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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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  • Accounting Apprenticeships: Smarter Finance Training

    by User Not Found | Jul 24, 2017

    Apprenticeships are undergoing rapid changes in the way they are funded, delivered and who is eligible to undertake one. At the same time, new Apprenticeships are being developed that will enable a student to study professional qualifications from a Level 2 (entry level) through to the full Professional status at Level 7 – a new Accountancy Apprenticeship “Family”.

    For small and medium sized businesses, these changes will provide real opportunities to make significant savings to your spend on qualifications whilst maximising the quality of the training received. Moreover help can now be provided with recruitment not just for school leavers but also graduates eligible to take an Apprenticeship.

    Make sure you fully understand the options available to you by joining us for this informative webinar where our Head of Client Solutions, Cassandra Macdonald, will cover:

    • The new Accountancy Apprenticeship family including updates on assessment methods for the new Apprenticeships at Levels 3 and 4 (Assistant Accountant)
    • A full update on the new Level 7 Apprenticeship standard which will allow students to gain full Chartered Accountancy status (Accountancy/Taxation Professional)
    • Funding available including any relevant incentives, eligibility and the 10% employer contribution rules
    • The requirements of completing an Apprenticeship including, “off the job” guidance and Skills and Behaviour focus
    • Recruitment services available
  • Kaplan and CIMA collaborate -What do successful students do?

    by Stuart Pedley-Smith, Kaplan Head of Learning | Jul 19, 2017

    On 8th June 2017 a joint webinar presentation by Kaplan and CIMA took place, the culmination of an in-depth research initiative started in September 2016. This research looked at successful CIMA students (those that passed their objective tests first time) and aimed to answer the question – ‘what makes these students so successful?’

    For this research, Kaplan shared the data of around thirteen thousand students and how they studied online. This data included amount of time spent online, what types of test they were attempting and when they were attempting them.  CIMA provided further background information on the students such as age, prior academic record and examination marks.

    This was a unique collaboration and one that should be of great value to CIMA students looking to progress through the qualification. Using big data to identify the most successful student behaviours is a great example of how Kaplan are able to continually improve both the courses we offer and the support given to our students.

    There were some key findings and practical advice that is worth sharing.

    Here are three of the headlines:

    • On average, the time from the start of the course to when you sit the exam should be:  9 weeks for classroom and 11 weeks for live online
    • To improve your chances of passing, book the exam and don’t reschedule
    • To improve your chances of passing, take tests shortly after studying and sit a mock exam

    There were many other interesting tips and hints in the full presentation that can be watched again on the CIMA website (requires CIMA Contact ID).

  • Changes to the AAT assessment process

    by User Not Found | Jun 15, 2017

    Recent reviews of AAT assessment processes has highlighted that assessment results are currently available in more than one place – MyAAT and SecureAssess.

    To assist in quality assurance processes and to ensure results are available in one central place, AAT have made the decision to make results available in MyAAT only.

    Students, please remember that you're sample assessment result will appear as a pop-up at the end of the assessment. Students are advised to make a note of their result or take screenshots.

    It's important to note that sample assessments are only available to familiarise you (student) with the look and feel of a live assessment.

    Assessment results will continue to be released with the existing time frames:

    • Results for computer marked assessments will be available within 24 hours.
    • The results for human marked assessments will continue to be made available within 6 weeks.
    • The results for synoptic assessments will continue to be made available within 6 weeks of the last day of the synoptic window.

    If you have any queries please contact one of the Kaplan team on 0333 331 9073.

  • Discover why AAT for OnDemand is the perfect study option for you

    by User Not Found | Jun 15, 2017

    Do you want an easier and more efficient way to study and pass your exams? OnDemand for AAT has a proven track record of helping students succeed.

    OnDemand for AAT is an online course which combines the support and guidance of a tutor-led course, with the flexibility to study wherever and whenever you want. Every module and topic has been through a detailed instructional design process to make your learning more effective.

    OnDemand for AAT includes a variety of formats to cement your learning, including bite-sized tutor-led lectures and activities to link topics together and help you stay motivated. Every module is scripted and links on screen animations with the graphics found within your integrated workbook. This provides a high-quality online learning experience, which is so much more than a live recorded tutor session, or even a tutor narrating highlighted text book visuals. The integrated workbook helps you keep all your notes in one place, making revision easier and more efficient.

    You spoke, we listened

    To make OnDemand for AAT the best it could possibly be, we consulted the experts - our students. We asked AAT students what they believed would increase success while studying and we used their responses to develop the features of OnDemand for AAT:

    Extended tutor support - 7 days a week

    I want to know there’s someone to speak to when I need them - not waste time waiting for a response.

    We want to provide support as soon as we can, so you don’t have to put your studies on hold waiting for a tutor response. We’re keeping our tutor support team open longer than any other provider - 7 days a week.

    In a hurry? You can get an instant response from a qualified Kaplan tutor through live chat, arrange a phone call at a convenient time, or email them your questions - even on evenings and weekends. You are guaranteed a response by email or requesting a callback in 4 hours or less and support is available until 8pm on weekdays - perfect if you have work or family commitments.

    Guidance from subject specialists

    I want a subject expert to motivate me and give me feedback.

    To get the most out of your course, you need full confidence in your tutor. Every Kaplan tutor is a subject specialist, and OnDemand gives you full access to their expertise. Our tutors will be there to guide you through the whole syllabus, so you know exactly what you need to complete and when - just like in a classroom.

    In addition we have Talent Coaches who help you achieve your goals. It can be difficult to stay motivated when studying on your own, so if you get stuck or fall behind, a Talent Coach will get in touch to motivate you and get you back on track.

    Flexibility & support

    I want flexibility, but to know there’s still structure to keep me motivated.

    OnDemand allows you to study the way you want and complements the ‘on-demand’ nature of many of the AAT exams, which can be taken any time. You can start the course 365 days a year, meaning waiting for course start dates is a thing of the past. You can work through the syllabus at your own pace, and all the content is accessible on a range of devices - allowing you to study on the go.

    Some students told us that they find it difficult to keep on track with no fixed dates, which is why OnDemand for AAT also provides structure to help you maintain progress and approach the exam with confidence.

    Example structure:

    • Your tutor will introduce and explain each unit with a recorded video. Together with a thorough course programme, you’ll have a suggested order in which to complete your course.
    • You’ll have an integrated workbook which follows the tutor-led online content, allowing you to keep all your course notes in one place and track your progress.
    • At the end of each unit, you’ll complete an assessment - these will gradually build on what you learn to fully prepare you for the exams.

    Instructionally-designed content

    I want high quality content that makes it easier to learn.

    Students told us that the quality of learning resources was the most important factor for them in choosing a flexible course. We believe that just because you decide to study remotely doesn’t mean you should compromise on quality. Every module and topic in OnDemand has been through a detailed design process to help you learn and understand in the best way possible.

    With OnDemand you’ll benefit from:

    • A wide range of high-quality and engaging online content, all designed specifically for the OnDemand course. Created by our expert tutors, this includes a mixture of tutor-led videos, worked examples and interactive tests will guide you through every part of the syllabus.
    • Integrated workbook that mirrors the online content.
    • High-quality printed study materials to boost your online learning.

    Practice with real-feel mock exams

    I want lots of question practice, but in a format that’s like the actual exams.

    Practice questions are an important part of learning. But rather than just focusing on the total volume of questions, OnDemand for AAT assessments are designed in a way that will help you better prepare for the exams.

    Knowledge Checks and Progress Tests help deepen your understanding as you go along and highlight areas you still need to work on. Plus you can build your own tests from a bank of hundreds of questions, so you can focus on the areas you need to practice most. The final two mock exams even look and feel like the real exams to maximise your confidence. When you take a mock exam, you’ll get immediate, personalised feedback so you can learn from any mistakes and access your performance.

    Don’t just take our word for it

    OnDemand is a fantastic study option, but don’t just take our word for it, here’s what our students have to say:

    OnDemand allows me to learn at my own pace and at a time to suit me, but still have support available.  I have young children and work part-time so learning has to fit in around them.
    It gives me the support and resources I feel are helpful and important for passing exams.
    The instant feedback provided on the mock exams are a massive help to see where there is room for improvement.

    Fancying trying OnDemand for yourself? Try our free OnDemand demo.  Or learn more about our award-winning study option OnDemand.

  • ACCA Post Exam Advice

    by Rebecca Evans | May 09, 2017

    Planning your studies is really important. It helps you focus on your end goal - becoming a qualified accountant. I’d recommend you have a plan that covers the next twelve months as a minimum. What sittings are you going to use? Do you have any major events coming up - moving house, getting married? Factor these in and then plan around them.

    The important thing is to aim to sit four exams per year. That way you’ll qualify in three to four years have opportunities for new roles and those all important pay rises!

    Many of my students ask what subjects they should sit together and in what order they should sit the papers. The answer I always give is that there is no one right answer that will work for everyone. The course combinations that are right for you will depend on your role, often your employer’s wishes, the availability of courses offered by your tuition provider and any exemptions you may have.

    Planning your next step

    Assuming you have already completed the Applied Knowledge level and Law, you need to plan the order you will attempt the Applied Skills level subjects. If you are working in a financial accounting or audit role it is advisable to do FR (F7) and AA (F8) first. You could choose to sit them together or consecutively depending on how many subjects you chose to study at one time.

    Often employers in practice request their students sit these papers first as it gives them the essential skills and knowledge they need to operate effectively in the workplace. If working in tax, start with TX (F6), alongside PM (F5) or AA (F8) if you are sitting two subjects per sitting and if in management accounting start with PM (F5).

    ACCA pass rates

    Our pass rates are proven - 46 of our classes achieved 100% pass rates in the June 2017 exam sitting*.

    *Based on ACCA F5-F9, P1-P3, P6 and P7 papers for part time classroom students across 14 Kaplan centres at the June 2017 sitting.

    You also need to factor in when to attempt various subjects. With the exception of Tax subjects, the syllabi change for the September exams so some students choose to avoid sitting FR (F7) in June as if you are unsuccessful in your examination you will need to resit the exam under potentially updated accounting standards.

    It is also helpful to sit FR (F7) and SBR under the same syllabus version, so you may look to sit FR (F7) in September as one of your final skills level papers and then SBR no later than the following June.

    This would be the same for tax subjects and sitting under the same Finance Act although be aware the syllabus change dates are different for the tax subjects (TX and ATX).

    Textbooks and other material are valid for exams June to March so look to sit TX in June, September or December and ATX (if you opt to do it) before the following March. Remember you can now sit the exams at the professional level in any order.

    PM (F5), AA (F8) and FM (F9) are generally less affected by syllabus changes, unless there is a major one (2017 isn’t a major update), so it isn’t so important to worry about the point in the year you attempt it, but depending on your choice of options you may choose to sit the underpinning subject a sitting or so before the option i.e. FM close to AFM or AA immediately before AAA.

    Selecting options

    Many of the Options papers have a low pass rate and students are rightly concerned about making the best selection for them. The general advice is, if working in management accounting do AFM and APM, if in practice or tax, TX and AAA. The AAA examiner has stated AAA is significantly harder for those students not in an audit or accounting role with little practical experience and it is advisable that those students choose another option. However, be sensible; think about your long term career ambitions and your performance at the preceding examination, for example if you struggled at FM attempting AFM may not be the wisest decision.

  • Modern Accountancy Training: Technology and the Science of Learning

    by Stuart Pedley-Smith | Feb 27, 2017

    It’s hard to imagine, but back at the turn of the century, many financial institutions were gripped by the fear that as the clock struck midnight, the so-called ”millennium bug” would reap its toll. It was predicted to affect not only financial systems, but everything from home computers to power stations and military installations.

    We survived of course, but this was one of the first signs as to how dependant we had become on technology. Not so in the world of accountancy training: overhead projectors were very much in use, and in some institutions the blackboard remained a stark reminder that little had changed.

    There’s nothing wrong with traditional methods. After all, good teaching has little to do with technology. But technology did offer an opportunity to capture data and metrics that could help give a unique insight into what was driving student success. It could also provide more flexible and convenient delivery channels.

    The consolidation of the accounting market by Kaplan in 2003, created sufficient scale to make longer term investment attractive. In addition, it opened up what was a relatively niche area of education to greater scrutiny from learning experts and colleagues in the US, who were delivering training in a whole variety of different domains to that of finance and accountancy.

    This scale of investment and new areas of expertise would bring about some of the biggest changes the accounting education sector had seen.

    Technology, teaching and online courses

    One of the first tangible changes was the introduction of technology into the classroom. In 2005 the overhead projector was replaced by write on tablets and interactive whiteboards. A small change on one level, but with access to the internet tutors were able to bring real world and real time events into the classroom.

    At this time, there were still only two main ways that students could study, in class or distance learning, the latter being the method of learning that had started it all way back in 1884. But the investment in technology was having as much impact outside the classroom as inside. It was now possible to provide students with electronic content, and in 2007, the first online courses began to emerge.

    Kaplan in the UK began to invest in a new area called ‘Instructional Design’. Instructional designers did not have to be qualified accountants or teachers, they were experts in constructing instructional experiences online to help students learn more efficiently. It would take several years for the role of the instructional designer to become embedded within the company, but the seed was set.

    By 2013, the range of online content had become such that it needed to be far better organised, and students were asking for a faster and more accessible online experience. This change in student consumption was not unexpected. The iPhone was launched in 2007, followed by the iPad in 2010, and meant that easy-to-use interactive devices quickly became a familiar site in classrooms. By 2013 the iPad was already 3 years old. Although learning management systems had been used by Kaplan to host materials for some time, there was a need for more of an online learning environment rather than just a portal to store information. As a result, MyKaplan was launched.

    This change towards the use of new technologies and methods of delivery was not as smooth a transition as it might seem. There was much debate as to which was best: was it the classroom or online? There was little doubt that online was more convenient and flexible, but others would describe it as dull and not capable of holding the student’s attention for long periods of time.

    One hybrid solution was to create a course that used both, and 2013 saw the launch of blended courses and flipped classrooms. ‘Flipping’ was a technique borrowed from the state system where teachers used pre-recorded online content to introduce the subject and explain the principles. The teacher would then build on what had been learned by answering student’s questions in class and exploring new ideas by enquiry.

    A changing world and the science of learning

    Another big change resulting from the consolidation in 2003, was that a far greater emphasis was being placed on understanding the process and nature of learning. Events that would take place in the next few years would have significant impact on what accountants needed to learn and the speed in which they needed to learn it.

    By 2003, the knowledge economy was in full swing. Technology had created an explosion in data and the accountant’s role was changing. Much of the processes used to record transactions had been removed. Computers were excellent at double entry bookkeeping!

    Back in 2001 however, another development that rocked the finance world was beginning to have an impact on what accountants should know and how they should behave. A company that was praised for its growth, ambitious projects and had been named "America's Most Innovative Company" six times was declared bankrupt. On the 2nd of December 2001, Enron filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. It's demise not only highlighted questionable accounting practices, but asked fundamental questions as to the ethical judgement of accountants. One final chapter to the Enron story was the fall from grace of Arthur Anderson, one of the “big five” who as auditors to Enron were already in a difficult position, but the discovery that they had shredded vital documents sealed their fate.

    The professional bodies responded with new subjects and embedded ethics into much of the curriculum. These changes were supported by an increase in governance, additional regulation and an emphasis on the importance of risk management. Arguably just in time, as the financial crises of 2008 was just around the corner.

    This all happened in a relatively short period of time. The student of course had to keep pace with all these changes. Fortunately, a new discipline that used a combination of neuroscience cognitive psychology and educational best practices had begun to mature.

    ‘Learning science’ was in the public domain, and Kaplan sought to harness its power to help solve the conundrum of how to train and educate people better, and faster. Science played such an important part in many other disciplines: medicine, engineering, manufacturing and even sport. Education, however, had remained relatively untouched by the scientific process.

    As with technology, the exploration into improving learning is ongoing, but taking an evidenced based approach, increasingly informs what Kaplan does in order to continually improve the courses on offer, and the ways in which learning is consumed.

    Changes in assessment and greater flexibility 

    Looking back on the period from 2003 to 2013, what happened next may seem trivial, but to the providers of Accountancy training the requirement for students to sit their exams online and when they chose i.e. on-demand, would prove challenging.

    Both the industry and the profession had long wanted a more flexible system for students sitting exams, one that was more convenient and able to better fit with the business. The response from the professional bodies was to begin to offer more examinations online. Kaplan like many of its competitors already had flexible courses (distance learning), but for some this would never be their preferred study method.

    It was time again for Kaplan to invest, this time in a brand-new delivery channel, the OnDemand course. In many ways, it is a great example of what has changed since the Financial Training Company was acquired by Kaplan in 2003. It uses relatively small chunks of video that not only appeal to the YouTube generation, but have been proven to provide the student with the optimum learning experience. The video was embedded in self managed instructionally designed course programmes that drew on expertise first brought into the company in 2007. The OnDemand course took time to develop, and was eventually launched in 2016.

    The speed of change in Accountancy training has certainly accelerated, but perhaps that is to be expected as learning has to keep pace with what is happening in the Accountancy profession, and the wider business community. The ways in which students can learn are certainly more varied and flexible today: we are far better informed as to how the brain works, and learning science continues to reveal new and improved ways in which we can teach and deliver content.

    However, there is always a trade-off when introducing new technology. Going from study to exams is that much faster, and students would almost certainly argue that pressures are greater. So, perhaps there will always be a part of every student who would rather go back in time, to the classrooms at Caer Rhun hall, being regaled by stories of motor cars and the wealth of opportunities a career in finance can bring.

    Stuart Pedley-Smith, Head of Learning for Kaplan Financial, has been involved with training and educating finance professionals for over 20 years. He is especially interested in the process of learning and the exam skills and techniques that contribute towards success in the classroom and in life. Stuart has written two books – The E word – Kaplan’s Guide to Passing Exams and A student’s guide to writing Business Reports.

  • The Growth and Consolidation of Accountancy Training

    by User Not Found | Feb 27, 2017

    The period from the 1970’s to the turn of the millennium was pivotal when looking at the development of accountancy training in the UK. Training became more accessible and its development, as we know it today, really began. Large professional training companies grew and the qualifications continued to evolve.

    Much of the change which began in the 70s was due to legal amendments, which came about in the late 1960s. Two such changes were the Companies Act of 1967 and the requirement of firms to be responsible for their trainees’ contracts.

    Up to this point, accountancy training looked different by modern standards (as referred to in our previous article: ‘The Origins of Accountancy Training in the UK’). Trainee accountants (or ‘articled clerks’) were wealthy individuals who were responsible for paying for their own training, unlike their present-day counterparts who are often sponsored by firms (approx. 70%).

    Training providers expand

    One of the first training providers to flourish, having an early understanding of the changes in law, was the Financial Training Company (FTC). It opened offices across the country, starting with Manchester and Leeds, and acquired the teaching business, ATF, and the advertising agency TB Brown.

    Within 3 years of this expansion, FTC became a public company and floated on the London Stock Exchange as Park Place Investments plc, in 1973. It remained there until its acquisition by publishing giant Wolters Kluwer in 1986.

    During this period, Accountancy Tuition Centres (ATC) was developed separately by a couple of gentlemen who worked for the established publisher of the day: H. Foulkes Lynch (HFL). These two figures were John Higgison and John Whiteside. John Whiteside, while at HFL, had authored influential books including General Financial Knowledge, whereas John Higgison was a fastidious and ‘old school’ tutor.

    Between the two of them, they set up ATC, and were joined by the entrepreneurial Barry Topple. The latter’s ambition drove ATC forward, as he used the lease on Eynsham Hall in Oxfordshire as a space for residential tuition, and the conversion of a freehold school in Myatt’s Fields in London as a training centre.

    In 1983, ATC and Caer Rhun Hall formed an alliance as a separate entity, with tuition being run under the ATC banner, and in 1985 ATC was incorporated as a private limited company.

    In the early 1970s another training provider that emerged around this time was Chart Tutors. The company was formed by Ronald Ind, Stuart Anderson and John Cooper across London, the Midlands and Bristol. In 1978 they merged with the Foulkes Lynch publishing business to form Chart Foulkes Lynch - acquired by the aforementioned ATC in 1989.

    The early 70s, through to the late 80s, was also a period where accountancy qualifications themselves were evolving. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), both gained Royal Charters (in 1974 and 1986) and continued to develop.

    ACCA and CIMA growth

    Although ACCA and CIMA had become well established for qualifications in the accountancy profession and industry, this period in history saw them expand their reach. The 1980s saw ACCA find new opportunities in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and China. It also saw their membership numbers rise from 25,000 (in 1982), to 50,000 (in 1996). This rise continues right through to recent times; in 2016 they had recorded a figure of 188,000 members.

    Similarly, CIMA’s membership also rapidly grew over the decades, with membership rising from 15,000 in 1970 to 91,744 in 2014. It also played a huge role in founding other professional bodies throughout the world.

    Consolidating knowledge

    Throughout the latter part of the 20th century, training providers continued this pattern of growth, development and merger. However, as we approached the beginning of the 21st century, it was an American company that caused a new major development in UK based accountancy training.

    By 2003, New York-based training company Kaplan Inc, owned by the Washington Post Company, was a well established training provider. Having started life in 1938 as a test prep company, Kaplan had grown dramatically in the years 1998-2003. Around this period, it entered a variety of new education markets, becoming one of the most diverse educational businesses.

    It was at this point that Kaplan made its first non US company acquisition, purchasing FTC. This marked one of the largest company acquisitions in Kaplan’s 65 year history. During the buy-out, FTC was headquartered in London and had become a leader in test preparation services for accountants and financial services professionals, with many centres in the UK and a growing presence in Asia.

    It was a good fit. FTC and Kaplan had already established a co-branding relationship, so between the two companies there was significant compatibility in their financial services businesses. They also had similar clients, providing global scale.

    At the time of acquisition, the then Chairman and CEO, Jonathan Grayer, said: “This acquisition will broaden our menu of offerings, as well as the geographic distribution of our financial service products.”

    FTC’s CEO, William Macpherson, also commented: “We have been growing well over the past several years, and this move will help catalyse further growth. In addition, this will enable FTC to tap into Kaplan’s extensive resources and expertise”.

    Later that year (2003), Kaplan further consolidated the training market in the UK by acquiring several other tuition companies, all with a rich history: AT Foulks Lynch (ATFL), the Accountancy Tuition Centres (ATC) and AT Emile Wolf (ATEW).

    It is through these years of heritage and learning that has enabled Kaplan to develop its wide range of innovative products and services that we see today, and what will drive it forward into the future.

    The next blog in the ‘Kaplan Heritage Series’ will chart the story of accountancy training profession from the turn of the century and beyond.

    Thank you for their valuable contributions: Peter Houillon, Julie Hughes, Peter Anderson and Tony Unett.

    And thank you to John Bennett who collated stories from John Gibbs, Jeremy Hanley, Bob Phelps, Mike Plant and Phil Todd.

  • The Origins of Accountancy Training in the UK

    by User Not Found | Feb 27, 2017

    In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution caused a surge in trade and an increasing demand for better and more accurate financial information. Keeping track of what one had sold, and at what price became essential. The accountancy profession was born out of this world. In this context of profound change, the first accounting body (The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland) was founded on 11th December 1854.

    From the late 19th century onwards, a series of other professional bodies followed suit. 1880 saw the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) being given royal charter, in addition to The Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (ACCA) - which can trace its origins back to 1903. Finally, The Institute of Cost and Works Accountants, that later became the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), was founded in 1919. Over the subsequent years many other professional bodies were founded, giving an indication of the plethora of activity and appetite for training that was taking place around the late 19th century.

    Parallel to these developments (1884 onwards), H Foulks Lynch & Co were publishing materials to help accountancy students, and occasionally provided face to face training. Mr Foulks Lynch built up his business at a time when the ICAEW had begun to insist on the passing of examinations as a condition for membership. The British government also passed acts that created a more complex regulatory framework in which accountants were increasingly required to operate.

    During this early period, training to be an accountant was not a glamorous affair. Between 1928-1933, Charles Kohler chronicled his time as a London chartered accountant’s articled clerk. Typical of this era, he received no pay for his five years’ of hard work, and studied mostly using a correspondence programme with Foulks Lynch. He stated that it was “Thorough but narrow, practical rather than theoretical”. The absence of a salary required one to study in one’s own time and gave limited support when attempting to pass a set of demanding examinations. There were no exemptions and failing a paper resulted in having to retake them all (a practice that continued well into the 1980s). Pass rates were therefore relatively low compared with modern expectations, and were a drain on students’ and their parents' personal finances.

    Accountancy training was in need of change. So in 1953, V.R. Anderson (known by many as ‘Ronnie’) begun a process that would offer students an alternative route to qualification.

    Ronnie Anderson was perhaps the first person to realise that a course of intensive study was the way forward. Having distinguished himself in his final ACA exams, he had started to tutor trainee chartered accountants prior to the Second World War. In post war Britain, there was a steady flow of ex-servicemen seeking new careers in accountancy and Ronnie made his name in helping them become qualified accountants.

    Ronnie became very well known, so much so that he quickly needed extra space to run his ever expanding courses. In 1953, he purchased Caer Rhun Hall, allowing him to expand, this time into residential training. The hall was a late Victorian pile of some 20 bedrooms in the Conwy Valley in North Wales, built in the 1890s on the site of an earlier 17th century house, near to the remains of a Roman fort.

    Within this tranquil, grand setting, Ronnie Anderson’s courses went from strength to strength, and word spread of his successful learning approach - compared to the worthy, but arduous, correspondence course method. A typical working day was 9am till 10pm, with regular breaks. Friday was exam practice day and Saturday was a much needed rest day. Sunday, however, was “back-to-work” starting with a detailed commentary on the practice exams, followed by self–appraisal sessions and one-to-one tuition.

    The Caer Rhun model involved long periods of study, punctuated with tests marked by the tutors who, in turn, gave personalised feedback to the students. This method allowed tutors to really understand how the students learned and what they needed to do to improve. In many ways, these are the same principles Kaplan use to this very day.The approach was so successful that Anderson was employed by the ICAEW to run teacher training courses at Caer Rhun and in London.

    It was inevitable that these modern teaching practices would extend their reach. In 1957, two bright Caer Rhun students, Mervyn Frankel and Gerry Thomas, were recruited onto the teaching staff, and went on to set up a practice in Park Place, London, under the name Anderson, Thomas and Frankel (ATF). ATF soon developed into a major force in the tuition business, mainly in London, whilst Caer Rhun Hall continued to flourish, and by the early 1970s they acquired an additional centre nearby, called Hafodonus Hall.

    A change in company legislation in the late 1960s was to have a profound effect on the accountancy profession and its training providers. On 27th July 1967, HM Queen Elizabeth formally approved the Companies Act 1967. This law repealed the Companies Act 1948 which stated “No…..partnership consisting of more than 20 persons shall be formed……”. Before 1967, no firm could have more than 20 partners and this limit to their size kept them from becoming national. The new Act resulted in a merger spree, allowing the growth of the national and global accountancy firms we have today.

    Additionally, around this time, the ICAEW made firms responsible for their trainees’ contracts and also made a university degree an entry requirement. For many students, this also had the effect of shortening articles from five to three years and contributed towards intense growth.

    Due to the major legislative and commercial changes affecting the accountancy profession in the UK, national financial training providers, such as Kaplan, rapidly developed and flourished. They became a crucial element of the modern accountancy landscape.

    Read our next blog in this ‘Kaplan Heritage Series’, where we continue the chronology from the 1970s to 2003.

    Thanks for their valuable contributions to: Peter Houillon, Julie Hughes, Peter Anderson and Tony Unett.

    And thanks to John Bennett who collated stories from John Gibbs, Jeremy Hanley, Bob Phelps, Mike Plant and Phil Todd.

  • Kaplan Heritage: An Interview With Tutor, Tim Howes

    by User Not Found | Feb 27, 2017

    There is no better way to understand an industry, or a company, than through the individuals that represent it.

    As part of our Kaplan Heritage celebration, we interviewed a selection of people who have been part of our story over the years: tutors, apprentices, current students, and those who are part of our Accountancy Training alumni.

    We asked them about their personal experiences with Kaplan, some of which relate to memories dating as far back as 30 years ago.

    Here we speak to Tim Howes, Kaplan Centre Manager for Norwich, who is sharing his passion for training.

    Could you give a brief introduction to your role at Kaplan? Where are you based?

    I am the Centre Manager, in Norwich. I oversee many areas: staff, planning, clients and delivery in the classroom. I started working for Kaplan Financial’s predecessor (ATC) 27 years ago as a tutor.

    What do you remember about first joining Kaplan?

    My first impression (when we were ATC) was that the company was a breath of fresh air. Seeing different faces all of the time, and making a difference to people, was a real positive. At the time, we ran courses locally, at national firms’ local offices, and we did pretty much everything ourselves.  Then, the market changed and large firms started to want national training delivery. Becoming part of Kaplan helped us evolve; it was a necessary change. We suddenly became part of a bigger network, with the much needed materials, I.T. and marketing support.

    What was your career background prior to starting with Kaplan?

    I worked for a local practice that was part of the Moore Stephens network. I quite enjoyed it, but it got to the point where I was to either become a partner or stay in the same role.

    What did you teach at Kaplan?

    My area has always typically been Financial Accounting and Reporting, Audit and Corporate Reporting.

    Did you train with Kaplan?

    Yes, my training was with Kaplan when it was ATC. I actually trained with the person who helped to recruit me.

    Do students stay in touch after their exams?

    From my experience, you have a ‘honeymoon period’ where they qualify and get their head down. This is the period where you don’t hear much from them. However, once they get to a position of seniority and progress with their career, that’s when they tend to pick up the phone and make contact again with their tutors.

    How many students do you train per year?

    We teach across the whole spectrum of Accountancy Qualifications, so we get a real mix. Over the course of a year, I’d say maybe about 300 to 400. Interestingly, when I go out to client meetings, I occasionally cross paths with people I taught 20 years ago. It is rewarding to see that we put them through the system, and meet up with them again, but in a client context.

    What has continued to inspire you over the years, whilst working for Kaplan?

    Two things have inspired me. One is seeing people develop and progress beyond the achievements we might have made, in some cases. The other thing, I would say, is the great satisfaction that the tutors receive from their work.

    What has been the biggest change in Accountancy whilst you have been at Kaplan?

    The biggest change at the moment is the funding for Apprenticeships. When I started to train, I would teach about 99% graduates. However, today we obviously have flourishing AAT programmes, and the Apprenticeship funding that goes with it. In today’s market, we often work with firms that want a central delivery across the whole of the country. I think we have appropriately become a more integrated service.

    Why do you think Kaplan’s students have such a good pass rate?

    It’s down to the dedication of the staff. They are very determined, and once they get into that classroom, it’s all about delivering for the students. Here at Norwich and Ipswich our pass rates are phenomenal and it’s down to the dedication of both the staff and the students. I personally place the success of individuals above everything else.

    How has the Accountancy Training profession evolved; how have Kaplan’s methods evolved to reflect this?

    It has changed quite a bit. Firstly, the technology has made a huge difference. The advancement has been phenomenal: it makes delivery so much easier now. The development of standardised products means that things are a lot more ‘joined up’ and more structured. Fragmented and non-connected firms can’t work properly. Here at Kaplan, we have a strong level of consistency across all of our centres.

    What’s your favourite memory of working at Kaplan?

    It would be obvious to say teaching prize winners and high achieving students, but we get that all the time. So ultimately, I would say - “working with great people”. To me, the best thing is the characters I’ve met along this journey.

  • Kaplan Heritage: An Interview With Tutor, Gordon Faragher

    by User Not Found | Feb 27, 2017

    There is no better way to understand an industry, or a company, than through the individuals that represent it.

    As part of our Kaplan Heritage celebration, we interviewed a selection of people who have been part of our story over the years: tutors, apprentices, current students, and those who are part of our Accountancy Training alumni.

    We asked them about their personal experiences with Kaplan, some of which relate to memories dating as far back as 30 years ago.

    Here we speak to Gordon Faragher, currently working as a Live Online tutor and a long standing servant of Kaplan Financial.

    Gordon has had a broad range of experience at Kaplan, and has seen it evolve right into the digital age. Here he shares his valuable insights on the past and present.  

    Can you give a brief introduction to your role at Kaplan?

    I have been at Kaplan since 1986. I work as a tutor in the Live Online team, and I’ve been in this role since 2011.

    Have you worked in different roles whilst at Kaplan? How have you progressed?

    When I began my career at Kaplan, I started as a tutor in the Liverpool centre in 1986. In 1990, I was promoted to the Head of Centre in Liverpool. I then became the Head of Centre in Manchester a few years later (1993), for 6 years, and then progressed to Head of the Northern Region (Manchester and Leeds). My position after that was the Head of the Tax Division, which I did for 5 years. Eventually, however, I decided to move out of management and back into training: CPD division, tax updates and training tax inspectors. After a few years, I like to move to a new role. If people stay in the same job for a very long time, I feel it can block progression for anyone else.

    What was your career background prior to starting with Kaplan?

    I was an auditor with Price Waterhouse  in 1982. I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1984, and then started to do some in-house training for them, which I really enjoyed. I wanted to keep working in training so I looked to work for a training company.

    What did you teach at Kaplan?

    My main subjects were Tax and Law, but I also did Basic Accounts and Business Strategy. Over the years I have taught most things.

    Do students stay in touch after their exams?

    Some do. Occasionally you get very nice emails immediately after the results; with others you can hear from them years later, and some you just run into. Our students from the Middle East are particularly good at keeping in touch and let you know how they’re doing. It’s very heart-warming.

    How many students do you train, per year?

    It’s difficult to determine, but I would say I’d train about 500 students over a typical year. The classroom size can vary as they can be as little as 4 or 5, but on Live Online, it can be from 30 to 70 students at the same time.

    What has continued to inspire you over the years working for Kaplan?

    I feel that you have to keep evolving, as it keeps things interesting. When I moved to Live Online it made sense to me because it seemed as though it was the way teaching was going to progress. It was very different from teaching to a real classroom: you’re delivering the same material, but you have to think about teaching in a different way. Luckily I’ve been able to move around quite a few times, due to the various opportunities available at Kaplan.

    What has been the biggest change in Accountancy whilst you have been at Kaplan?

    There have been many.  When I started, for instance, I only taught ICAEW - so moving into the other qualifications was quite significant. Another change would be the exam rules; they used to be much stricter. Many years ago, you would sit 5 exams in 2 and a half days. If you failed any, then you would automatically have failed all of them, and 6 months later you’d have to take them all again. Subsequently, in those days the pass rates were much lower, at around 30%. With today’s exams, you can take more than one at a time and any that you pass you can keep. The process is more efficient and fairer. I personally feel that it’s much better.

    What have been the biggest challenges you have faced professionally?

    The hardest challenge was probably when I was doing the CPD training. Teaching tax updates to people who were quite senior and knew a lot about tax was demanding, but also very rewarding from an intellectual point of view.

    Why do you think Kaplan’s students have such a good pass rate?

    We are one of the biggest training providers in the UK and we have outstanding  teaching materials.

    How has the financial teaching profession evolved; how have Kaplan’s methods evolved to reflect this?

    From a classroom perspective, when I started, we used to have overhead projectors. Until a few years ago, many lectures were hand written. It was a more manual process. The biggest change in teaching methods has to be Live Online, our virtual classroom. It was initiated very gradually at first, but now it’s very important, and a really efficient way to conduct a large class. Kaplan was one of the first training companies to adopt this study method.

    What’s your favourite memory of working at Kaplan?

    In addition to the social activities - (and parties!)- where all staff got together and bond, and the opportunity I had to teach in Mauritius a couple of times, I would say it’s all about receiving your students’ results. It’s really rewarding, and particularly seeing the results of the foreign students considering they are learning a skill in another language. I find that very impressive.

  • Kaplan Heritage: An Interview With Current Student, Vivi Sargioti

    by User Not Found | Feb 27, 2017

    There is no better way to understand an industry, or a company, than through the individuals that represent it.

    As part of our Kaplan Heritage celebration, we interviewed a selection of people who have been part of our story over the years: tutors, apprentices, current students, and those who are part of our Accountancy Training alumni.

    We asked them about their personal experiences with Kaplan, some of which relate to memories dating as far back as 30 years ago.

    Here we speak to current CIMA student, Vivi Sargioti, who is sharing her ambition and enthusiasm with us.

    Can you give a brief introduction to yourself and the qualification you are studying at Kaplan?

    I am currently studying CIMA, the P3 exams - it’s a case study. I’ve studied business administration before; I have an MBA degree. When I started working in Finance,  I soon realised I was mainly interested in the commercial and managerial aspect of it, rather than  the pure accounting side. In light of this, CIMA was the right choice for me because it matched my professional ambitions.

    How did you first hear about Kaplan?

    One of my colleagues was studying CIMA with Kaplan. She was very positive about her learning experience and recommended Kaplan to me. I must say, it’s lived up to that very much.

    How do you study and what have you most enjoyed about your course?

    I study via Live Online and occasionally I go to the Bristol centre for my exams. This study method really suits my lifestyle and work schedule: I like to study from home and make my own arrangements rather than having to commute all the time. The online lectures are good because they’re recorded, so I can listen back to them.  I have particularly enjoyed the level 9 module. The online tutors are very knowledgeable. I also like the fact that Kaplan are always improving the courses and the services they provide to students. The online resources are very useful, particularly the mock exams and forums.

    What has been the biggest challenge whilst studying?

    My very first exam, which was a management case study. It was a bit of a challenge. I benefited from a certain number of exemptions because of my MBA, but this meant that I had to start straight away with a case study at managerial level. It was a bit daunting; I hadn’t studied for some time and wasn’t too confident but my tutor at the time was really helpful and built up my confidence. In the end, I did extremely well in that exam and won an award.

    Have your tutors inspired you to succeed in your studies?

    In my very first case study my tutor was very knowledgeable and supportive throughout the whole process. She gave me some great advice that was much needed. All of the tutors I have had so far have been incredibly helpful.

    What is your favourite memory of studying at Kaplan?

    I once met with the President of CIMA because of my good results from the case study. That was definitely one of the highlights of my journey so far.

    Do you have any plans for the next stage of your career?

    I am already working in Accountancy and Finance but this qualification will allow me to get into a more commercially focussed role, hopefully a Management Accountant role.

  • Kaplan Heritage: An Interview With Apprentice, Sally Fisher

    by User Not Found | Feb 27, 2017

    There is no better way to understand an industry, or a company, than through the individuals that represent it.

    As part of our Kaplan Heritage celebration, we interviewed a selection of people who have been part of our story over the years: tutors, apprentices, current students, and those who are part of our Accountancy Training alumni.

    We asked them about their personal experiences with Kaplan, some of which relate to memories dating as far back as 30 years ago.

    In this interview we speak to Sally Fisher who is studying an Accountancy Apprenticeship and works at Whittingham Riddell LLP. She is sharing her learning experience and aspirations.

    Can you give a brief introduction to yourself and the qualification you studied at Kaplan?

    I studied AAT, levels 3 and 4 through apprenticeship, at the Kaplan Birmingham centre. I am currently working for Whittingham Riddell LLP in Shrewsbury, an accountancy firm. I am hoping to complete the ACCA qualification eventually.

    What attracted you towards taking the apprenticeship route into accountancy?

    I got an email, whilst at 6th form college, advertising the Kaplan accountancy apprenticeship, offering the chance to study for free.  It was the advert that drew me in. I never really thought about a career in Accountancy until I saw this opportunity, but I’ve never looked back.

    What have you most enjoyed about studying with Kaplan?

    The Kaplan tutors made the lessons very relatable. I never felt they were patronising in any way. They made the course very interesting and always made me feel like an intelligent person.

    What has been the biggest challenge whilst studying?

    Level 4 was quite a big step up for me; I found the course pretty challenging at first as it went into a lot of details.

    How do you study?

    I am on a day release study programme, which means that around once a week I train at Kaplan in  Birmingham. I would do the work set in class and when I got back home I would recap what was said in the lesson. When it came to the weekends, I would look at the revision notes drawn up by Kaplan.

    Have your tutors inspired you to succeed in your studies? Are there any specific examples?

    The tutors were all quite inspiring. Most were relatively young, which made me think I could possibly do their job in a few years’ time. I really liked that idea. They also had a lot of work and industry experience too, which helped me tremendously, as they drew on real life knowledge.

    How has technology been integrated into your learning experience?

    Have you found the online resources helpful in your studies?During revision and around exam times, I used the online tests Kaplan provides, and I found them really useful. If you got an answer incorrect they would tell you why you were wrong.

    What is your favourite memory of studying at Kaplan?

    It’s definitely the people that you meet while you’re at Kaplan:  the tutors and the students. I’ve made a lot of good friends amongst the students and we’d always meet for lunch and drinks. It made studying a bit more fun.

    Did the experience of studying with Kaplan fulfil your expectations?

    Absolutely. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at first. All I knew is that Kaplan had a good reputation and was a very prestigious place to study. The environment at the Kaplan centre wasn’t too formal but the tutors ensured the job got done at the same time. A great balance.

    What are you plans for the next stage of your career?

    I am hoping to continue studying and to ultimately get Chartered.

  • Kaplan Heritage: An Interview With Tutor, Andy Bradley

    by User Not Found | Feb 27, 2017

    There is no better way to understand an industry, or a company, than through the individuals that represent it.

    As part of our Kaplan Heritage celebration, we interviewed a selection of people who have been part of our story over the years: tutors, apprentices, current students, and those who are part of our Accountancy Training alumni.

    We asked them about their personal experiences with Kaplan, some of which relate to memories dating as far back as 30 years ago.

    Here we speak to Andy Bradley, a subject matter expert for the OnDemand Team and a course Manager within the Kaplan Tutor Academy.

    Could you give a brief introduction to your role at Kaplan? Where are you based?

    I have been at Kaplan for nearly 19 years. I’m a subject matter expert for the OnDemand team, as well as being a course Manager within the Kaplan Tutor Academy. Usually I’m based at home, but I also visit the Hull office. In my role within the OnDemand creation team, I help produce storyboards and video content for AAT and ACCA courses, mainly in the area of auditing and ethics. We are creating a new OnDemand product which is launching throughout this year. I also help out with tutor observations. We observe all the Kaplan tutors throughout the country, and give them constructive feedback.

    Have you worked in different roles whilst at Kaplan? How have you progressed?

    I started out as a tutor, in the Leeds office, then I got the chance to be the Hull Centre Manager for a few years. Following that I became the national AAT Manager, where I looked after the AAT products and revenue. 5 years ago, I left that role to create the Kaplan Tutor Academy.

    What do you remember about first joining Kaplan?

    I remember that there weren’t as many people in the office and I was trusted to use my own initiative. I would find study materials I thought would be relevant and start using them. In those days, the tutors used to share one computer. Most of us didn’t use it very often; we didn’t see it as being relevant.  How the times have changed.

    What was your career background prior to starting with Kaplan?

    Before joining Kaplan, I was a Chartered Accountant and worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (when it was Price Waterhouse). I had been an internal trainer there.

    What do you teach at Kaplan?

    I used to teach about 120 days out of the year, but now I am working with the OnDemand team I will teach about 40 days per year. I predominantly teach Audit, but also Business Strategy and Financial Management.

    How many students do you train, per year?

    It’s difficult to measure. In classes, we can teach to about 10 or 12 students; but then, if I teach via Live Online, it can be around 100 students.

    What has continued to inspire you over the years working for Kaplan?

    For me, I prefer training to working as an Accountant, as it combines my skills, qualifications and interests. I have always wanted to teach and I still have a passion for it.  I’m usually happy to see the Christmas break, but very glad to get back into the classroom again in the new year. I still think results day is the most stressful, but also the most exciting, day in the calendar.

    What have been the biggest challenges you have faced professionally?

    For me, as a technophobe, every time we get a new technological advancement I find that it presents a new personal challenge. It’s quite a departure from the time when just used a projector.

    Why do you think Kaplan’s students have such a good pass rate?

    Undoubtedly it’s because of the tutors and their commitment to getting people through. When it comes to a marginal student, I can’t think of any colleague who wouldn’t do everything they can to get their student to improve and qualify.

    What’s your favourite memory of working at Kaplan?

    I always enjoy teaching and presenting abroad. Visiting new places is something I’m not sure any other job would’ve given me the chance to do. Teaching a first prize winner was also great, and any time I spend at Caer Rhun Hall is memorable. It’s the home of everything we created.

    How do you see Accountancy Training evolving into the future?

    Again, I think technology plays a big part. We need to make sure that what we offer is matching the next generation’s expectations.


    OnDemand is a new flexible way of learning, that combines the structure of the classroom with the convenience and flexibility of virtual study. Find out more about OnDemand.

  • Kaplan Heritage: An Interview With Alumnus, Jatinder Sharma

    by User Not Found | Feb 27, 2017

    There is no better way to understand an industry, or a company, than through the individuals that represent it.

    As part of our Kaplan Heritage celebration, we interviewed a selection of people who have been part of our story over the years: tutors, apprentices, current students, and those who are part of our Accountancy Training alumni.

    We asked them about their personal experiences with Kaplan, some of which relate to memories dating as far back as 30 years ago.

    Jatinder Sharma is a high achieving alumnus of Kaplan Financial. He was awarded an OBE in the 2015 New Year’s Honours List for his services to Further Education. The way in which Jatinder has developed, and transferred, his accounting skills to the education sector is insightful as much as it is inspiring.

    Could you please provide a brief introduction to yourself and your role at Walsall College?

    I was appointed the Principal and Chief Executive of Walsall College in December 2011. I started my journey at Walsall College in 2004  as Director of Finance. I later became Vice Principal, and in 2011, I applied for the role of Principal. It’s not directly a financial role but my finance skills are actually very relevant.

    How has your Financial background been relevant to your role as Chief Executive and Principal of Walsall College?

    99% of my time is spent thinking about the budget and keeping the business on the ground: money management, financial management and governance stewardship are therefore very useful skills to have. There have been year on year funding cuts in the education sector. This is the current biggest challenge facing colleges. As you can imagine, any loss making industry isn’t sustainable. This is why we have to manage our money very carefully. It can be a challenge: getting everyone to think like a business leader within the context of the education sector is not always easy.

    What qualifications did you take, and what did you study with Kaplan?

    I enrolled with FTC (now Kaplan) as a student back in 1998. Stuart Pedley Smith (Head of Learning at Kaplan) was one of my tutors back then; I have a lot of respect and admiration for him. I studied ACCA over a 3 year period. It was on a weekend basis, whilst working full time, and was 100% classroom based.

    What is your favourite memory of studying at Kaplan?

    All our tutors were superb, as you can imagine. Both the tutors and students were very driven, so we were all very determined to succeed. The sheer confidence and professionalism of the tutors was fantastic. They were at the top of their game, and taught in a very engaging way. Without the support of the tutors, I don’t think we would’ve gotten through. Everyone found the Financial Management module very hard, and I was no exception. But in the end, I got my highest mark on that subject.

    Are you still in touch with anyone from Kaplan? Or others who were on your course?

    On a professional basis, you do regularly bump into people you’ve studied with.

    What do you see as the most important factors when creating a successful educational environment?

    The college was awarded an ‘Outstanding’ grade by Ofsted in February 2013. We are ranked the 5th best college in the country. The reason why we are outstanding is because we are very clear with where we want to go. To be a successful college, you’ve got to have clear and concise material, but above all you must have outstanding teachers. Just like the ones I worked with at Kaplan. People who can simplify very complex things and make it digestible are important. Also, teachers “who are good to be around” are a must. It’s not just the teachers though; it’s the other staff, the pupils, the materials, everything. Every aspect of the educational institution has to work to its full potential.

    How has technology and the online environment changed education in recent years, and do you see technology playing a much larger role in the future?

    No doubt technology has played a huge part in accessing materials. We’ve won many awards for the adoption of technology in teaching, although I do not think the technology can entirely replace the teacher. Technology has its part to play as a great support method, but for me, face to face interaction is essential.

    What has been your proudest career achievement?

    Undoubtedly taking a struggling college and making it outstanding. My finance skills were important when it came to interpreting the data and using  financial expertise. As you mature, you become more aware of the human capital element in a business, and you should make sure that people are central to the decision making so that they are on that journey with you. We now have a 95% student pass rate, money in the bank, and state of the art facilities. I am very proud of what we have achieved, but I did not do this all on my own. You need all of the team onboard to be successful.

    If you had to do it all again, but in a different career, what career would that be?

    I’d find it hard to imagine working in any other industry. The reason I went into Accountancy was the fact that every business in the world needs a finance expert. Yes, business is changing, but Accountancy will always play a vital role. If I did it again, I would probably work a bit harder, but that’s all I can say. I’m glad I’ve been able to apply my finance skills to an exciting industry such as education. I’m currently trying to convince my son to get into Accountancy, but he wants to be a Doctor.  If I had the chance, I would take the same career path all over again.  I enjoy it immensely.

  • Level 7 Accountancy Trailblazer Standard due soon

    by Cassandra Macdonald | Feb 09, 2017

    With Level 3 and 4 Trailblazer standards ready for delivery, Level 7 is not far behind and we anticipate that it will be ready in time for the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April.

    Level 7 is equivalent to a Master’s degree and will include a full Accountancy Professional qualification such as:

    • ICAEW
    • ACCA
    • CTA
    • CIMA
    • CIPFA
    • ICAS

    Anyone, including Accounting graduates, can complete this Apprenticeship – apart from those who have a Masters degree in Accounting and Finance but in order to be eligible for either Levy funding or government funding (for non or marginal Levy payers), the student cannot have an equivalent Level 7 (Masters) qualification.

    To find out more about the Level 7 please download our factsheet.

    To find out more about trailblazer standards or the Apprenticeship Levy please get in touch or fill in the form to request a callback.

  • 2016 exam results – Kaplan students, winning more prizes

    by Sharon Cooper | Jan 12, 2017

    The start of a new year is always a good time to reflect on achievements from the past twelve months. Therefore, it seems appropriate that we should acknowledge the success of our prize winning students from 2016.

    Last year we had 15 students who were prize winners for their CIMA course (1st – 5th place in the world, for their exam result). An extra 22 students were commendation winners (6th – 10th place in the world).

    Additionally, 2016 also saw our students pick up a total of 23 awards for their exceptionally high exam results, when studying for their ACA qualification.

    Finally, ACCA offered cause for further acknowledgement – with 3 medal winners, and 8 1st place prize winners. December’s results are still to be confirmed.

    A huge congratulations to all of the Kaplan students who continue to excel and qualify with flying colours. A fantastic achievement.

    We look forward to hearing news of further prize winners, when the remaining results from last year are announced.

  • CIMA Certificate - 2017 syllabus explained

    by User Not Found | Jan 11, 2017

    FREE webinar – Watch the recording

    Speaker – Sally Brummitt, Head of CIMA Certificate Product

    The new Certificate in Business Accounting (Cert BA) was introduced on 11th January 2017, and as of this date students are no longer able to take exams on the old 2011 syllabus.

    The biggest difference of the new syllabus is the removal of the C03 Business Mathematics subject, which will be spread across the four subjects:

    • BA1 Fundamentals of Business Economics
    • BA2 Fundamentals of Management Accounting
    • BA3 Fundamentals of Financial Accounting
    • BA4 Fundamentals of Ethics, Corporate Governance and Business Law

    Sally Brummitt, Kaplan’s Head of CIMA Certificate Product, discusses the main changes to the BA Certificate and how these changes will affect students who are moving from the old syllabus to the new one.

  • Your CIMA studies should fit around you, not your training provider

    by User Not Found | Dec 14, 2016

    Learning that’s built around you. It’s a simple statement but one that’s becoming more important in a world where time is precious and life’s ‘to do’ list only ever seems to get bigger. We all work harder than ever before, so finding time to study shouldn’t be hard too.

    We’ve listened to feedback from students like you, to make major improvements to all of our CIMA courses, so they better match the way you sit on-demand exams.

    The result – a promise that no matter which study method you choose, you’ll have the confidence, flexibility and support to pass your exams. It’s learning that’s built around you.

    Instant tutor response

    “I want help quickly so I can resolve issues  while they’re fresh in my mind.”

    Fitting in time to study can be hard, so you want it to be as productive as possible. If you get stuck, our tutors are available to contact instantly via Live Chat, or you can email us or request a callback. We’re staying open longer too with tutors available for all CIMA students on evenings and weekends.

    More practice questions

    “I learn best from doing lots of practice  questions and I like knowing there are lots of resources available to learn from.”

    Practice, practice, practice. Almost everyone we spoke to said they prepared for exams using question practice. You’ll have access to hundreds of questions per subject. Work through them all or create your own tests to target certain areas. And finish your preparation with up to 4 marked mock exams. You’ll get personalised feedback showing the questions you got right and wrong, with explanations for each answer.

    Efficient structured approach

    “It would really help me to have someone  who can steer me in the right direction so I can use my time to study effectively”

    Rather than just giving you lots of extra materials, we will recommend the most effective ways to use them and how best to navigate through the syllabus. This means you can focus your study time efficiently and ensure you’ve covered off everything you need before you sit the exam.

    Everything in one course

    “It’s reassuring to know I have all of the resources I’ll need so I don’t need to worry about having to buy anything extra.”

    Go into the exam feeling confident, knowing your complete course contains everything you need to pass. Work through tuition, revision and question practice with a range of online resources covering 100% of the syllabus. You’ll also receive printed official CIMA study materials – the only materials reviewed and approved by CIMA.

    Proactive tutor support

    “I’d like regular contact with my tutor so I know if I’m starting to fall behind.”

    Need some extra motivation? You can request proactive tutor support at no extra cost. We’ll make regular contact with you to keep you on track and check you’re progressing at a rate you’re comfortable with.

    More regular start dates

    “I’d like to have more course start dates to help me plan my time better.”

    Don’t wait 3 months for the next timetabled class to start. We’re putting on more Classroom and Live Online start dates, so you’ll never have to wait more than a few weeks to start a tutor-led course.

    If you choose OnDemand you can choose to start whenever suits your schedule whilst still having the confidence of a structured, efficient programme to work through.

    To find out more about our new CIMA courses,  visit, or call  our friendly customer service team on 01908 540 069.

  • Film review - The Accountant

    by Neil DaCosta, Senior Tax Tutor & Sharon Cooper, Web Content Executive | Nov 08, 2016

    On 1st November 2016, the ACCA invited several members of Kaplan Financial to attend a VIP screening of the new movie, ‘The Accountant’, starring Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick (from ‘Pitch Perfect’).


    Ben Affleck plays Christian Wolff, an autistic mathematical genius, who carries out forensic fraud detection for criminals ranging from drug cartels to arms dealers. 

    He conceals his identity from his dangerous clientele behind the cover of a rural CPA (Certified Public Accountant) offering tax advice to local businesses. However, when threatened, the mild-mannered accountant transforms into a Jason Bourne style vigilante, dispensing justice to anyone who violates his moral code.


    It’s an entertaining action film with an A-list cast who deliver solid performances. The story progresses at a fairly steady pace with lots of narrative detail interspersed with flashbacks and action sequences. Moments of humour and unexpected plot twists make this a thoroughly enjoyable film to watch.

    The actual portrayal of forensic accountancy is limited to the investigation of a million-dollar fraud in a legitimate client, Living Robotics. Dana Cummings uncovers discrepancies in her role as an in-house accountant and brings it to the attention of the Board of Directors. 

    The actual process of uncovering the $61 million embezzlement does illustrate the importance of methodology and painstaking reconciliation between random number payments to fictitious invoices. In that sense, it is realistic although greatly accelerated by Christian being a maths savant. 

    While accountants are noted for discretion and confidentiality, he dramatically writes down numbers on the glass wall of a conference room in a similar portrayal to the maths genius played by Matt Damon in the brilliant 1997 movie, Good Will Hunting. Ironically, the screenplay to this movie was also co-written by Ben Affleck.

    Portrayal of accounts and accountancy

    With regards to how the film portrays accountancy as a profession, it doesn’t do much to break stereotypes. Both Christian and Dana are seen to be socially awkward and choose to eat their lunch alone in the park whilst wearing pocket protectors. 

    They are made out to be boring individuals more comfortable with numbers than real people. Consequently, they are viewed as easy prey to the villains of the film. The contrast comes when you see Christian switching to lethal sniper armed with anti-aircraft ammunition, making this hugely entertaining escapism for the audience.

    Dealing with relevant issues

    For those of you exploring a career in forensic accounting, it’s unlikely to be as glamorous or as dangerous as Christian Wolff finds it. However, the movie does deal with two important relevant issues. 

    The first is money laundering and the use of off-shore companies and hidden assets (such as an original Jackson Pollack painting and first edition comic books worth millions). 

    Secondly, it raises the ethical dilemma faced by whistle-blowers the world over, ‘How do you deal with powerful people who have secrets they want to hide?’ It takes a great deal of courage and personal sacrifice to tell the truth. Fortunately, in Christian’s autistic world there is only black and white, right and wrong.

    The real world with its shades of grey and the need for compromise and self-preservation is very different.

  • Interview with a Production Accountant

    by User Not Found | Nov 02, 2016

    If you’ve ever wanted to use your accountancy skills to work in the film or television industry, the role of a production accountant could be for you. Production accountants are a vital part of film and television production management, and are responsible for a wide variety of tasks such as calculating finances, preparing schedules and budgets, checking spend against budget and much more. 

    We recently spoke to Rebecca Wolf, a production accountant who has worked on all sorts of films ranging from small, independent movies to big Hollywood blockbusters, to find out more about what being a production accountant involves.

    Could you tell us about some of the films you have worked on?

    I have worked my way up from a trainee assistant to a Financial Controller and during that time I have got to work on all sorts of productions.  They have ranged in budget size from the tiny, such as Strawberry Fields, through the midsize right up to the big budget blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean and Maleficent.  Some are projects that I am very proud to have worked on such as The Queen, The Young Victoria and a project due out next year currently entitled Breathe

    What might an average day look like for you as a production accountant?

    There is no such thing as an average day for a production accountant and that is one of the reasons that I find it so enjoyable.  We work on a weekly cycle during which we will be reviewing budgets and spend, monitoring all payments and processes and preparing a cost report at the end of each week.  The cost report in production accounting is similar to management accounts although the level of detail and the amount of forecasting of spend is much higher.

    Key features:

    • Earn at least £40,000 after qualifying as a chartered accountant
    • You’ll be budgeting and forecasting, to make sure spend is allocated properly
    • You’ll also use strong communication and management skills

    On any given day I will be dealing with any of the creative departments discussing their budget, reviewing the spend to date and predicting how much more is needed to be spent on any particular area.  I could be asked at the drop of a hat to look at the cost of shooting a section of the film, a scene or even moving a part of the filming to another location.  At all times I have to also be considering the implications of these changes on the tax incentives in every country where they apply to our production.  On top of this is the firefighting when you are told of urgent payments needed at the last minute or worse, of the big insurance claim that needs preparing because a cast member has been injured or the set has caught fire. 

    Is working in the film industry's as glamorous as we would imagine?

    Quite simply, no!  The majority of the time you are working in offices in the studios or disused office buildings. Sets are busy, they’re often dirty places, and it's frequently either too cold or too warm. However, you do get the opportunity to travel if you want and to work in places you might not otherwise visit.  Sometimes you get the chance to attend a premiere but in general it's much like any other job for glamour. It is a very friendly industry though and more often than not you get a feeling that you are all genuinely working together to achieve something, unlike in many jobs.  There is also a strange unreality in what we do - nothing is quite the same as when you are working in "the real world". 

    What's been the highlight of your career so far?

    I don't think I could pick just one. Every job I get to work on is a new experience and incomparable to the previous one. I suppose getting the chance to break into the industry has to be very important to me, even today it can be hard to get your first break unless you know someone in the business. 

    What's been your favourite job to work on?

    I should say the one I'm on now in case anyone I'm working with should stumble across this!  What makes a job great is the team you are working with, both in accounts and across the other departments.  I have been lucky to work with a lot of people who have become good friends and made jobs so enjoyable.  If I was to pick I would say The Queen because it was my first experience of location work and I am very proud of contributing to such a great final film.  Then there's A Hundred Streets, a film which was much harder to get made and more stressful for everyone but because of these challenges felt so rewarding when it was done. 

    How did you get into accountancy and in particular production accounting?

    I started off as an archaeologist having studied it at university. The other option open to me would have been maths but I felt that could only lead to a career in accountancy which I was determined not to do. After several years of post-university denial, I took a job as a bookkeeper and discovered how much accounts pleased my analytical and logical mind.  I moved into practice studying for my ACCA and stayed in practice in Dorset for several years.

    I decided to move back to London, but knew I didn't want to be on practice there. For years I had seen the job title "production accountant" in film credits and wondered how I could get to do that.  I Googled the job, came across the Production Guild’s Assistant Production Accountant Training Scheme just days before the closing date for applications.  I was lucky enough to be accepted onto the 3rd scheme to be run. From there it was just a case of working my way up the ranks taking the learning/promotion opportunities whenever they arise.

    What appealed to you about production accounting?

    It wasn't practice, it was forever changing, the office politics are much less, I get to work as and when I choose and at the end of the job there is a product that is tangible and that I can be proud of. 

    What made you decide to study ACCA, and do you think it's beneficial to a career in production accounting?

    I was in practice and it was just "luck" that I ended up training at an ACCA practice instead of an ACA one. It's not really beneficial to production accounting in that it does not affect whether someone employees me - even today the majority of production accountants have no formal accountancy qualifications but have learned what they need on the job.  However, the advantage I have is that the knowledge I got studying and in practice means I have a deeper understanding of why things are done certain ways and sometimes my CPD does provide me with better information on changing regulations. 

    Where else has you career in production accounting taken you?

    I have not travelled extensively in the role, mainly because of the timing of opportunities. However I have worked all across England and Scotland. My one full foreign location job was based in Budapest but I am about to head to Malta for several weeks on the current show. 

    Would you recommend a career in production accounting?

    I would recommend a career in production accounting as it is very enjoyable.  However, you need to be happy to work in a high pressure, time sensitive environment which once it gets up to full pace doesn’t have any lulls in the work load until the project is finished.  The hours are extremely long, the basic is 8am to 7pm at least 5 days a week and there are often hours worked beyond that.  It’s very hard to explain to people working in more normal industries but the best way to explain is to compare it to month ends in a large multinational happening every week with all the other processing that normally gets put on hold having to happen at the same time. 

    If someone wanted to get into a role like yours, what advice would you give?

    Contact the Production Guild first - they still run the training scheme for people but they are also always being asked by accountants if they know of anyone trying to break into the industry.  Be prepared to start in a very junior role and possibly even reporting to people much less experience in accounts and younger than yourself.  Be prepared to go back to having to do the filing and the tea making!    On a more personal note – if you do make the switch, be prepared to lose some friends!  Most people will understand that your work causes you to disappear off the radar for weeks and months on end but some will not grasp why you can’t finish early once in a while to go out, or why you are too tired even to send a text! 

    Thank you, Rebecca!

    If you want to find out more about working as a production accountant, you may find the following resources useful:

    Production Guild

    Creative Skillset

  • Sleep and study

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 14, 2021

    We discuss why sleep can impact how we learn and why it is fundamental to our mental health.

    This week our host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of learning here at Kaplan, explores the topic of sleep, how it affects how we learn and our mental health.

    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 Dr Nishi Bhopal, Psychiatrist and Sleep Specialist, explains how fundamental sleep is to your mental health and how we learn. Focusing on consolidation, one of the three primary aspects to learning, she helps to provide understanding as to why sleep deprivation can affect your recall of information.

    Sharing top tips on how to get the best night's sleep, Dr Bhopal points out how obsessing over the amount of sleep you get can actually have a further negative impact on your mental health and your amount of sleep. She explains that although sleep should be a priority, you need to listen to your body rather than focusing on a specific time.

    Key topics

    What is sleep?

    Sleep is a state of being where your awareness of your environment and environmental stimuli is reduced. Similar to hibernation and being in a coma, the main difference is sleep can be rapidly reversed.

    The three primary aspects of learning

    There are three primary aspects of learning: acquisition, consolidation and recall. Sleep is most important to the consolidation aspect. This is when we file away the information into the correct places to help us when it comes to recalling it at a later date. During this phase we also get rid of any extraneous information that we don't need to know. Sleep deprivation can cause consolidation of information to be impacted.

    I visualize the brain almost like an office, where you’ve got multiple filing cabinets, and with sleep deprivation you can imagine you have an office with papers everywhere. Nothing is filed in the right places.

    Top tips for a good night's sleep

    • Get into bed and get up at the same time each day - Having a routine can really help you to sleep better as well as combat the symptoms of “social jetlag”.

    • Don’t get into bed until you are sleepy - Although this sounds counter intuitive, we need to make sure that you associate being in bed with sleep. Lying in bed for hours on your phone will cause your body to instead associate being in bed with being awake, causing you to struggle to sleep well.

    • Find something to help you unwind and relax - Lots of people struggle to fall asleep as their mind is active and thinking about different things and trying to solve problems. This can make it hard to fall asleep, and so doing something that helps distract your mind and relax you before going to bed can be really beneficial in helping you get to sleep.

    Sleep deprivation and the impact on mental health

    Sleep and mental health are directly related, in fact they have a bidirectional relationship. This means that when you aren’t sleeping well it affects your mental health and when you are experiencing issues with mental health it causes issues with sleep. However, there are several different things you can do to help you have a good night's sleep.

    It’s really hard to improve your depression and anxiety, reduce stress levels and of course optimise learning without adequate sleep.

    The economic issue of sleep

    Sleep deprivation can impact the economy financially. In the US it has been noted that workers lose an average of about 11 days of productivity each year due to sleep issues*.

    Some large companies have even implemented nap rooms into their offices to help their workers get the sleep they need to increase their productivity.

    Tune in now to find out more.

    *Sourced from the Washington Post.

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