so it is always worth checking their guidelines.

    Comparing the results

    CIMA found that the pass rates for students taking exams remotely are effectively the same as those taken in exam centres. They also see that students complete the exam with the same time to spare, irrespective of delivery method.

    However, in choosing which exam format is best for individuals, students and learners need to also base their decision only on convenience and access to reliable technology, not only on pass rates.

    This technology includes having a stable internet connection and a suitable computer or laptop that can be relied upon. System issues have occurred where there are technology issues.

    On their site, CIMA outline when you should consider taking an exam at home:

    Consider an online exam if:

    • You have a constantly stable and high-speed internet connection
    • You have passed the system test using the equipment you plan to sit the exam with
    • You are able to sit for the duration of the exam without leaving the room
    • You have a quiet walled space to sit your exam with a closed door
    • You have access to a computer that does not have firewall or VPN restriction.

    For more information, if you are unsure of how to take an exam (remote or in centre) visit the CIMA website.

    We’re here to help

    We hope we’ve provided you with some helpful information that can enable you to make the right decision. You could also watch our online whiteboard demo to get an idea of how you can do calculations in the calculation subjects eg. CIMA P1.

    Don't forget we, at Kaplan, are here to support you every step of the way, so if you need any help at any stage please get in touch with us.

  • Accounting returns to WorldSkills for 2021 cycle

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 03, 2020

    Finding the UK’s best trainee Accountant

    Kaplan are once again on the hunt for talented accountants to enter the Accountancy Technician Skills Competition in 2021.

    We’re delighted to announce that we will be launching the first official National Accounting competition, in conjunction with WorldSkills UK, as part of their 2021 cycle.

    This team competition, which is aimed at apprentices, is designed to reflect the role of an Accountant and demonstrate the standards that are expected in the world of finance.

    There will be qualifying heats with winners of these proceeding to the WorldSkills UK LIVE finals.

    WorldSkills UK LIVE is the UK’s largest skills, apprenticeships and careers event which takes place annually. Competitors in the National Accounting Competition will be expected to demonstrate a range of applicable skills and competencies relevant to their field.

    We know that we have incredibly talented apprentices and students at Kaplan, so we want them to show off what they know to the rest of the country. There will be students from many different training providers, so it’s a great opportunity to meet others and share knowledge.

    As this is a team competition for up to 3 members, you may want to discuss this with your employer and colleagues early, to ensure you have sufficient time to get a team together and enter. Likewise, if you are an employer or an education institute, it’s worth considering if you have any apprentices/students you’d like to consider discussing this with in preparation for 2021’s competition.

    If your team makes it through to the National Qualifiers, you’ll go on to the National Finals held at WorldSkills UK LIVE in November 2021. Dates for our qualifiers are yet to be announced, so keep an eye out for updates.

    We hope apprentices and students alike will see this as an opportunity to display their talents to the rest of the country and compete to be recognised as the best young accounting minds in the country.

    Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director, Kaplan

    We’ll be making further announcements in the New Year about entry requirements, registration deadlines and our regional heat dates and structure. Keep an eye out for further news, and for more information check out the Worldskills website.

    In the meantime, if you have a team in mind from your organisation, school or college, please contact Stephen Cunningham to discuss arrangements: stephen.cunningham@kaplan.co.uk

  • What CIMA exemptions can I get?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 26, 2020

    If you’re considering studying CIMA, you may already have some qualifications that make you exempt for parts of the qualification. This means you may not have to sit all of the exams. Here are some exemptions that may apply to you.

    Who is eligible for CIMA exam exemptions?

    You may qualify for exam exemptions if you:

    • Are a graduate with a qualification listed in CIMA’s database of accredited programmes,
    • Have a degree related to the CIMA syllabus,
    • Are an Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) student or member,
    • Have an MBA or a Master's in Accounting,
    • Are a member or passed finalist of ICWAI or ICMAB, or a member of ICMAP,
    • Are studying or have completed a relevant qualification with another professional body.

    Studied AAT?

    If you’ve completed the AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting (Level 4 - the final level of AAT) you are exempt from having to sit the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting, certificate level, and can start at the Professional level.

    Undergraduate or graduate?

    If you have a degree in a related field such as accounting and finance, business administration, or economics you may be exempt from parts of the CIMA qualification.

    Here are some examples:

    With an accounting or finance degree you may be exempt from all certificate and operational level exams.

    If you have a business or management degree you may be exempt from all certificate level exams.

    You can check if your degree makes you eligible for exemptions with CIMA’s exemption search.

    Ready for CIMA?

    If you are interested in CIMA, exemptions or not, check out our CIMA pages for more information and how you can get studying straight away.

    Do, however, note that exemptions are awarded because you are deemed to already have the knowledge of the subject. It may be worth recapping some of the knowledge just to make sure.

    CIMA have published blueprints for all of the Professional syllabus, which will show you exactly what you should know at each subject.

    Sources:
    https://www.cimaglobal.com/Our-locations/UK/find-out-about-joining-us/AAT-Exemptions/
    https://www.cimaglobal.com/Starting-CIMA/Starting-CIMA/Entry-Routes/undergraduates-and-graduates/

  • Time management techniques to boost your CIMA studies

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 19, 2020

    We teamed up with CIMA to offer some thoughts and tips around reigniting your studies. For those who feel they may have lost their way a little during this tough time.

    Hopefully this will prompt you to think differently about managing time and provide you with a few tips to improve your study planning.

    The background

    We recently conducted a survey to find out how students were progressing with their studies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    We discovered that 68% of students felt that they were off track, and the majority of those surveyed said the reasons were either study load pressures, not enough time, or work and family commitments.

    These are recurring time management issues that we see so often.

    The best way to think about time

    Firstly, think about a timeline that covers past, present and future.

    The things that you’ve done before are in the past, and there for you to learn from. Time moves forward but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss the past.

    One of the key principles of learning is the process of reflection. So despite this forward motion, don’t forget your ability to go backwards.

    Plan backwards

    So you’ve got the timeline in your head, and it moves from the past to the future. However, planning, which is one of the key time-management skills, goes backwards. So start with your ultimate objective and go backwards.

    For example - if you want to qualify by 2023 then today you decide how you’re going to get there. You need to put milestones in and create a sense of reality around what’s achievable and what’s possible.

    So to qualify by 2023 ask yourself - “How much time is that? How many exams a year do I need to take and pass if I’m going to qualify by 2023?” That’s going to have to be 4 exams a year. Then ask “When do I need to start? 2021 - or how about today?”.

    By breaking it down like this, you’re turning what seems like an impossible journey into a series of manageable steps.

    Then you can break it down further. You know you need to start in 2021, but what are you going to do each month? So now you’re turning a year into chunks. You need to put into your diary the important dates and deadlines that you have to hit.

    If you want to sit four exams a year, your diary could look like this:

    January
    February
    March exam
    April
    May
    June exam
    July
    August
    September exam
    November or February Case Study

    In that case what do you need to do in January? How about - start studying 4th January, finish Chapter 1 by 11th January. Set yourself achievable targets.

    Then decide what you need to do right now. Maybe decide the best way to study, book a course and exam, and, if relevant, speak to your employer about the course.

    Making deadlines and planning helps break large tasks into manageable ones, and shows you the future. Work backwards from what you want, and stick to your targets and deadlines.

    Technology

    Use technology to help with your time management. Technology can improve productivity by helping you become more organised, making better use of your time, and reducing distractions.

    Firstly we should mention MyKaplan, it has a built in calendar and provides easy access to all of your study materials in a logical order broken down into small manageable chunks.

    Here are some others you might want to explore:

    Google calendar - ideal for targets, reminders, and general planning

    Trello - productivity app that can help you become more organised

    Myhomework student planner - track assignments and manage deadlines

    Remember the milk - great tool for “to do” lists

    Stay focussed - a Google Chrome extension that blocks distractions

    Focus keeper - POMODORA app that links to Trello

    Prioritisation

    Prioritising is about identifying what’s most important. Sometimes it’s hard as many things can seem equally important, but you can usually break things down using these 4 terms - “urgent”, “not urgent”, “important”, “not important”.

    So:

    Important and urgent? Do it now.

    Ask yourself if you could have foreseen this and planned your studies differently. Did it become urgent because you procrastinated?

    Important but not urgent? Decide - schedule a time to do it.

    These are activities that help you achieve your goals, and complete important work.

    Not important but urgent? Delegate or push back

    These are tasks that prevent you from achieving your goals. Sometimes you need to say no.

    Not important and not urgent? Delete it.

    These activities are just a distraction and can be ignored whilst you have much more important and urgent tasks.

    Getting your priorities right

    Many of us spend too much time on what is urgent, but not enough time on what is important.

    The one that’s really important for time management is “important but not urgent”. This is where your planning skills are essential. For example - you don’t need to book your exam today, therefore it’s not urgent, but it’s really important.

    You definitely need to book your exam at some point, so make sure you put it in your planner as a “to do” on a specific date.

    Many students feel that they need to get to a certain level of knowledge or competency before they book their exam, and if you don’t set a date, then you may feel that you’re never ready for the exam.

    Booking on a certain date will give you a target to aim for and will hopefully encourage you to put the work in to get to the point where you feel ready for it.

    Procrastination - what’s stopping you?

    Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing something that you should do. We all do this at one time or another. And when we find something hard it’s very easy to procrastinate.

    How to overcome procrastination:

    Recognise that you’re doing it. Admit to yourself that tidying your bottom drawer is actually a delaying tactic, distracting you from study.

    Ask yourself why? Why are you procrastinating? Find the root cause and tackle it. If it’s a subject you're struggling with, reach out for some help.

    Break down the work into smaller chunks. Make the studying more manageable and easier to digest.

    Plan and commit. Put your study into your planner and commit to doing it.

    Reward yourself. For every chunk of study make sure you have a reward at the end of it. This will give you something to look forward to after your hard work.

    Create a habit. Procrastination is a bad habit, and it’s easy to fall into bad habits. Apply the two-minute rule to help break bad habits. So if you can study that subject you hate for two minutes, you can then do it for four minutes, then six, and so on.

    You don’t have to spend hours and hours on study, but make sure the time you spend is worthwhile.

    Resources

    Finally, to help we have some resources that you can use to help with time management:

    Kaplan Study Planner - you can timetable your studies using the planner over a 12 week period. (see example below)

    Revision and Exam Preparation Guidance - gives you hints and tips on how to get the best out of your revision, helping you spend your revision time wisely.

    Kaplan Study planner

    This piece summarises some of the main points raised on a webinar hosted by Clancy Peiris, Senior Learning Development Manager at CIMA, and led by Kaplan’s Head of Learning, Stuart Pedley Smith, and Mark Foley, CIMA’s Director of Relationship Programmes. Watch the full recording online.

  • What does a senior staff accountant do?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 12, 2020

    A senior staff accountant is a step up from a junior accountant as they don’t carry out administrative tasks such as: data gathering, updating journals, or balance sheet population.

    They are much more likely to take ownership of reporting costs, productivity, margins and expenditures.

    Main responsibilities

    A senior staff accountants role is varied and presents lots of exposure to a company's financial inner workings. The main areas of responsibility are:

    • Analysing complex financial reports and records
    • Making recommendations based on analysis and status of reserves, assets and expenditures
    • Reviewing journal entries of junior accountants to make sure that they are accurate
    • Training and mentoring junior staff
    • Performing variance analyses and preparing account reconciliations
    • Assisting with financial and tax audits
    • Documenting and monitoring internal controls
    • Coordinating complex accounting projects and initiatives with other members of the accounting and finance team, or with other departments.

    What skills do senior staff accountants need to have?

    A senior staff accountant needs to be able to demonstrate that they have expert knowledge of accounting concepts and familiarity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). They will also need to be able to grasp company financial policies and protocols.

    If you want to excel as a senior staff accountant you will also need to be able to show that you are:

    • Highly detail-oriented
    • Incredibly organised
    • Able to meet a constant stream of deadlines
    • Able to prove that you can work both independently and collaboratively with different levels of employees
    • Skilled in analysing and problem-solving
    • Familiar with accounting software and programs

    How can I qualify to become a senior staff accountant?

    Completing the AAT qualifications (Foundation through to Professional) would certainly put you in a strong position to become qualified to work in this role - in the eyes of an employer. Also the ACCA, ACA and CIMA qualifications would more than give your cv a boost if you are looking to pursue this career.**

    If you are coming to CIMA, ACCA or ACA with little prior qualifications you could begin with the ACCA or ACA foundation qualification, or the CIMA Certificate.

    What can a senior staff accountant earn?

    In the UK, a senior staff accountant earns, on average, £45,337 a year*, but that can easily go up to over £65,000 a year depending on experience and location.

    Interested in becoming a senior staff accountant?

    If you’re wanting to further your accounting career, you need to consider completing ACCA, ACA or CIMA to get to the next level. If you’re brand new to accountancy you may want to consider AAT.

    We have plenty of flexible study methods to choose from so you can fit studying around your work. Who knows where it could take you?

    *glassdoor.co.uk March 2020
    **prospects.co.uk

  • How long does it take to become FCCA?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 29, 2020

    FCCA stands for Fellow Member of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. So what’s the significance of becoming a member and how long does it take?

    You can become an FCCA after 5 years of continuous membership of ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), by paying your annual subscriptions and meeting the CPD requirements each year.

    What’s the benefit of becoming a Fellow?

    It’s a significant point to reach in your career and the letters have real significance for those in accountancy and finance.

    It shows employers that you have extensive experience and have made a long-term commitment to being professional and ethical. Fellows can replace the designatory letters ‘FCCA’ after their name in place of ACCA.

    As well as the prestige, achieving the FCCA milestone in your career can open doors with big firms at an international level. Unlike a university degree or MBA, this IFAC compliant qualification places a lot of focus on practical applications and experience in international accounting and auditing standards.

    When can I become a Fellow?

    Once you’ve passed all your exams in the final level of the ACCA course, completed your 3-year Professional Experience Requirements (PER), and become a member of ACCA, you can then start working towards becoming an FCCA.

    How do I become a Fellow?

    There isn’t a formal application process so ACCA will let you know when you qualify. They track your progress and will send you a letter confirming FCCA status once you’ve met their requirements ie: fully paid up and submitted CPD reports for 5 years.

    Interested in ACCA?

    If you’d like to reach the prestigious level of FCCA, have a look at our ACCA pages for more information about how to start your ACCA journey.

    Sources:
    https://www.accaglobal.com/ie/en/member/membership/fellowship.html
    https://www.accaglobal.com/hk/en/qualifications/why-acca/membership.html

  • How to pass your CIMA Strategic case study exam

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 15, 2020

    Written by Kim Lawley, Tutor, and Katie Collins, CIMA Product Manager

    This blog has been developed to set you up for your CIMA Strategic case study exam, so you can be in the best possible position to pass.

    The level of the exam

    One thing that really throws students is the level of the exam.

    Remember at Operational Case Study (OCS) you are a finance assistant and at Management Case Study (MCS) you are a finance manager. At Strategic Case Study (SCS), however, you are one step higher to reflect the level of your studies. So you need to think strategically, as an advisor to the board.

    This means that you are trying to identify what the company should be doing, and why it should be doing it - really adding value. Remember - value adding information and offering advice is what you are paid to do.

    At the early stages of the course, many people tend to explain how the company should be doing things. As a (close to) board level employee you will have more junior staff to work out the “how”, so make sure in your exam you focus on the “what” and the “why”.

    Industry Research

    In previous exams and previous sittings, rumour had it that students could pass purely from the material that CIMA gave them. More recently, however, CIMA have emphasised that students can add examples from real life to add depth and insight to their answers.

    This doesn’t mean that you need to know everything about the industry the pre-seen information operates in, you just need to have some knowledge of the industry. Just imagine that you are preparing for a high level job interview and research accordingly.

    How is the exam different from earlier ones?

    You can argue that Operational and Management case study exams are extensions of the objective test subjects and integrate all the technical knowledge. But Strategic Case Study is very different.

    During the exam process you are expected to advise, recommend, and evaluate. This takes a higher level thought process. Remember that this is your final step to being fully exam qualified, so it will require a bit more from you.

    The key difference at Strategic level is you need to be able to understand and apply theories and techniques, as well as really adding the all important “value". If you rely on memory alone you are unlikely to be successful, and that idea has to flow through to the case study exam.

    How would it work in real life?

    Something that a previous student of mine said will always remain with me, and it resonates with me for this exam. The student was having problems with the thought processes. He told me the way he got through the exam and I now pass this advice on to you.

    When he was doing questions/mock exams, he tried to imagine that his boss was opposite him and had asked him a question. He then had to answer that question and this is where the key point lies.

    So if you are explaining something to your boss, will they want you to say “Oh, Michael Porter said this” or “JSW said this”? No. What they want is for you to tell them what and why, clearly and concisely – that’s the focus you need in this exam. CIMA have said that the exams are meant to be like a job interview so think of it as just that.

    So what should you do to pass?

    Here’s how we suggest you approach the pre-seen.

    When you start your analysis you should think about the scenario (with a little structure such as PEST/Porter’s five forces) to try and gain an understanding of the following:

    What could affect the business?

    How could it affect the business?

    What can the business do about it?

    By doing that you can see that a story can be created. For example:

    • What strategy should a company adopt and why?
    • How will they fund that strategy?
    • What would the investors think? Would they resist?
    • How will it be communicated?

    There can, of course, be many variants of the story and you won’t be able to predict every one, but what you can do is take previous exams and see what has come up.

    The method we suggest is to take two past sittings and look at all the variants for them. Don’t try and answer them, just think how they could be applied to your pre-seen material and how you would handle them if they were.

    Then you will, hopefully, have covered just about anything that can come up.

    Remember if you do one of our Kaplan courses we will prepare you for your exam in the form of practice workbooks based on your pre-seen as well as marked exams with individual feedback. We are the only official provider of CIMA approved material so will put you in the best possible position to pass this final exam.

    We are here to support you every step of the way so if we can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our teams.

    On behalf of all of us at Kaplan we wish you luck for your strategic case exam and all the best for your future careers, hopefully as an exam qualified CIMA accountant.

  • How to become a treasury manager

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 15, 2020

    Treasury management can be a very rewarding and interesting career, ideal for those who want to shape the future of an organisation’s financial strategy.

    Sounds like something you’d be interested in? Here’s some more information to help you decide if it’s for you.

    What does a treasury manager do?

    Treasury managers are essential in providing financing and treasury advice. In many cases they manage the short term investment portfolio, ensuring that cash flow is maintained efficiently.

    The role may include:

    • managing day-to-day treasury activities to meet the financial obligations of the organisation
    • performing duties related to cash flow, borrowings, debt, and capital management
    • allocating cash balances
    • maintaining investment records
    • preparing expense and earning forecasts
    • ensuring policies and procedures meet the organisation's objectives, needs, and regulatory body requirements
    • designing and proposing treasury policies and procedures
    • determining procurement of funds
    • monitoring investments and collections

    A treasury manager will also manage a team so will action personnel and HR duties.

    How much can a treasury manager earn?

    As with most management positions, a treasury manager can expect a pretty good salary. The UK average for this role is £67,708* per year but can vary depending on location and experience. London salaries for this position are closer to £80,000-£100,000 per year, and senior positions can command salaries in excess of £150,000** per year.

    What skills do I need to become a treasury manager?

    You will need to have strong planning and analysis skills, and experience with the way corporations raise, hold, manage, borrow, and invest cash. You’ll also need the ability to thrive in a business partner environment and have proven experience of explaining financial figures to key stakeholders such as the Head of Treasury. So you’ll also need to be personable and have strong communication skills.

    Top skills for treasury managers:

    • good with numbers
    • problem solving
    • good at strategic thinking and planning
    • curious about the wider business with a desire to be in a pivotal role
    • open to variety and challenge
    • attention to detail
    • driven, hardworking and self-motivating
    • outgoing and sociable
    • good communication
    • confident to work with people at all levels and from different fields
    • financial risk averse and confident in handling risk

    What qualifications do I need to be a treasury manager?

    You will need to have a degree in a relevant field - such as accountancy, business studies, economics, maths, or finance.

    You could also undertake a Financial Services Apprenticeship, which includes the Diploma in Treasury Management by the Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT). For more details please see our blog on the subject.

    Alternatively, an accountancy qualification such as ACCA is ideal as it is closely linked with treasury - especially the financial reporting and financial management exams.

    After ACCA, you will also need to have passed professional qualifications administered by the Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT).

    Interested in treasury, or ready for your next career move?

    Whether you’re already on your path to become a treasury manager or just starting out, have a look at our Apprenticeship Standard page for the Financial Services Professional, or the ACCA pages for more information.

    *https://www.reed.co.uk/average-salary/average-treasury-manager-salary
    **https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/corporate-treasurer

  • How to become a CFO

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 08, 2020

    A chief financial officer, or CFO, is a great role to aspire to for anyone who works in finance. It’s one of the elite positions in any company, and usually commands a large salary.

    So what is a CFO, and what is the path to becoming one?

    What does a CFO do?

    A CFO is responsible for the financial planning and record keeping of a company, as well as managing financial risk.

    They report to the company’s higher management - usually the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), plus board members. The CFO is one of the highest positions in large companies.

    Generally, businesses with less than £10 Million in yearly revenue do not have a real need for a CFO role. For a company to require a CFO they will usually be much larger and more well established.

    Responsibilities of a CFO may include:

    • Managing the financial actions of a company
    • Tracking cash flow
    • Financial Planning
    • Analysing the company’s financial strengths and weaknesses
    • Proposing corrective actions where appropriate
    • Ensuring that financial reports are accurate and completed in a timely manner
    • Dealing with investors
    • Devising a company’s strategic direction
    • Making announcements on financial performance - both positive and negative

    What does a CFO earn?

    Depending on the size of the company, the salary can vary. However, you may expect to be earning over £100,000* a year, with some CFO salaries reaching up to £1million.

    Large multinational companies hire outstanding financial experts as CFOs and offer very attractive salaries.

    What qualifications and experience are needed to become a CFO?

    It’ll probably come as no surprise to hear that you need a lot of experience to reach CFO level. It’s definitely not a role you can take on straight after school or university.

    Most CFOs will have an educational background in finance, business, economics or management. A typical route would be to do a bachelors and masters degree in accounting or other finance-related studies, alongside a professional finance qualification, such as ACCA or CIMA.

    While education and the relevant qualifications are all-important, the quality of your working experience and professional track record are the best tools for potential CFOs.

    Most CFOs are recruited from within, so giving years of hard work and loyalty to one company can go a long way.

    There used to be quite a rigid path for CFOs - going from accounts assistant to controller and treasurer, then on to CFO - but modern times call for modern CFOs.

    There are opportunities to expand your experience in sales or operations into finance. The modern CFO needs a breadth of experience - they need to understand, and have experience, company-wide.

    No matter what your background or education, the role of CFO is not one to take on lightly. Immensely rewarding, but the financial weight of a company is on your shoulders.

    As a CFO you will hopefully have a very successful career at the top of the ladder, but a huge amount of responsibility and expectation would lie with you.

    Ready to boost your career potential?

    If CFO is your dream role, you’ll need to make sure you have the right qualifications. Check out our ACCA, CIMA or Banking and Finance qualifications for more information and insight into what is needed to be successful in finance.

    *https://www.roberthalf.co.uk/salary-guide/accounting-finance/chief-financial-officer-salaries

  • AAT: Study from home, work from home

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 08, 2020

    A great career, from the comfort of your own home.

    As Christmas fast approaches it won’t not be long before those ‘new year’ plans start to dominate our thoughts. And with this year’s events, many will consider what a career in the ‘new world’ will look like.

    For an increasing amount of people, that career will take place at home.

    Luckily, with the study method options and courses we offer, there are many options that suit this preference.

    Here we detail some of the home based career options that are available.

    Accountancy qualifications

    We offer the perfect qualifications to get your foot into the door of the accountancy world. This largely comes in the form of our AAT qualifications.

    AAT is one of the most popular accounting qualifications out there. You don’t need any previous qualifications or accountancy experience to begin studying, and it provides all the foundational accountancy principles to get you started.

    Anyone, from school leavers to career changers, can start the qualification.

    We have many distant learning study options for those wanting to qualify from home - start to finish.

    Live Online

    Live Online is our study method that offers the structure of a traditional classroom but with the flexibility of studying from home. You can join timetabled live lectures online, and talk to tutors during the class for live feedback.

    And all our lectures are recorded, so if you miss one you can catch up, or re-watch classes for extra revision.

    Ideal for those wanting to replicate the classroom experience at home.

    OnDemand

    Similar to Live Online but offering a more responsive and bespoke approach, we have OnDemand.

    It’s an award-winning, flexible, online study option that uses a variety of learning formats such as bite-sized tutor-led lectures, and activities, to link topics together. It’s all designed to help you stay motivated.

    Exams from home

    Not only can you study your courses from home but, due to distancing rules, there are now options for students to take exams remotely too.

    For more information please see our other articles on the subject.

    Home-based careers

    So, you’ve picked your course and you’re getting on with it, and now you have one eye on a career. Here are just a couple of options that you could conduct from home.

    Bookkeeping - Bookkeepers can be very rewarding, and the field is constantly evolving. They will typically: maintain financial records, problem solve, and account for transactions. Their skills are always in demand.

    You could be self employed in this role, or work for a company.

    Self employed accountant - Accountants are responsible for recording, summarising and reporting a company's financial transactions. They produce regular financial statements to help show the position of the business. Qualified Financial Accountants can earn around £40,000*, which rises with experience.

    This is just a drop in the ocean when it comes to career options.

    With the world adapting to a new reality, there are more home based roles emerging for those with accountancy skills.

    Once you start to search online you will see how employable you become once qualified.

    When you’re ready, feel free to visit our qualifications pages.

    *https://neuvoo.co.uk/salary/?job=Accountant%20Chartered%20Accountant

  • Safety first: Positive feedback as we resume centre exams

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 06, 2020

    Your safety is our priority. We've introduced numerous measures to our centres to ensure they meet today’s requirements.

    This means we’re now able to offer exams at a reduced capacity so you can get your studies back on track and follow your career aspirations.

    Across all our centres, the response has been fantastic so far. We hope this reflects how seriously we are taking your safety. Here are just a few:

    The experience was good, lots of measures in place for Covid and the Kaplan team I met were very helpful.

    - Learner from our Cambridge centre

    The staff were very clear on the instructions and made you feel at ease.

    - Learner from our Leeds centre

    The centre as well organized, as usual, safe and very clear about the social distance.

    - Learner from our London Islington centre

    Given the current circumstances I was extremely nervous to sit my exam under the new conditions. However, everyone made me feel so comfortable and the staff are always so kind and polite. I will definitely recommend Kaplan to anyone looking at doing their exams or wanting to sit an exam.

    - Learner from our Manchester centre

    For more information on what precautions we have put in place please check out our snappy explainer video:

  • Adapting to change: addressing concerns around the ‘new normal’

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 01, 2020

    7 months later and we are STILL online. Who would’ve thought that we’d ever get used to all this change?

    Whilst it seemed daunting at first, many of my students have gotten used to the ‘new norm’ that is online learning. Shockingly, they admitted the best thing about it is the fact they can get out of bed at 5 to 9 and be ready to start their day.

    However, there are still a few concerns around all the changes that are happening right now, so I’d like to address some of them.

    Concerns around exams

    The ICAEW provide clear guidance on their website. It details the requirements each student will need to complete in order to sit their exams from home. This includes checking: the internet quality, the ability to run the software, and detailed guidance about what is/is not allowed on the day of the exam.

    I would strongly recommend that the students who are considering sitting exams from home should read through the ICAEW guidance before booking their exams.

    Your feedback

    Feedback from students who have completed their exams from home has been very positive. Many of them preferred the less stressful environment, compared to being in a test centre, and have developed ways to make it work for them.

    For instance, some of my students - who live in flats - printed outdoor signs to inform their neighbours that they are sitting an exam and to ‘please keep the noise down’.

    I would recommend letting whoever you live with know the exact timing of your exam so that they do not make any noise during this period.

    If sitting the exam from home does not suit you, then there are still a number of test centres available to sit the exam. However, double check your exam centre rules as some centres have stricter rules in place than others.

    Extra precautions for centre exams

    Kaplan have taken extra precautions. There will now be a one way system, compulsory mask wearing for students and tutors, and an abundance of sanitizer and wipes available.

    Staff will be wearing a visor, and students will have the choice of whether they would like to wear a mask once inside or not. The layout of our rooms have now changed and the tables are separated from each other.

    Feedback has been positive already, and once people get used to the new way of Kaplan life, they quickly adapt to it.

    Screen time

    Whilst a lot of my students have become used to online teaching and don’t mind it as much as they did back in March, they are still struggling to limit themselves in terms of the amount of screen time they have.

    Too much screen time can cause a lot of negative issues such as procrastination, headaches, fatigue, impact on your eye site, and worst of all having to spend more time doing your revision due to the lack of focus and distractions.

    Hints to avoid too much screen time

    Monitor your screen time – on most phones you have the ability to monitor how much you are using your phone throughout the day and you can use the data to compare it to previous weeks/days. You can also set yourself limits where your phone will notify you that you’ve reached your screen time for the day and won’t allow you to use certain apps as a result.

    Delete/log out of social media apps – it is very easy to fall down the social media rabbit hole during the day and distract you from your revision. A tip could be to delete/log out of the app and either re-download it in the evening or go on it from another device. I tried this myself and it worked wonders.

    Breaks - When a tutor sets breaks/lunch make sure you get away from your laptop screen and try to go outside or to another room. It’s very common for students to go from one screen straight onto the next without even moving from their chair! Make sure we are getting up and doing a bit of exercise at the same time as taking our eyes off our beloved screens.

    I hope this provides some assurance and context around these odd and challenging times we live in. Be kind to yourself and take things one day at a time. Do what works for you.

  • 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.

  • How KAAP is benefitting our apprentices

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 28, 2021

    In December 2020 we held our latest Kaplan Apprenticeship Advisory Panel, which is an open forum that explores ways to refine and improve our apprenticeship programmes.

    The panel is made up of apprentices and senior apprenticeship staff members at Kaplan, and the discussion is honest, open and informal. December’s meeting was held online and was clearly structured to enable us to cover a lot of ground.

    Here’s a breakdown of each section.

    Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) update

    Our Quality and Equality Manager, Sarah Powell, revealed what Kaplan is doing for EDI. She detailed the feedback taken onboard after the last KAAP meeting and actions taken in response.

    Here are some of the actions mentioned:

    We plan to promote EDI through…

    • Being more transparent with data and what we are doing to improve
    • Increasing our presence at EDI events (i.e. BAME apprenticeship awards)
    • Having an EDI social calendar
    • Speaking to clients about what is important to them in relation to this.
    • Gaining more insight from our students.

    Website improvements workshop

    Following this we had an interactive session with our website team. Using the latest in online collaborative tech our web team conducted a live feedback exercise to get a stronger insight into the apprentices’ user journey on our site.

    For context, the team created a story of a fictional apprentice ‘Claire’, and how she decided to embark on her apprenticeship. It explored: where she might look for information, how she was feeling throughout the application, how she was feeling during her apprenticeship.

    The aim of this session was to ensure that our site can become more intuitive at every stage of our learners’ development with Kaplan. This is an ongoing project and we should see the fruits of this labour very soon.

    End Point Assessments feedback

    At the end of the session Apprenticeships Partnerships Director, Jenny Pelling, facilitated questions and feedback directly from a few of our current apprentices. This mainly centred around EPAs.

    Jenny invited feedback by posing the question ‘What would you like to see throughout your EPA journey?’.

    The apprentices discussed areas they felt they could use more support around, in relation to their EPAs, such as portfolios.

    Although they appreciated that they received much information about the EPAs, in the early stages of their programmes, they felt they didn’t absorb all of it at the time as their focus was elsewhere.

    Then there was a discussion around possible solutions, such as more support in the form of phonecall at a relevant time to help them feel better prepared, and improving the timing of feedback so that they have enough time to action it.

    National Apprenticeship week 2021

    Finally, and to wrap up, the panel acknowledged the forthcoming NAW in February 2021. We offered up potential ideas around what we could do to make the next KAAP relevant to it.

    Some thoughts were suggested around hosting a webinar with polls and questions, a Q&A panel, and ensuring it would be relevant to school and college leavers considering an apprenticeship. Following this we have decided to host an event during National Apprenticeship Week.

    Register for Kaplan Introduces: Kaplan Apprenticeship Advisory Panel - Build the Future

    If you are passionate about Apprenticeships and how they can make a difference in the professions, visit our advisory panel web page for more information. 

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