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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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