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info_outline Classroom courses and CBEs are running from our centres and will gradually return to full capacity with additional measures to minimise the spread of the virus. See our COVID pages for details.

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  • What part does sustainability play in accounting?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 16, 2021

    Sustainability: What part does it play in accounting?

    Our host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning here at Kaplan, helps tackle the subject of sustainability within the world of accounting.

    Kaplan’s Learn Better podcast covers topical subjects to support our past, present and future learners to succeed in both their studies and careers.

    This week Richard Barker, Professor of Accounting at Oxford University, joins us to explore sustainability. With a lot of confusion around sustainability, and what it really means, this episode will help provide clarity on what it is and why it is important to employees and businesses.

    We delve further into the role sustainability plays in society, how knowledge of this growth space could help accelerate your career, and how in this space you can utilise any wider skillsets gained from other degree subjects alongside your accounting qualification.

    Key Topics:

    • What is sustainability?
    • Financial vs Sustainability reporting
    • New generation career opportunities
    • Sustainability reporting's role in society
    • Recommended reading

    Tune in now to join the discussion

  • WorldSkills UK finals - who will take first place?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 13, 2021

    The finalists for the WorldSkills UK Accounting Technician competition have been announced.

    WorldSkills supports young people across the world via competitions-based training. This particular competition has been designed by Kaplan tutors to ‘reflect the role of an Accountant and the standards that are expected within the financial sector’.

    Following the qualifiers held in July, four teams will be moving on to the final in our Accounting Technician competition: Riverside College, Lloyds Team 2, City of Glasgow College and LIFO the Party (Bridgend College).

    In the next stage, to help the teams prepare and practise for the finals, they will take part in a "development day". The aim of this day is to cover relevant topics that they'll face in the finals.

    The finals will take place in November, where the four teams will come together to compete for 1st place. They will have 4 hours to work through a case study, which they will then present back to the judges.

    We'd like to congratulate, thank, and recognise all of the teams who entered and have been a part of this year's competition. It's been great to see everyone overcome the virtual challenges and still put in a huge effort to make the competition a success.

    Keep your eyes peeled for the confirmation of the date for the UK LIVE finals, and for more information about the Worldskills competitions check out their website.

  • Kaplan shortlisted 3 times for the 2021 Learning Tech Awards

    by Sharon Cooper | Sep 10, 2021

    After one of the most challenging years in our history, we have been shortlisted 3 times for the Learning Tech awards.

    The Learning Technology awards represent one of the most prestigious international awards within the learning sector, so we’re very humbled to be recognised for another year.

    As stated on their website:

    [The Learning Technology Awards] recognise the commitment, enthusiasm and passion for learning technologies across the world. Finalists are selected by our independent judging panel of experts organised by the eLearning Network.

    We have been shortlisted for the following:

    The best digital learning transformation programme implemented in response to COVID-19.

    This submission detailed how we introduced two new digital programmes during the pandemic, to ensure our learners could continue to study and move forward in their professional careers.

    The best learning technologies project - private sector

    This nomination is for the creation of our digital training solutions with input from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). With them, we created 2 digital pathways for finance professionals to develop their Data Analytics skills.

    Best learning game

    This nomination was for the educational business game we created alongside Lloyds Banking Group and Interpretive. The game was a unique experience designed for apprentices to develop work-place skills.

    Good luck to all of the nominees! The ceremony will be held on the 17th November. For more information and the full shortlist visit their page.

  • How the HMRC are ‘making tax digital’

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 02, 2021

    Our Senior Tax Lecturer, Neil Da Costa, gives an overview of the new changes to the tax system - designed to make them more digital friendly.

    HMRC has introduced the ‘Making Tax Digital’ Initiative in order to make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right and keep on top of their affairs.

    This follows HMRC’s introduction of personal tax accounts in 2015, which allow individuals to manage their personal tax online and now they plan on extending this initiative to other taxes.

    Here is a breakdown of some of the main changes that will happen.

    Making tax digital for VAT

    Since 2019, VAT registered businesses with a turnover of more than £85,000 have been required to keep digital records and submit digital VAT returns. With regard to businesses who have a turnover of less than £85,000, they will have to use MTD from April 2022.

    Businesses will have to maintain digital records which will include all the current VAT supporting documentation such as the business name and address, VAT number, time of supply or tax point and rate of VAT charged. In addition, businesses can claim back VAT on assets like machinery, computers and furniture so digital records of assets bought also need to be maintained.

    When preparing the quarterly VAT returns, it is necessary to adjust for issues such as errors or mistakes discovered in previous returns etc. or reverse charge transactions relating to overseas supplies so digital records need to be maintained as well.

    If the business is part of a special scheme such as the retail or flat rate schemes, then daily gross takings need to be maintained.

    Software enabling MTD

    HMRC does not provide the required software, so businesses will initially use spreadsheets to summarise the VAT transactions and calculate the amount payable. The business then needs ‘bridging software’ to convert the records into the correct submission format.

    The bridging software from companies such as Xero, QuickBooks, Sage, Zoho and FreshBooks will then pull the information from the spreadsheets which will need to be preserved for at least six years.

    The government estimated these costs to the small businesses at £70 a year for four years or £280 but the ICAEW estimated the cost at £1,250.

    Making tax digital for sole traders

    Self-employed individuals have to use MTD from April 2023 so will have to keep records digitally and submit income tax updates to HMRC. This will move self-employed tax to a real time system which lets you see how much income tax you owe as you go.

    Once the digital records have been submitted for the entire year, the final report for the accounting period is computed and the sole trader can claim any capital allowances or loss relief.

    Making tax digital for landlords

    Landlords with rental income of more than £10,000 are also required to use MTD from April 2023 and will also have to keep records digitally and submit income tax updates to HMRC. This will also move landlords to a real time system which lets you see how much income tax you owe as you go.

    MTD pilot scheme for sole traders and landlords

    Sole traders and landlords have the option to join the digital returns pilot scheme now.

    Since 2019, VAT registered businesses with a turnover of more than £85,000 have been required to keep digital records and submit digital VAT returns. With regard to businesses who have a turnover of less than £85,000, they will have to use MTD from April 2022.


    This is a major shake up to the tax system and we will all have to be used to digital records. Eventually, paper records will not meet the legal requirements.

    To find out more about our tax related courses please visit our tax qualification pages.

    Neil Da Costa is a Senior Tax Lecturer with Kaplan in London. He is the author of Advanced Tax Condensed which summarises the entire syllabus using memory joggers. 

    He is also a passionate advocate for mental wellness and diversity.

  • Diversity in accounting

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 02, 2021

    “Never underestimate your ability to have influence.”

    This week our host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of learning here at Kaplan, explores the topic of diversity within the accountancy profession.

    Kaplan’s learn better podcast covers topical subjects to support our past, present and future learners to succeed in both their studies and careers.

    Guest Alice Olafare, Co-found of New Gen Accountants (NGA), shares her experiences and what led her to co-founding the NGA community initiative. She discusses the challenges diverse candidates may face, the resources they can lean on for support, and the benefits of a diverse workforce for everyone.

    Together Stuart and Alice explore what diversity is, why it is important within the accounting profession, and how to champion it and give longevity to the movements that have taken place over the past year.

    Make it a movement, not a moment.

    - Alice Olafare, Co-founder of New Gen Accountants

    Key topics:

    • What is diversity?
    • New Gen Accountants community initiative
    • The benefits of a diverse workforce
    • How to champion diversity.

    Tune in now to find out more.

  • What we are doing to help you safely return to the classroom

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 19, 2021

    We give an update on the various things we’ve put in place to make our learners feel better about moving back into the classroom.

    In these times, it’s absolutely natural to feel unsettled about returning to our centres to attend a classroom course. We realise that everyone is at a different stage, in terms of their confidence in returning to a new normality.

    Some of our students will no doubt feel more confident than others, but we wanted to reassure everyone that we are doing everything that we can to make you feel safe.

    Your safety is our priority at Kaplan and our staff are here to support you every step of the way. Whilst we gradually start to increase our class capacity we will be implementing the following to keep the risk of spreading the virus as low as we reasonably can.

    We will be:

    • Running fewer physical classes overall to reduce the total volumes in the centre.

    • Staggering class start times to minimise congestion in shared spaces.

    • Limiting visitor numbers to centres, and only by prior arrangement.

    • Asking our students to wear masks when moving around the centre (however they can be removed when sat in classes or CBE suites).

    • Our tutors will be wearing face coverings when moving around the classroom and centre.

    • Our spaces will be kept well ventilated. We will be maintaining sanitation stations and undertaking additional cleaning protocols as well as clearly signposting good hygiene practices.

    • We are asking our staff to take regular lateral flow tests.

    • We display a Q-code for those using Track and Trace apps.

    Our staff in each centre are there to help you and to make you feel at ease. Our Student Experience teams and Tutors are here for you to discuss any concerns that you may have whilst you are in the centre.

    We realise that the idea of commuting again may be daunting for some. In order to ease this transition, why not think about trialling your route to the centre or bringing your own lunch if you want to avoid going out during busy lunchtimes?

    Finally, we can support you if you do test positive for Covid or are contacted via track and trace by providing you with the course recordings if you do have to isolate for a period of time.

    We hope all of these things we are putting in place will help to facilitate your return to the classroom. But if you continue to have any concerns about returning, please do share these thoughts with your employer.

    For more support and information on student wellbeing please visit our advice page, and take a look at our recent webinar on making the transition from remote working to the face to face environment.

  • ACCA: An investment that’s well worth it

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 12, 2021

    James Carew recently secured three ACCA awards: ACCA Gold Affiliate and first in the world for both Advanced Financial Management (AFM) and Advanced Performance Management (APM). Discover more about his experience studying ACCA and his top tips for success.

    I am currently working in industry as a Financial Analyst for Puffin Produce, they are a fresh produce company in west Wales.

    I really enjoy the data analytics and management accountant side of things, analysing accounts to proactively drive performance and looking forwards rather than just reporting. I feel this role makes a difference and I really enjoy it.

    Why data analytics?

    Towards the end of ACCA, more data analytics are involved, with the last four strategic papers being more tailored towards current conditions and the direction the world is moving in.

    I am much more interested in this than I am in accountancy practice roles. I enjoy looking at data and trying to identify trends.

    Data analytics is dynamic and it’s different every time. Presenting the data and helping people understand it to make strategic decisions motivates me. I like making a difference, understanding and contributing to other departments within the business.

    Studying LiveOnline during a pandemic

    My course was employer funded and they let me study two courses at the same time, which meant I could get through it quicker. I studied via LiveOnline (LO) as I’m not close to any Kaplan centres.

    When the pandemic started, I wasn't really affected too much, but it did become a lot harder to find the cut-off point between finishing work and starting studying as you’re always in the same space. I only had 4 exams left so I could see the finish line, so this was my motivation.

    Studying LO means you don’t have a support network in the same way as a classroom, so it’s important to rely on your tutor, find people in your company and speak to people on your course. It’s key to interact as much as possible.

    Studying Advanced Financial Management (AFM)

    AFM is a very maths-based paper, there are lots of calculations and understanding methods. It isn't just about learning these methods, but doing exam question practice and applying it to scenarios.

    I did a maths degree so I had the knowledge, but I would say definitely practice, buy a tuition kit, apply it to real world scenarios and work with your tutor.

    I had great tuition and used the complete exam kit, I fully recommend this as it’s really maths based. I also used the integrated workbook and then did all the exam kit questions.

    It’s painful, especially with such long questions, but it’s necessary and you need to carve out the time to do it. I recommend doing this early on, even in the first week, as it is vital to understand where you are going wrong as early as possible.

    Towards the final couple of weeks I’d just focus on the areas that have been highlighted as where you’re weakest and then work through these questions.

    Studying Advanced Performance Management (APM)

    This exam is the polar opposite of AFM, it’s more about the ideology of management accounting. You need to learn the bare bones of the subject, and apply it to real life scenarios.

    It’s more of the human side of accounting and performance management, how humans will respond, and how you can manage and motivate people.

    I thought I'd failed to be honest, but I suppose the key to this is question practice. You need to get into the mind frame of questions and what they are requiring you to say. As with AFM I think it is really important to do mock exams.

    This exam can be a pitfall to people like me with a mathematical brain as it’s more reasoning based and open ended. You need to elaborate on your answers and understand the topic and be able to apply it in different contexts.

    My tutor, Dan Simmonds, was brilliant and really made a difference. He teaches you what you need to know to apply these topics in the real world and this helps you to be ready for the exams.

    My honest thoughts on ACCA

    ACCA is really challenging, especially with studying LiveOnline.

    My recommendation is to group the exams together with a break in between. Work as hard as possible, get your head in it and then give yourself a good amount of time off.

    I had 12 weeks off between each exam and I really looked forward to this as I knew I’d get my life back for 12 weeks and it motivated me to get through it.

    It is a big commitment, I was doing 2-3 hours per evening for 8 weeks after work. This is a lot, but when you get your ACCA qualification, nobody can take it away from you.

    It’s an investment. Exams are the worst part, but in the end it’s well worth it.

    I had no experience before I started and Kaplan really guided me through it. The platform is amazing, the tutors are fantastic and the study materials are so useful for exams.

    Job security and salary is great once you’re ACCA qualified. Now I’m done with my studies, I’m looking to gain more experience in the working world.

    Interested in finding out more about ACCA?

    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.

  • Pushing yourself to a level you're happy with - student story

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 05, 2021

    Global prize winner, David Barker, was awarded the ACA Financial Management First place and the Howitt prize in March 2021. Find out how he overcame personal and logistical obstacles in his pursuit of success.

    Financial Management was the subject I’d found the most difficult as it was the most different from my day-to-day job. However, I enjoyed studying it the most. I liked that you’re applying it to real world situations.

    I was very surprised when I won the prize. I knew I had to work really hard for this subject, and felt like the exam went well, but I can’t believe I did SOO well!

    Balancing work, life and study

    It was really difficult and time intensive. Starting work at 7:45am and finishing at 5pm, going on to study for a couple of hours, and then getting up early on the weekends. However, I always made sure to give myself time to decompress in the evenings.

    I didn’t have a set routine as I prefer to take it day by day, but always had an overarching view of where I wanted to be at each stage before the exams.

    Kaplan’s guidance was great in terms of studying. I pretty much followed this to the letter and it was great.

    Don’t worry about doing 4-5 hours a night, do what suits you and just stay on track with what Kaplan says, it works!

    My main advice is practice, practice, practice. Do as many practice questions as you can, both open and closed books.

    My tactic was just to practice and then address any specific areas of weakness by working through the answers piece by piece.

    Overcoming stress

    I struggled with stress the few weeks before the exams. My company were really good, they let me take short notice leave and my workload lightened before exams. I felt my managers understood when they were coming up and supported me through the process.

    It’s ok to find the balance, to take time off if you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

    It’s a stressful time and It’s really important to only push yourself to a level you’re happy with.

    Mental health is a big thing for me, exams are a big trigger for my anxiety, so I really benefited from the support I had around me. My family, friends and girlfriend provided unbelievable amounts of support to me throughout the process, and I am so thankful as I couldn’t have done it without them. It’s so important to have a support network around you.

    Getting into accountancy

    I studied architecture at Uni, then worked in a call centre for a year and saved up money to either go and travel or find a job. I ended up teaching English in China for a year in Wuhan (before it was famous!) then moved to Massan in Korea.

    I was worried about finding a job when I first got back. I loved teaching, but the situation with teaching in the UK isn’t for me, so I went into accounting.

    My company, Sagars, is very keen on hiring people from different backgrounds, even without finance experience, and training them up then promoting internally. This brings a lot of different perspectives to the firm which means there’s a really great culture.

    The stereotype of “typical stuffy accountants” was proved not to be true at all, the people are all very friendly.

    Future ambitions

    I have two more professional exams left, one in summer and one just before Christmas. I will be taking Advanced next year and then the case study.

    I love working at Sagars and I much prefer working for a smaller practice where you feel part of the fabric of the company. Sagars have really made me feel important and there’s a great future here.

    The advantage with ACA is that once I’m qualified, there is the opportunity to work anywhere. In the future I'd also love to revisit the option of going back overseas and working in management accounting.

    Discover ACA

    If you're interested in studying ACA, please see our ACA pages for more information.

  • Why accountancy is the ideal career for school leavers

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 29, 2021

    If you’ve just left school, you might be wondering what your next steps will be. Maybe you’re unsure which path leads to a good career that pays well. It’s possible that accounting hasn’t crossed your mind, but let us tell you why it’s a great path, and how to get started.

    Accounting isn’t just maths and numbers

    There’s a lot more to accounting than just being able to add up. You’ll need to be able to talk to people and explain what you’re working on. If you’re good at communicating, and you’re organised, then you’re well on your way to have the skills needed to be an accountant.

    You don’t need a degree to get started

    There are no entry requirements to enrol on an entry level accounting course, such as AAT Foundation. You’ll need maths and English GSCEs, and a good grasp of IT, but you definitely don’t need a degree or A-Levels. If you’re not sure what level you’re at, you can take the AAT skillcheck test to find out.

    Qualify quickly

    The great thing about studying accountancy is that you can qualify relatively quickly, and work immediately in accounting. You can complete all three levels of AAT in under two years, so compared to a degree you’ll be done with your studies a lot quicker than most students.

    Learn and work at the same time

    You can easily fit your accounting studies around a full, or part, time job. Depending on which study method you choose, you don’t have to take time off work to learn. If you choose online learning, you can fit it in during lunch, or after work.

    Even classroom options are open to you, as there are lessons on the weekends. Have a look at our study methods to find out more, and see which one suits you best.

    You’ll always have our support

    If you choose to study with Kaplan you’ll be supported all the way, no matter which study method you choose. You’ll have access to tutors, academic support, and our student services team. You can email, call or use live chat - 7 days a week. We’re only interested in your success, so whether you have an academic question, or you need some support balancing your studies, we’re here to help.

    AAT opens doors to further qualifications

    AAT is the first qualification you can do to become an accountant, and from there you can go on to do ACCA or CIMA, or specialise in tax and do CTA or ATT. With further qualifications, you can earn more, and go into incredible job roles, anywhere in the world.

    Fancy earning £100k+ and living in Dubai? That’s completely possible with a higher level accounting qualification.

    Ready for your next step?

    If you’d like more information, have a look at our AAT pages to see what’s involved, and what study methods are available. If you’re worried about not being good at maths, read our blog: Do I need to be good at maths to study accountancy? to put your mind at ease.

  • Kaplan launches new podcast for students

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 22, 2021

    Featuring some of the best entrepreneurs and thinkers in the sector, and hosted by our very own Head of Learning Stuart Pedley-Smith, our new podcast launches in early August.

    In development since March this year, our podcast is created with our current students and future students in mind. It comes in the form of a relaxed, yet structured, interview and aims to help with: study tips, wellbeing and career information.

    Much care and consideration has gone into the selection of each guest and theme and you will see subjects covered such as:

    Sleep and study
    24 hours before an exam (what to do)
    How sustainability and accountancy are linked
    Diversity within accountancy and the professional services
    Accountancy around the world
    Apprenticeship vs University (which route?)

    And more!

    The guest selections are a combination of those who work for Kaplan and those outside - who work in companies around the world. From Oxford University to California to Colombia.

    You can listen right now and the podcast is available on all major podcast platforms.

    Subscribe and listen now.  

  • Is studying with an AAT training provider worth it?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 15, 2021

    AAT, or Association of Accounting Technicians, is a great place to start your accounting qualifications, and it’s possible to study alone without any support. But let us tell you about the benefits of studying with a training provider.


    By choosing to study with Kaplan, you can get expert tutor support seven days a week, and you can use Live Chat for an immediate response. We’re only happy when you succeed, so we’re here to support you all the way, no matter what.

    If you’ve got questions about a tricky topic, or you need support to balance your home and study life - there’ll always be someone to help.

    Expert tutors

    Studying alone can work for some, but by doing so you’ll miss out on the expertise from those who have actually worked in accounting and have insider knowledge of the field.

    When you study with a training provider, you receive direct teaching from tutors who know the subject and industry inside and out, and can focus your learning to areas that are likely to come up in your exams.

    They’re also there to help you with areas that you might find harder, and can explain them in a way that you’ll understand and retain.

    Study methods to suit your learning

    With a training provider such as Kaplan, you can choose the way you study. For AAT, Kaplan offers Classroom, Live Online, OnDemand and Distance Learning.

    They’re all designed to suit individual learning preferences - whether you like face-to-face learning, or to be left to work through the subjects at your own pace. No matter what, you get tutor support, online resources, and study materials as a minimum. We even have a quiz you can do to work out which study method will suit you best.

    Learn with others, face-to-face or online

    Depending on your study method, you’ll experience a different level of social interaction with your fellow students, but you’ll always be able to talk to them about the course.

    With online learning you can chat to your classmates via chat panels and forums. You can find out what they’re struggling with, and help them out, or ask questions about areas you’re finding hard, and get the answers you need.

    You can share revision hints and tips, or ways of learning tricky topics, as well as general conversation that doesn’t have to be all about accounting. Totally up to you.


    Studying can be hard, and adding it to an already busy work and home life can increase your stress levels. We want to make sure you’re coping with the work level and getting the most out of your course.

    There are times when we all need a little extra help and support so we have blogs and supportive information to help you at times when you need it. You can also reach out to tutors or student services for help. We want you to succeed, not struggle.

    Ready to start AAT with us?

    If we’ve managed to convince you that studying with a training provider is the best option, have a look at our AAT pages for more information about the course and the study methods available.

  • Do I need to be good at maths to study accountancy?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 08, 2021

    This could be the shortest blog in the world if we just said - no, you don’t need to be good at maths to study accountancy. But we thought you’d like to know why maths isn’t the be all and end all of being an accountant.

    There’s much more to accountancy than calculations, and you might already have the skills to make you great at it.

    What level of maths do I need then?

    To enrol on an entry level accounting course, such as AAT Foundation, you need a decent grasp of maths, preferably GCSE grade 9-4 (A*-C). So you don’t need to be a maths genius, or have a maths degree.

    What skills do I need to be an accountant?

    So we’ve established you don’t need incredibly sophisticated maths skills. But you will need to have good analytical skills, alongside an attention to detail. You’ll need to be able to spot anomalies and analyse why they could be there, and report to the business your findings.

    Good communication skills are also essential. You’ll have to be able to explain potentially complicated accounting in layman’s terms. The people you’ll be talking to might not completely understand the world of accountancy - it’s your job to make sure they comprehend what’s going on in their finances.

    Being organised is accountant 101. You’ll need to be able to keep track of multiple accounts, meet deadlines, and follow proper reporting procedures. You’ll need to be able to keep track of paperwork - one missing piece could cause massive delays for your business or client.

    Time management goes hand in hand with being organised. Financial reporting adheres to strict deadlines, so you can’t just put off something you don’t want to do, or take too long working on one issue. Hitting deadlines is something that will need to be second nature.

    Computer literacy and the ability to adapt to new software is very important too. When you study accounting you’ll learn about different software packages, but the business you go into may use something different. You’ll need to learn quickly and get to grips with their systems.

    Being proficient with spreadsheets is also a great skill to have - you might want to do a separate Excel course to make sure you’re comfortable with them.

    What can I earn as an accountant?

    Like any other career, it can depend on location and experience. But the average UK salary for an accountant is £42,500* per year. This can rise to well over £100,000 if you become a Chief Financial Officer - so a career in accounting can be rather lucrative.

    Interested in accounting?

    If you’re ready to find out more, have a look at AAT - it’s the start of a great accounting career.


  • WorldSkills National Qualifiers are almost here

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 08, 2021

    Apprentices across the UK will compete to secure a place in the WorldSkills UK LIVE finals.

    Kaplan values showcasing the talent of UK apprentices, as well as recognising their hard work. So we are extremely proud to be hosting the WorldSkills Accounting Technician competition this year.

    WorldSkills UK is an independent charity and a partnership between employers, education and governments who support young people across the world via competitions-based training, assessment and benchmarking.

    The Qualifiers for the National Accounting Technician competition are due to take place on Thursday 15th July and will be held via Zoom.

    The team competition is aimed at learners currently undertaking a Level 3 apprenticeship or higher, those with an equivalent qualification (e.g. HND in Accounting), or those who have completed one of these within the past 12 months.

    Designed by our industry expert Kaplan tutors, the competition looks to assess knowledge, practical skills and employability attributes of competitors. It also helps develop qualities valued by employers such as team work, problem solving, time management, judgment and working under pressure.

    A total of 16 made it through the initial stage and will be taking part in the Qualifiers in mid July.

    The qualifying teams are from Lloyds Banking Group, Oldham College, Lincoln College, Bridgend College, City of Glasgow College, and Riverside College.

    Each team will have two hours to complete a case study task and present it back to the three judges. The results will then be announced within a few weeks to see who will move forward to compete in the National Finals in November.

    We’ll be sharing further details following the results, so keep an eye out to see who will progress, and for the full details of the UK LIVE finals.

    For more information about WorldSkills UK and the competitions check out their website.

  • Building confidence - from call centre to business owner

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 01, 2021

    Through his studies, former Kaplan student Jack Swallow overcame personal challenges and developed a confidence which led to his current success. Discover more about his journey.

    For me, my biggest challenge was not having enough confidence.

    I wasn’t particularly ‘bright’ at school. I was more interested in sports, and later I worked in a call centre.

    It took a long time to build up my confidence. Even just speaking in front of people was a struggle. I remember not being able to physically speak in front of the CEO in my first finance job. It wasn’t until I started studying CIMA that things started to change.

    Studying with a provider like Kaplan gave me the skills to get through the exams. I passed all 15 exams, as it was then, in just 22 months - and this was the catalyst for me.

    From here I started noticing that when I spoke - people listened. This led to me having the confidence to lead teams, present to senior stakeholders. I wouldn’t have dared make eye contact with them previously. But over time, my confidence grew and I started to really enjoy it.

    Launching a new business

    Following this I launched a new business - Lead the Disruption. The company specialises in the borrowing of business books. It was inspired by the executives I met, and my interest in how they got their C-Suite positions.

    Luckily, everyone I approached was very forthcoming and although I did not realise the significance of it at the time, they all gave me a list of books to read! It was later I realised the correlation between books and executives. Soon after, I spotted a potential gap in the market.

    Memories of Kaplan

    My favourite memory of Kaplan dates back to being in Neil Da Costa’s class, when he was teaching us deferred tax.

    The textbook had around 100 pages on deferred tax, the lecture notes had about 20 pages on it. Neil came in after lunch, ginger beer in hand, and told us not to worry about the lecture notes.

    He then drew a single mind map that we needed to learn. One proforma and one page later – that was it! Neil was also noticeably confident – never was I in any doubt that he had not taught me what I needed to learn for the exam – and his confidence gave me confidence.

    This was especially useful during the ‘nervy’ period heading into the exam. But after this I knew I was going to pass before going into the exam.

    Jack’s key take-aways for other students

    I used to run a lot, but I always trained better than I raced. This bemused the university enough to send me to a sports psychologist. We found out that I was scared of racing my best, in case my best was not good enough. In other words - being scared to fail.

    This was an eye opener, and it started a process where I began to work on not being scared to fail. By embracing failure and not running away from it can allow you to see things differently.

    When you are scared of failing, almost any sign that something will not work is enough to get you to stop. Self-doubt gets in the way. When you are not scared of failing, you stop paying attention to these minor things and you start seeing solutions instead of problems.

    Final tips

    So, four things you need to take away are:

    • Do not be afraid to fail (easier said than done).
    • Start with the end in mind. You need to know where you are going.
    • Build your network. By knowing people who can help you, you are more likely to be successful.
    • Read lots and read widely.

    Model the success of other successful people. Subscribe to

    Study CIMA

    CIMA opens doors for many, personally and professionally. To find out more please visit our CIMA course pages.

  • How to become a bookkeeper

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 01, 2021

    Bookkeeping isn’t just about bills and invoices, and tracking numbers in spreadsheets. It’s about the flow of money and helping businesses to thrive. Here’s some information on how to get started.

    All businesses need bookkeepers as it’s the law to keep a record of financial transactions, but a bookkeeper is essential to keep track of where cash flows in and out of the business. This is the only way to know if the business can continue operating and turn a profit.

    So how do you get into this interesting and essential career?

    What qualifications do I need to be a bookkeeper?

    You don’t need to have a degree or any prior knowledge to start learning about bookkeeping. The most common route for someone new to accountancy is to study the AAT Professional qualification. This gives you a solid overview of accounting principles, with modules dedicated to bookkeeping and preparing accounts.

    AAT also has a shorter bookkeeping qualification which focuses on the core bookkeeping modules. This allows you to qualify in a shorter period, with the option to return to the full diploma at a later date.

    You could also do a three or five day ACA Practical Bookkeeping course. This provides the practical knowledge and experience of processing information and transactions.

    Can I start my own bookkeeping business?

    Absolutely. You can work in any business in-house, or you can set up on your own and be a sole trader, working for many different companies. You’ll need to make sure you have all the correct software in place to be able to do the job properly, and be able to explain clearly to potential clients what you can deliver.

    You’ll have to register your business with HMRC, manage your own taxes, and do all the usual tasks that anyone who is self-employed has to do.

    Do you need a license to be a bookkeeper in the UK?

    To be a bookkeeper you need to have a money laundering license, also known as AML - Anti Money Laundering. If you don’t have this you would be breaking the law if you start a bookkeeping business from home.

    License holders are offered a range of resources and guidance to help complying with your AML duties.

    You can apply for this at any time of year. Applications are processed within 28 days.

    How much can a bookkeeper earn?

    In-house bookkeepers earn between £27-30k a year*, whilst hourly rates are between £10-15 per hour**. But salaries and rates can depend on business, location and experience.

    Interested in bookkeeping?

    Bookkeeping is a rewarding career path and the field is constantly growing. Have a look at our bookkeeping courses for more information.


  • 5 reasons why the world needs accountants more than ever

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 25, 2021

    It’s pretty safe to assume that there’s a strong demand for healthcare providers and front line staff workers right now. Whilst this is very true, it’s also the case that we really need more accountants. Let us tell you why.

    1. They will help businesses recover

    It’s been a really tough time for businesses, and many have struggled to the point that they’ve had to close or really restructure their organisation. Accountants are vital to reassess their finances and see where and how they can rebuild.

    Clever accountancy is going to help the economy adapt and thrive - not just in the UK but around the world.

    2. They can help businesses become global

    Small businesses are no longer restricted to their immediate area, or country. They can now be global in a click of a few buttons. But they need accountants with a worldwide understanding of finance. With global expansion comes currency exchange, more suppliers, and new ways to pay and get paid.

    3. Accountants can combat climate change

    It sounds mad but it’s true. The current global GDP is roughly $87.55 trillion. A citi study* from August 2015 found that an increase of 4.5°C in global temperatures could shrink the GDP to $72 trillion.

    The Paris Agreement aims to create a global framework by limiting global temperature increase to less than 2°C. 189 countries have signed the agreement.

    Accountants are essential for mitigating climate change. They will have to step in by creating awareness of climate-smart policies and embracing renewable energy within their businesses and clients. By focusing money on the right areas, analysing how businesses deal with waste and industrial processes, accountants can combat climate change.

    Planet sustainability is inextricably linked to business and financial sustainability.

    4. Small businesses rely on good accountants

    All around the world, from car dealerships in the UK to leather bag makers in Cape Town, businesses need accountants to be successful. Business owners often regard their accountants as an irreplaceable part of their organisation.

    They rely on them for reporting, best practice advice, guidance for international sales, and all the financial aspects that they don’t want to get bogged down by. They want to focus on what they do best, and leave the numbers to their accountants.

    There’s never been a tougher time for small businesses, and it’s the accountant that they look to to ensure they can still buy, borrow, pay their staff, and function.

    5. They can bring joy and comfort

    Imagine you’ve found the solution to your business’ financial problems by sourcing a new eco-friendly supplier, that has a discount for repeat businesses and a pact to be greener?

    Win for you, win for your stakeholders and the business. There are many areas that accountants can contribute to, and reap the rewards. It’s not just number crunching - it’s finding exciting, new ways to grow and develop businesses, and keep them going for a profitable future.

    Interested in changing the world, and your career?

    You don’t need any experience in accounting to get started. Have a look at AAT if you’re just starting out, or if you’ve been working in accounting and want to boost your career, check out our ACCA and CIMA pages for more information.

    *citi - Energy Darwinism II

  • Tricky Topic - CIMA P1 study tips

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 10, 2021

    CIMA P1 is consistently regarded as one of the toughest areas of the Operational level, and the qualification as a whole. We spoke to a couple of our learners who gave an insight into their experience of passing it.

    How did you do in the exam?

    Niamh: Luckily, I passed it first time.

    Kat: I studied P1 about 2 years ago (not with Kaplan) and unfortunately failed the exam a few times. But the last time I studied with Kaplan I passed on the first try thanks to all the resources available and the great tutor support. I still found the exam tough though.

    How did you overcome the challenge of P1?

    Niamh: The thing I found most challenging was remembering all of the formulas for the various calculations. The sheer quantity of information that you needed to know, while working a full time job - in a world that’s opening up again - took some getting used to!

    It took me a good few weeks to get into the swing of things with this module. I was really struggling to switch my brain back into maths mode, having just completed E1 which was all theory.

    At the start of the module, I spent a couple of hours in the evenings copying up notes and trying to get my head round what I learnt in the lessons, and then practised questions at the weekend.

    This meant that when it came to revision time, I had a basic understanding of all of the chapters and could concentrate on answering the questions. During the last few weeks before my exam, I tried to do a couple of hours revising before work, and a couple of hours after and got myself into a daily routine of this.

    I concentrated on learning the calculations and being able to answer those types of questions, and then turned my concentration to learning the theory of the module as there is also a lot of this in the exam.

    Kat: Question practice, more practice and some more question practice. Especially timed question practice.

    It’s very challenging to stay focused and motivated if you’re getting low scores on the Mock and Test your understanding (TYU) questions, but just break it all down into bite size chunks and study the areas you feel stuck on.

    I would do the mock, write down the areas I would struggle with, and go over the chapters again to refresh my memory.

    I found it was useful to look at the chapters for the 4 syllabus areas together and build TYU modules for the areas.

    What advice would you give to someone studying P1?

    Niamh: My biggest advice to anyone doing P1 is to practice as many questions as possible. Kaplan provide a lot of practice questions.

    Make sure you also learn the theory of the module as I felt as if there was a lot more of this in the exam than I expected.

    Sticking post-it notes around the house was my trick – going to get a cup of tea in the morning and the break-even calculation being on my milk bottle, or the causes of sales variances being on my mirror. There were many little reminders in random places which helped me to picture them in my exam.

    Make sure you also reach out for help and support. Kaplan has a lot of resources to help you where you are struggling, it is what you are paying for - so use it!

    My final bit of advice is make sure you don’t overwork. Get some rest. I always found that when I was tired from a day of work or had spent hours reading the textbook, I was basically just looking into oblivion and nothing was going in.

    Manage your time so that you still have a social life, and if you get enough sleep you’ll find that your studying is actually more productive.

    Kat: I broke revision down into 2-3 hour sections at most, and over a weekend would do one first thing in the morning, then one in the afternoon.

    On the week we didn’t have tuition I made sure to recap notes on the same nights of the week to keep the momentum of studying and staying in a routine.

    Plan breaks and one day or night off – and take them. They are vital for your well-being and really beneficial, even if it’s a dog walk, food shopping or having a bit of a pamper session. I found it refreshed my mind and I could concentrate again afterwards.


    If you feel you need more support during your study times don’t forget to reach out to our Academic support team, or view our other study tips blogs.

  • 10 reasons why you should go into accounting

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 03, 2021

    Accounting. A word that is sometimes followed by “dry” or “maths” - but it’s so much more than just lines of numbers and calculations. Don’t believe us? Here are some reasons why accounting and accountancy are so much more than you might first think.

    1.It’s not just for the maths whizz

    Whilst numeracy is important, there’s so much more to accounting than numbers. Modern software does many of the calculations and number crunching for you anyway, so good communication, advisory, and guidance skills are much sought after.

    2. Everyone needs an accountant

    You can really choose any industry to work in - whether that’s film or football, science, fashion, entertainments or retail - every business needs a finance professional to help manage and advise them.

    3. Travel the world

    As an accountant the world really does open up. The skills you learn are needed everywhere, in every business. And if you’re a member of a globally recognised body such as ACCA, you’ll find that you can move to your dream city and work in a respected position in any company.

    4. No degree? Doesn’t matter!

    You will find accountants with degrees, but a lot don’t have them because they don’t need them. That’s right - accountants don’t need to have a degree to succeed. If you do have one, you might be able to skip a few exams, but often it doesn’t matter whether or not you have been to university.

    You can start AAT with absolutely no accounting knowledge, and work your way up to the advanced qualifications in due course.

    5. Demand a high salary

    Newly qualified accountants start at around £42,000* a year, a chartered accountant can earn around £55,000* a year, and a Chief Financial Officer can earn well over £100,000* a year. But salaries can vary, depending on where in the world you are, the sector you’re working in, and your experience.

    6. Be your own boss

    You don’t have to work for a company, you can work for yourself, picking and choosing your clients as you see fit.

    Your skills will be invaluable to any business - and you might find that being an accountant for lots of different small businesses may suit you better than being an in-house accountant. It can suit those who have busy home lives, or need a bit more variation in their working life.

    7. Job security

    Businesses will always need accountants, so accounting is a very stable industry to work in. While no field can guarantee anyone a job, the prospects in accounting are excellent and are likely to stay that way.

    8. Choose what you really want to do

    Accountants aren’t just there for looking at lines of numbers. If you are really interested in a particular area of finance, you can specialise. So if you really like tax or audit, you can follow that path.

    Or if you’re looking for something more investigative, try forensic accounting - remember - accountants took down Al Capone!

    9. Gain invaluable transferable skills

    The skills you learn and develop as an accountant are easily transferable to other roles and sectors. For example, accountants can go into teaching, trading or recruiting, so if you ever want a change of scenery you will have plenty of other options to choose from.

    10. Make a real difference

    Finance professionals do much more than just crunch numbers. Accountants are required to have technical abilities and commercial acumen so they can advise decision makers on strategy and business processes.

    A good accountant can steer a business or organisation in the best direction to make real differences. For example, you could be working for a charity and discover a way to make the absolute best use of every penny that comes in, changing the lives of those that the charity supports.

    Interested in accounting?

    If you’re just starting out, have a look at our AAT pages for more information about entry level qualifications. If you’re looking to advance your career with an advanced qualification, have a look at our ACCA and CIMA pages.


  • What does the MBA CIMA gateway mean for you?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 27, 2021

    CIMA Gateway is an accelerated entry route to the CIMA Professional Qualification. If you hold the relevant qualification, what could it mean for you?

    If you’re a member of a recognised accounting body, or have a relevant masters degree, you are eligible for certain exemptions, and can start CIMA at the professional strategic level. To double check the exemptions, take a look at the CIMA website.

    The CIMA Gateway is available for anyone who holds a Master’s or MBA in Accounting, and provides the opportunity for career success by opening doors to work in organisations anywhere in the world.


    The CIMA qualification opens the door to a rewarding career in any business, and ensures that you are equipped with the right skills and knowledge to add value, and guide critical business decisions, to the world’s leading organisations.

    By holding an MBA, or a relevant masters degree, it will allow you to take the accelerated Master’s Gateway route to the CIMA Professional Qualification. You’ll just need to pass the CIMA Gateway exam (also known as the Management Case Study exam), which is a three-hour computer-based case study exam, available four times a year.

    This is a case study exam and is based on pre-seen information released six weeks before the exam. You will need to demonstrate your knowledge and competencies covered in the Management level of the CIMA Professional qualification, and apply them to the case study scenario, then justify your response.

    Next steps

    Once you have passed the CIMA Gateway exam, you will be eligible to sit the Professional Qualification at Strategic Level. It consists of four exams: Financial Strategy (F3), Risk Management (P3), Strategic Management (E3) and finishing with the Strategic Case Study exam. You can then take the final step towards CGMA status along with completing the relevant work experience.

    Benefits of being a CGMA include membership of global communities and networks to support students and members. This has been set up to drive business growth, changing people’s lives throughout their whole career.

    Interested in CIMA Gateway?

    To find out more visit the fast track course on our CIMA Gateway page. If you need any help or advice please do let us know.

    We wish you all the best with your next steps.

  • Important info for the upcoming Advanced Synoptic Assessment

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 06, 2021

    This information is for AAT students who have booked their AVSYs.

    If you have your Advanced Synoptic Assessment (AVSY) booked for next week's exam window, you’ll be aware that you have to upload your excel work into the AAT SecureAssess platform.

    For those who are sitting their exam at a Kaplan centre, you’ll have access to the exam guide document before you start the exam. However, we recommend that you familiarise yourself with the process prior to your exam.

    This can be accessed via MyKaplan - or directly: AAT AVSY Exam Guidance document.

    The AAT has both documents on their study support pages, so you can read through for some understanding and then use it as a guide in the exam itself.

    Please remember we are here to support you through your AAT qualification. If you need any help please get in touch with us and good luck with your exams.

    Our Student Services team are always happy to help you.

  • What part does sustainability play in accounting?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 16, 2021

    Sustainability: What part does it play in accounting?

    Our host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning here at Kaplan, helps tackle the subject of sustainability within the world of accounting.

    Kaplan’s Learn Better podcast covers topical subjects to support our past, present and future learners to succeed in both their studies and careers.

    This week Richard Barker, Professor of Accounting at Oxford University, joins us to explore sustainability. With a lot of confusion around sustainability, and what it really means, this episode will help provide clarity on what it is and why it is important to employees and businesses.

    We delve further into the role sustainability plays in society, how knowledge of this growth space could help accelerate your career, and how in this space you can utilise any wider skillsets gained from other degree subjects alongside your accounting qualification.

    Key Topics:

    • What is sustainability?
    • Financial vs Sustainability reporting
    • New generation career opportunities
    • Sustainability reporting's role in society
    • Recommended reading

    Tune in now to join the discussion

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