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  • Accountancy around the world

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 15, 2023

    While a gap year is very popular, everyone has a different experience. You may find this to be a trip of a lifetime that will help provide clarity on your future career goals, or it might just be an expensive holiday. But, if you work in finance, you may find that you can get the best experience while still earning money and working abroad.

    In this episode of our Learn Better Podcast, host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan, looks at accountancy all around the world with guest, Dominic Horne.

    Dominic is a Senior Manager at Robert Walters, one of the world’s leading specialists in professional recruitment. Robert Walters has over 4000 employees worldwide and operates in over 30 countries.

    Dominic and Stuart discuss everything about accountancy around the world.

    Key topics discussed

    Dominic's career journey

    Dominic opted not to go to university after leaving full-time education and went straight into employment while studying AAT and then ACCA. He discusses how he contacted Robert Walters for them to help him find a career in finance, yet this resulted in him working with their company.

    He shares more details of his job role and how he works with clients and candidates domestically and internationally.

    Speech marks

    “I’ve seen and worked with businesses that I never knew existed.”

    Skills: Finance, technical and personal

    Dominic talks about his personal and professional skills, highlighting that he is a natural people-person who can read people and dissect what’s important to them.

    As well as Dominic’s personal skills, he also mentions the skills that are usually expected from all accountants, such as attention to detail, analytical thinking and resilience. He highlights the technical and personal skills needed in a finance role while talking about his experience of the dramatic shift in clients who seek technically skilled professionals.

    Speech marks

    “Good, strong technical accountants are in demand globally”

    While a finance career is transferable across many different countries, they also talk more specifically about the requirements that are sought after for those who wish to relocate for work. One key message is that the IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) is generally accepted worldwide, so it’s important to have a working and proficient knowledge of those and how to apply them.

    Travelling and working

    Stuart and Dominic offer advice to listeners who are looking to work abroad. He mentions the sponsorship and language requirements in specific countries, as well as the most popular destinations for professionals.

    Aside from the international element of his role, Dominic also highlights the rise in sustainability concerns amongst candidates and clients.

    Speech marks

    “We’re seeing a lot of the younger talent coming through and caring about the social position of the business and what they’re doing to give back to society.”

    Do your homework

    Dominic and Stuart talk about the importance of doing your research before moving abroad to work. Discussing the possibility of secondments, and asking yourself questions such as do you have a support network in the country?

    They also talk through many different options to work abroad, making the most out of your situation, and how different nations require different levels of qualifications or experience.

    Speech marks

    “If you want a career in finance, it is infinitely better to pursue a qualification than not.”

    Listen to the full conversation

    Dominic shares many tips, advice and his experience with Stuart throughout the podcast. Listen to the full episode (episode 29) online now.

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  • How CIMA's CGMA changes will impact your career

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 13, 2023

    The CIMA® (Chartered Institute of Management Accounting) Professional Qualification is now called the CGMA® (Chartered Global Management Accountant) Professional Qualification.

    Although the name has changed, there have been no changes to the syllabus, CIMA membership, or the reputation of CGMA designation holders. But instead, it helps to align the terminology to create one globally recognised standard for management accounting. Crucially, the CGMA designation remains a CIMA qualification.

    What is CGMA?

    Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) is the most widely held management accounting designation in the world*, and is awarded to CIMA members upon completion of the Professional Qualification, this remains unchanged. By adding CGMA to the name of the Professional Qualification, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants® intend to reinforce its significance with employers and the management accountant community. In the Association’s own words, “the CGMA designation deserves to be seen, not just heard.”

    How do I obtain the CGMA designation?

    If you’re studying for your CIMA Professional Qualification, the good news is that you don’t need to do anything extra! Other than, of course, studying for your Professional qualification and working hard. Once you have completed this, including completing the practical experience requirements (PER) and becoming a CIMA member, you’ll automatically be entitled to the CGMA designation.

    What does this mean for me?

    As the only change to the Professional Qualification is the name, CIMA members will continue to have all the same opportunities as before, with the added benefit of increased global recognition. As this recognition builds, your opportunities as a CGMA designation holder will only expand, it should make you excited for an extremely bright future ahead.

    The world is your oyster

    To begin with, CGMA designation holders can treat the entire world as their job market offering you a wide range of international opportunities and job prospects.

    The Association states: “Having these designatory letters tells the world you’re a trusted business strategist with the ability to connect all aspects of business to drive sustainable success. It says you have a commitment to professional ethics and a code of conduct.

    Backed by a powerful array of benefits, your CGMA designation will let you stay connected to the pulse of your profession and become a champion for the business.” **

    Progress your career further

    It’s no secret that you may aim to progress more and more throughout your career in accounting and finance. You would usually do this by specialising in specific areas or by seeking promotions within your current workplace.

    The CGMA competency framework provides the foundations for the Professional Qualification, so as a learner, you’ll be developing the right mix of skills and knowledge that employers will be looking for. The Framework is made up of four skill areas which can significantly develop your technical, business, leadership and people skills, which gives you the foundations to progress your career and stand out from the competition.

    Ready to start your CGMA journey?

    Take the first step towards earning the CGMA designation and browse our courses online.

    *AICPA & CIMA, Your journey to the CGMA® designation
    ** AICPA & CIMA, Earning CIMA’s CGMA® Professional Qualification

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  • Study techniques that will help you pass

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 09, 2023

    Whether you’re coming back from a break from studying, advancing your career prospects, or kickstarting your accounting journey after full-time education, you will still find that studying can be very challenging.

    Everyone learns differently, and when preparing for an exam, you’ll likely feel stressed or nervous about the big day. This can lead to procrastination, mistakes, and fear that the content won’t sink in.

    We’ve put together a list of study techniques that might help you remember all of the content while studying for your exam. Let’s have a look at which ones may be best for you.

    The Pomodoro Technique

    Focusing for 25 minutes, taking a break for 5 minutes.

    The Pomodoro Technique gets its name after a tomato-shaped timer was used to test the method for the first time. This is a great way to maximise your study time while getting the most out of it. For this, you will be encouraged to break up your studying into more manageable chunks by using timed intervals.

    During a 25-minute study period, focus on one task without interruption or a break. Afterwards, reward yourself with a five-minute break before returning to studying again. This will make the most daunting topics become more approachable and can make a real difference when it comes to efficiency and productivity.

    Spaced repetition method

    Studying content repeatedly over time.

    If you need to learn new things quickly, the spaced repetition method may work well for you. This is a great technique for memorising and retaining information.

    To follow this technique, you will need to study the same material repetitively at increasing intervals of time. So, you’ll take a look at something during your first study session and then review it again a few days later. With each re-exposure, you’ll imprint the information deeper into your memory.

    This is a useful way to get additional studying done without breaking away from other study techniques such as the Pomodoro. As you use spaced repetition more and more, let it empower you to remember things quicker.


    Highlighting and underlining key points.

    Taking notes is probably the most common method of studying. It helps to write notes during lectures or reading material when learning a topic for the first time. You can then try to study your notes by highlighting and underlining keywords and points. Highlighting your notes can help to keep information organised in your mind, which ultimately makes it easier to remember when revising for exams.

    However, there are some cons to this method. For example, if you write notes quickly, they can get a bit messy, making them hard to read and understand. Note-form content is also usually a lot shorter than what you’ll find in the textbook or through video content, and you’ll also need to find the balance between highlighting and summarising content with keywords.

    If highlighting and underlining keywords is helpful for you, a good way to ensure that you’re taking in detailed content while highlighting and understanding is by using content-specific resources. For example, e-books and printed materials that you can find online through Kaplan Publishing are great for learning relevant information while making notes.


    Using rhymes and phrases.

    Memorisation can be tricky, but there's an easy way to make it easier: mnemonics.

    Mnemonics involve using simple phrases, rhymes, visual images, and keywords to create memorable connections. For example, if you needed to memorise the colours of a rainbow, you can link them with phrases like "Richard of York gave battle in vain" (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). Using mnemonics makes mastering difficult material much simpler.

    One mnemonic that you may find helpful, particularly for ACCA indicators of threats in units focusing on ethics, is ‘FULL STOP.’

    FULL STOP for ethics - indicators of threats

    Friends and family

    Undue fee dependence

    Loans to/from


    Shares in client

    Taking gifts and hospitality

    Overdue fees

    Provision to the other services


    Testing yourself by remembering facts, definitions, and keywords.

    Making flashcards is a great tool for revising for an exam. They can help you memorise and retain information and are also great to pair with the spaced repetition method.

    You can create flashcards by writing phrases, facts, definitions, or other information on one side of a card, and a key word on the other. When reading the keyword, test yourself by trying to remember the facts on the other side. This is a common and effective way of remembering content for an exam.

    If you don’t have much time or would prefer not to write your own flashcards, we have plenty of options available for specific courses through Kaplan Publishing. For example, our AAT Principles of Bookkeeping (POBC) Pocket Notes provides a pocket-sized overview of the content that you’ll find in the exam kits and study texts.

    For more information read Kaplan’s Head of Learning, Stuart Pedley-Smith, blog about the use of flashcards and the best ways you can use them to study.

    The elimination method

    Eliminate any unhelpful techniques.

    When you’re starting your studying or revision, it can feel like there’s an overwhelming amount of information in front of you. Usually, it’s the amount of content that leads to stress when studying, so the elimination method can help to calm those nerves.

    This elimination method helps you sort through the different available techniques and determine which ones are the most effective for you. Write down every strategy and technique, then eliminate them one by one until only the most successful methods for your study goals remain. For example, if you’re looking for a way to stay focused, you may consider the Pomodoro Technique. Whereas if you need to remember processes and rules, the mnemonic technique may be your priority.

    Ultimately this method can help you make the right decisions when it comes to studying so that staying focused and productive doesn't feel like mission impossible.

    Ready to get started?

    Have a look through our range of courses that will help you advance your career, and get into your studies. And if you need more study tips, have a look at our blog for more help and advice.

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  • ICAEW members: Reaching out for help when needed

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 25, 2023

    In this episode of our Learn Better Podcast, host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan, discusses how to cope with life’s challenges and how to ask for help.

    Our guest is Gareth Winters, Relationship Development Officer for CABA (Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association), the independent occupational charity for the ICAEW community. In his role, Gareth gets to talk to a whole variety of different people, at different stages in their lives and careers, but what makes his observations interesting is that they all work in the world of finance and are seeking help in some way to get them and their lives back on track.

    Key topics

    What is CABA?

    Gareth and Stuart discuss what CABA is, and what they do. CABA was originally set up by a Chartered Accountant to support other Chartered Accountants with financial assistance. However, as the business has developed over time, while financial assistance is still at the core, they have additional elements which focus on mental health, physical health, financial well-being, career advice, and legal advice, for example. The overall purpose is to support and help ICAEW members thrive both personally and professionally.

    Gareth’s career journey

    Gareth was originally an actor and discusses how communication is the strong link between acting and his current role at CABA. Aside from his career journey, they discuss what Gareth does on a day-to-day basis. This includes meeting people from firms, businesses or sole traders, or speaking with teams within ICAEW to ensure that they are aware of exactly what CABA do and what support is available, as having access to CABA is one of the benefits of being an ICAEW member.

    Speech marks

    “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

    The purpose of CABA

    Within the financial and accounting profession, asking for support can be one of the biggest barriers. While many people in the industry will need to show strength, with examples such as providing data-driven advice and solutions to clients, they feel like they can’t be seen as weak.

    However, Gareth highlights that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. The courage that it can take to say the words: “Can you help me,” can be extremely difficult, and rather than suffering in silence, it’s important to start that conversation.

    Speech marks

    “If you take your car into the garage, you’ll take it before it breaks down. Counselling is about managing yourself better, rather than leaving it to a crisis point.”

    Examples of support

    Gareth tells an anecdote about a previous individual that CABA has helped, whose life changed suddenly as a family member was admitted into hospital and he had to take care of two children. The financial pressures and time pressures led to negative consequences, such as failing an exam and temporarily splitting from his wife. However, after this, the individual reached out, which led to a much more positive outcome.

    However, the lesson from this is that it’s important to open up and start the conversation by asking for help, as the story could have been very different if the individual was more open to showing vulnerability.

    CABA consultants

    CABA have specialised trainers for different areas such as mental health, healthy eating habits, and moods, for example. They will draw upon those depending on the training sessions or individual situations.

    Support officers in CABA will make independent referrals depending on the needs, and this can be different depending on the person and it’s not all black and white. There can be so many different areas that feed into one emotion or challenge that they aim to address all aspects.

    Perception of accountants

    Stuart and Gareth discuss Gareth’s perception of accountants before and after joining CABA. Gareth saw accountants as very driven, highly intellectual and financially wealthy. However, after three years at CABA, he’s found that not all accountants are financially wealthy, and just because they are skilled in this area doesn’t mean that they are immune to life’s challenges and they may still find themselves in financial hardships and worries.

    He expands on through the mention of a recent survey which was conducted that found that accountants are also hit by the global cost of living crisis, and there are different levels to what an accountant could be earning, from apprentices and learners to fully qualified.

    Gareth highlights how “accountants are human,” while the top four areas that people ask for advice on are emotional well-being and support, legal advice, career advice, and financial assistance.

    How to ask for support

    If you are an ICAEW member, you can call CABA where someone will talk to you on the phone and understand what your challenges are. You may find support in the blog articles, webinars, and resources available on the website, but other cases can be helped with professional or personal coaching.

    Generally, you would have around five sessions with the counsellor or coach, where you’ll work towards a strategy on how to get to where you want to go. Gareth mentions that even if you are coming to CABA for counselling, they would still recommend that you also contact your registered GP for support.

    Waiting lists

    If you contact the telephone helpline, someone would likely speak to you on the phone straight away. However, this will only take you so far. Therefore, if you are referred to an external partner, you’ll generally be spoken to within a week. Comparing this to other waiting lists for mental health or support, there is a huge difference.

    For non-ICAEW members, the website, blog articles, and e-learning resources are also available for free.

    Listen to the full episode

    To hear the full conversation between Gareth Winters and Stuart Pedley-Smith, head over to our Learn Better podcast now.

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  • A story about Live Online learning: How to get better results

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 18, 2023

    “Do I need to attend live online ‘live,’ or can I just watch the recording?” an inquisitive learner asked.

    “That depends,” said the wise teacher “what do you want to achieve?"

    “That’s easy,” says the learner, “I want to learn enough to succeed in my exams and apprenticeship."

    “Ah, I see,” said the wise teacher, “so all I need to do is advise as to which is the most effective way to learn?”

    To learn, you first need to give your attention. Think of it as a beam of light that can only shine on one object at a time. And then you should fully engage. This is the degree to which you are actively involved, interested, and invested. These are the prerequisites of learning and are essential if you are to do it well. The truth is you can be attentive and engaged attending a live online class or watching the recording, but they require significantly different amounts of motivation and effort. And, as you might imagine, watching a recording rather than attending live requires far more of both.

    Watching the recording can also result in the worst of both worlds. Firstly, a live delivery is designed with engagement in mind as you will be encouraged to contribute and think. This might be in the form of answering a chat panel question, entering a break out room or giving an opinion in a poll. These will not be engaging activities when watched afterwards, and most people will probably just fast forward them.Yet, they are hugely valuable when it comes to learning. Secondly, live lectures are not meant to be watched after the event. You can’t search for specific sections or topics, you can’t ask questions, in fact you can do little more than go forward or back.

    If making life easier is not enough, research undertaken by Credé, Roch, and Kieszczynka in 2010 showed a strong link between attendance and exam success. In fact, they went on to say that class attendance was a better predictor of college grades than any other known predictor of academic performance. Although this research used data from attending classroom lectures rather than live online, many of the principles are the same. These results are borne out by our own data. For example, learners studying AAT are 11% more likely to pass their exam if they attend live.

    And if you weren’t already aware, the minimum percentage of live attendance you need to have at Kaplan is 90%. Sometimes there are good reasons why you can’t be there live, such as illness, which is why we provide recordings after the live session to enable you to catch up.

    Watching the recording after attending live can also be helpful in reinforcing what you have learned, or just confirming something by way of fact checking. But if you are looking for the most effective way of learning, the wise teacher would always advise you to attend live because it’s not only easier and more engaging, it can contribute to your exam and apprenticeship success.

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  • How to obtain the skills marks in the ICAEW BPT exam

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 17, 2023

    Academic Support tutor, Hywel Smith, has provided some tips and guidance on how to pass your ICAEW BPT exam and gain those important skills marks.

    The two tax papers for the ICAEW Professional level are very different. Whereas the Tax Compliance (TC) exam is mainly computational and focuses on technical knowledge, in the Business Planning: Taxation (BPT) exam, less than half of the marks are available for technical knowledge and up to 75% of the marks are available for technical “skills.”

    So, what are some of these key technical skills and how do we earn the marks available for them? The ICAEW break them down into four different areas, although there is some overlap with some of the skills falling into more than one area.

    Assimilating and using information

    Skills under this heading include:

    Spotting key issues and risks. The BPT exam has been described as being about ‘spotting elephants and not mice,’ i.e. avoiding getting too bogged down in detailed calculations or minor issues and focusing on the issues which can potentially have a significant impact on tax liabilities and responsibilities of the client.

    Following instructions. We need to make sure we are clear on who we are advising and use the information to do that. For example, if a company is being sold, is our client the buyer or the seller? There will be skill marks for sticking to the brief and avoiding making points that may be relevant to another party but not our client.

    Identifying missing information and where further information is required. To replicate real-life scenarios you are often deliberately given incomplete information in the exam. Skills marks can be gained by spotting where this is the case, making sensible assumptions (see below) and stating that we need to check or get further information.

    Structuring problems and solutions

    Skills under this heading include:

    Considering the Interaction of different taxes. Whilst in the TC exam different taxes are normally looked at in isolation, in the BPT exam we are usually considering the impact of a transaction on a range of taxes at the same time.

    For example, if someone is thinking of giving away assets, there will be potential IHT and CGT implications. And whereas the advice might be different if we look at either tax in isolation, we need to consider both taxes and look at the overall picture.

    Considering the impact of delaying or modifying future decisions. For example, considering whether a transfer should be made via a lifetime gift or waiting until death, or considering the timing of the appointment of a liquidator in conjunction with the winding up of a company.

    Applying judgement

    Skills under this heading include:

    Showing scepticism towards the information in the question. We shouldn’t automatically assume that the information that we have been given is completely accurate. There are sometimes red flags in the question that the source of the information is not reliable, especially with regard to the ethics parts of the question. Picking up on this and stating that we should double-check some of the information will pick us up skills marks

    Making sensible assumptions. In general, and following on from the points above about missing and questionable information, we will pick up skill marks for using sensible assumptions.

    For example:

    • The taxpayer has/has not used their annual exemptions (CGT &/or IHT), nil rate band, BADR lifetime limit etc.
    • Our client has no other income
    • Tax rates will stay at similar levels in the future.

    Time management. The BPT exam is a very time-pressured paper with lots of information to digest. The total marks for a question are not broken down for each sub-question requirement, leaving learners often unsure of how much time to spend on each part. Skills marks are available for applying judgement to determine this by using the amount of information provided for each requirement as a guide to the weighting of the marks available. You should use short punchy sentences to get your points down as succinctly as possible, and you should avoid getting bogged down in calculations or in one area, accepting that there may not be enough time to cover every single issue raised in the scenario.

    Concluding, recommending and communicating

    Skills marks under this heading include:

    Making recommendations and drawing conclusions. In the BPT exam, we are giving advice, so there will be skills marks for making recommendations and drawing conclusions based on the work that we have done, even if what we have done is incorrect or contains some errors.

    There are also marks available for explaining the limitations of conclusions or recommendations (e.g. due to incomplete information, there is future uncertainty over tax rates), and presenting a justification for a specific recommended action (e.g. better for cash flow).

    Being specific to the scenario. Skills marks are earned for being specific to the scenario and referring to the precise circumstances of the client given rather than talking in general terms.

    So, in conclusion, if you can try and get as much of the above into your answer as possible then you should be able to pick up lots of these crucial skills marks and be well on your way to passing the BPT exam.

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  • The importance of data in finance

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 14, 2023

    Data is used everywhere you go. It’s difficult to comprehend how important gaining data skills and capabilities are in the workplace and general life, due to the rapid pace that data and technology are advancing.

    If you work in a finance role, you may already believe that you are interpreting data. However, it’s very likely that, without further training, your data literacy capabilities are limited. This limited knowledge could be hindering your job or organisation’s performance, without you even realising it.

    Recently, we joined a collaborative webinar with the ICAEW to showcase the importance of data. We were joined by experts in the field, Ian Pay (ICAEW) and Jim Hinchliffe (Kaplan UK) who provided key insights into the working world of data analytics.

    Event panellists

    Ian Pay

    Ian joined the ICAEW as Head of Data Analytics and Tech in March 2022, looking at the role that analytics and technology solutions play in the profession while supporting the ICAEW’s members in their exploration and development of knowledge around technology.

    Prior to this, Ian worked at PwC in Data Analytics for over ten years, specialising in External Audit and Data Acquisition and developing robust data transformation processes. He is passionate about digital upskilling and has previously trained as a secondary school teacher.

    Jim Hinchliffe

    Over the past twenty years, Jim has held various senior positions at Kaplan, including Head of Live Online and Head of Centre. Since 2017, Jim has been part of the Commercial Management team, a Strategic Account Director, and a member of the Kaplan Professional Senior Leadership Team.

    As Commercial Manager, Jim takes a keen interest in identifying opportunities within the accountancy market, notably the demand for digital skills from employers.

    Speech marks

    “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

    Key topics

    The importance of data

    Data is central to everything. There are very few aspects of a business where data isn’t needed.

    Ian touches upon a few examples of how data is used within specific departments of a business, to showcase how important the use of data is. He explains how upskilling the workforce with data skills has proven to help with testing and accuracy, identifying trends, and measuring successes and failures of projects, just to name a few.

    The need for data skills

    Why do we need data skills? Ian answers this by showing the importance of investing in data, through the use of data itself.

    Facts and figures identify how data is fundamentally changing businesses and the way in which people now work. With over 80% of CEOs investing in data, it is shown to improve efficiency and decision-making in the workplace, while data-driven organisations are suggested to be 162% more likely to improve their revenue goals.

    However, developing your data skills doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert. Yet, the softer skills surrounding data are just as important, which are to be able to understand, interpret and communicate data.

    Working with data as a finance professional

    Ian discusses how to make the most out of your data, particularly in the accounting and finance industry. Many of those working in finance may regularly use data within their job role. In fact, it would be quite worrying if you’re not already using this in some way.

    However, teams may spend the majority of their time gathering and analysing data, but with limited capabilities. This means that there is little time dedicated to actually interpreting and acting on the data that you’re gathering. So, although you may think that you are data literate, there may be a lot more training and development that can be done.

    Ian addresses the changing landscape of finance roles. Adding an interesting perspective on this landscape, Ian uses the World Economic Forum report, to explore roles that are increasing and decreasing in demand. Roles that are paired with the use and knowledge of data were found to increase significantly.

    In a nutshell, the statistics that Ian provides give evidence that the finance sector is still a great and thriving area to work in, as the skills that you hold are a key indicator of the demand for certain jobs. However, the development of data analytics skills is essential to stay relevant in the ever-changing world of technology.

    The ICAEW Data Analytics certification

    Jim highlights how you can upskill your workplace, or yourself, specifically with two different pathways. Although the pathways are tailored towards a finance perspective, the certifications are broad enough to have relevance across all industries.

    During the webinar, Jim and Ian talk more in-depth about what to expect from each pathway, the course and what you can expect.

    Pathway 1: Analyst

    This is for anyone wanting to develop their data analytic skills. Through this, you’ll develop your practical knowledge of the programming language, Python, where the skills and capabilities developed are extremely transferable, yet Python is a free platform that can still be used after your training.

    Jim mentions that through our research, we found that there are very few detailed training courses that can be applied to finance professionals specifically. Therefore, the analyst pathway provides 60 hours worth of comprehensive content for those who want to develop their skills, and apply them with the highest level of confidence.


    Pathway 2: Management

    The management pathway is shorter than the analyst, as it’s targeted towards senior management teams within an organisation. Therefore, more technical skills are not usually necessary in this case.

    Jim and Ian highlight how the management pathway will guide managers in understanding how to set objectives, understand the process of data in the business, and manage a team of technically skilled analysts.

    Demo of the certificate courses

    Jim and Ian demonstrate the course platform, providing examples of real-life case studies, the design of the course, and what this will look like. He also highlights the reasons why you would need Python in your organisation when you already have Excel, with resources that are provided on the course that explains the differences and how to bridge this knowledge gap.

    Watch the full webinar

    Watch the full webinar with Ian and Jim now and learn all about the importance of Data Analytics and the necessity of upskilling to remain future-proof in your workplace.

    Ready to upskill?

    The two pathways mentioned in the webinar are available on our website. You can find more information about the Analyst Pathway, and the Management Pathway to make an informed decision on which route is best for you.

    Use the discount code: DA2022 for a 20% discount on all ICAEW Data Analytics Certificate Programmes on Kaplan UK and Kaplan Learning until 28 April 2023.

    Upskill in Data Analytics today

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  • How to gain the highest marks in the world: Katherine Ellis’ story of studying ACA

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 10, 2023

    We recently caught up with Katherine Ellis after she won the ICAEW Annual International Orders of Merit award with first place and the Plender prize.

    At the end of 2022, Katherine completed her full ACA qualification with Kaplan. She’s now looking forward to completing her full training by September 2023, and the bright career ahead of her. However, alongside an exciting future, Katherine found out that she won first place and the Plender prize for the Professional level in December 2022 with ICAEW.

    Winning this award means that Katherine received the highest grade for the professional level. In a nutshell, she got the highest marks in the whole world. Impressive, right?

    We spoke to Katherine to gain insight into her experience when studying ACA with Kaplan, and to explore any tips or advice that she would give to aspiring learners and accountants.

    This is what she said…

    Starting a new career in accountancy

    I was good at maths in school, but I didn’t want to do just maths. So, I went on to study economics at university. During that time, I had a couple of accounting modules, so after graduating I looked into jobs in accounting and applied for an Audit role at PwC. I believe that if you have your ACA qualifications, then you have so many different options. It’s a way of opening a lot of doors.

    Challenges while studying during the pandemic

    I started my job role during COVID in September 2020. While training, the first year was fully online classrooms, and then from the second year, it was a mix of classroom and online. We started to go back into the classroom more as my studies went on and restrictions eased.

    Speech marks

    “When people ask how I’ve done so well, it’s just by keeping consistent.”

    Initially, when we were starting during COVID, that was quite tough. I think that studying online is very different to being in a classroom with a tutor. But I’m quite good at self-learning, so in the end, I quite enjoyed online learning.

    The most challenging part was the volume of content. There’s so much to take in, and covering it all to a sufficient level so that you can confidently answer a question on anything in the syllabus is probably the hardest thing.

    Studying ACA (ICAEW) with Kaplan

    I think I'd be lying if I said it’s not tough. You have to balance it with your workload. But honestly, when people ask how I’ve done so well, it’s just by keeping consistent. I think a lot of people go wrong when they try to do their work while letting their studies slide, or focus only on their studies and forget about their workload.

    So, it can get stressful and many people struggle to balance both. I studied two modules at a time for each sitting and would always focus on not letting it all take over.

    Kaplan materials and support

    I think that the question bank is honestly like your Bible. A lot of the questions are quite repetitive, or at least the structure or themes of them are. So, if you’ve done the question bank enough times, you’ll pick up an idea of the styles of questions that will be in the exam, so you can then make a plan of attack. So, the question bank is invaluable because it briefs you on what’s coming.

    I liked how my Talent Coach would frequently check in to make sure that everything was going well and that you were not too stressed. It was always a good touch point to see where I was with things, and if I had any concerns then it was nice to know that there were people there to reach out to. Sometimes I think it’s easy to think that you’re a little cog in a very big system, so it’s nice to know that you can ask for support if you have any problems.

    David Richards was always an excellent tutor. He would always make sure that everyone understood what was discussed. I had a lot of great tutors over time, but David did stand out.

    Differences between university and ACA studies

    There were topics that I had some level of initial knowledge on. However, at university, we mainly covered just the basics of accounting. So I did have some prior knowledge during a few modules, but many topics were completely new to me, like tax or law.

    The ICAEW was very different compared to my time at university. I was never in a position at university where I would be completing questions back to back, so it was a different style. But I did do a similar amount of studying to what I did at university, and the difficulty level was very similar, so I didn’t find the transition too difficult. I do think that if I came from an unrelated subject to accountancy then it would be much harder.

    The highest marks in the world

    I won two papers in 2021, and now I’ve won for the whole professional level. There were a few prizes in my workplace too during my studies. But, honestly, with this one, it was just a huge shock.

    I did well in school and university, and I think I’ve always been quite good in exams, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. I’m good at learning content and applying it in an exam setting, and being quite good at maths helped me pick up some of the content quite quickly. In my mock exams, I was getting good grades, so I went into the exams thinking that I’d pass, but you would think that there are people out there getting 100% in exams, and that would never be me.

    I wasn’t expecting to do this well, and I would have been more than happy with a passing mark. So, I couldn’t believe it, I was genuinely beyond shocked.

    Advice for future learners

    I was always someone who would come into class after at least trying to have an idea of what was coming for me. If there are any pre-module resources, I’ll always look over that stuff before starting the teaching.

    I’m also not someone who leaves it until the last minute. I would keep everything ticking over, whereas I think a lot of people might have a break between the class and the exam as they think it’s far away, but that can allow it to take over.

    I’d also say that if you’re studying ACA, you need to attempt the full question bank at least once because that means that you’ve seen everything that can come your way. It depends on what you’re aiming for, but if you’re anything like me then you need to try and do all the extra bits of studying and use all of the materials.

    Katherine’s future in accounting

    I've just been offered a new job role within PwC, so I’ll be moving from auditing to doing financial due diligence. My training has put me very well placed for the interview process. For example, if you’ve been studying for almost three years, they will expect you to have a level of knowledge to answer any technical questions.

    So, I was able to go into the interview confident that I could answer questions because, at Kaplan, they make sure you know your stuff, which is really valuable. I also think that if you’re going for a job role with strong exam marks, while being able to confidently talk about the knowledge, then you’re going to appear as a much stronger candidate.

    Speech marks

    “At Kaplan, they make sure you know your stuff.”

    The training is going to help me because financial due diligence is something that we covered in our syllabus in quite a few exams. So, when applying for the job, it was beneficial that I knew exactly what I was applying for.

    In terms of soft skills, I do also value that I am now able to process a lot of information and then apply it effectively. This will help me understand what I’m doing in my new job role so I won’t feel like I’ve been thrown into the deep end.

    Is there anything that you'd like to add?

    One thing that I would emphasise is that if you put the time and effort into it, then you will be able to do it. It’s genuinely just a case of practice. I think the reason that I did so well is that I spent a lot of time on my studies. I might have put in more hours than the average learner but the key is to just keep practising.

    Speech marks

    “If you put the time and effort into it, then you will be able to do it.”

    Also, try to make the most of your time. If you attempt a mock exam, treat it like the real one. If you’re in a classroom course, you might be in a room with all of your friends or colleagues that are in the same position. So, use that dedicated time to understand the content together. You have a lot to learn from your peers, alongside the tutor.

    Speech marks

    "Katherine Ellis achieved the highest average mark of students completing the Professional Level exams in 2022 without failing any examinations, and was awarded the Plender prize."

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  • What ACCA Strategic Professional modules should I choose?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 28, 2023

    When you get to the Strategic Professional level of ACCA, you can choose the subjects that appeal to you most, but which ones should you choose? Keep on reading for information and advice that might help you decide.

    What modules can I choose from?

    At Strategic Professional you have to do two compulsory subjects:

    • Strategic Business Leader (SBL)
    • Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)

    You also have to pick two of the following:

    • Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
    • Advanced Performance Management (APM)
    • Advanced Taxation (ATX)
    • Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)

    These are specialised exams, covering in depth articular areas of professional accountancy.

    You also have to complete the Ethics and Professional Skills Module, ideally before you start any other subject, as it’s been proven to show that those who do ESPM first have a higher chance of passing their other Strategic Professional exams.

    So which one should I choose?

    Research shows that you’re more likely to pass a particular Strategic Professional exam if you did well in the related subject from your Applied Skills exams*. The Strategic Professional Exams take the subjects from Applied Skills to a more advanced level.

    • Financial Management goes on to Advanced Financial Management
    • Performance Management goes on to Advanced Performance Management
    • Taxation goes on to Advanced Taxation
    • Audit and Assurance goes on to Advanced Audit and Assurance

    Advanced Performance Management (APM)

    This subject builds on topics covered in Performance and Financial Management in Applied Skills. It partly overlaps with topics in Strategic Business Leader as well. You’ll do well in this exam if you’re good at exercising professional judgement when selecting and applying strategic management accounting techniques in different business contexts. The exam requires a mix of written analysis and calculations.

    Example job roles that benefit from choosing APM: Management accounting, Financial business partner, business consultant, working within a finance team in a business in industry.

    Advanced Tax (ATX)

    Simply put, this is tax but at an advanced level. Ideal for those who excelled at the Applied Skills Tax exam. You will need to have detailed knowledge of tax, and this will be rigorously tested. You’ll need to be completely familiar with the way tax calculations are carried out, and be able to interpret information that’s given to you in a different format. You’ll need to be able to do calculations, explain what has happened, explain relationships, and give appropriate advice. However, in practice, TX (UK) is weighted towards numerical calculations, whereas ATX (UK) is weighted towards narrative explanations.

    Example job roles that benefit from choosing ATX: Tax manager, tax director, auditor, working in accountancy practice.

    Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)

    You’ll need to have built a solid knowledge from both the AAA subject and SBR to consider doing this subject. It is essential that you complete the SBR exam before the AAA as it will provide complimentary background knowledge for the exam. It is based on practical scenarios and deals with real-life challenges that an audit manager might face. You will be asked questions that incorporate high level SBR knowledge, risks, and how to use an audit approach to mitigate risks. You’ll need to be able to show that you can think practically and demonstrate scepticism in your interpretation.

    Example job roles that benefit from choosing AAA: Auditor, external auditor working in accountancy practice.

    Advanced Financial Management (AFM)

    Building on knowledge from Applied Skills Financial Management (FM), you’ll need strong maths skills and a high level of technical knowledge and techniques. You’ll have to understand and explain the professional judgement expected of a senior financial executive or advisor, in recommending decisions relating to the financial management of an organisation in private and public sectors.

    Example job roles that benefit from choosing AFM: Corporate finance, banking, chief financial officer, treasury.

    Things to consider when choosing your options

    Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to decide which one to choose:

    • What experience do you already have?
    • How did you do in your Applied Skills exams?
    • What topics actually interest you?
    • Which subject suits the work you do now?
    • Which subject will advance the work you do, and potentially open new career avenues?

    Which two go best together?

    It’s a tricky question to answer, but here are the best combinations.

    ATX and AAA. These two options pair well for anyone working in practice and wanting to progress in this career path.

    AAA and AFM. This is a great pairing for those who are thinking about becoming a Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

    AAA and APM. For someone who is focused on leading a large internal finance team, which also has an internal audit department, AAA and APM are great options.

    Need more information?

    Hopefully this blog has given you some helpful information to assist you in your decisions, but if you would like more advice, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. You can also check out our ACCA Strategic Professional page for more information, to buy your course, and book exams.


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  • Breaking away from academic peer pressure: How Aiman Naseer became an award-winner

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 24, 2023

    We recently spoke to Aiman Naseer, who is currently working towards her Level 7 Internal Audit Professional Apprenticeship.

    After attending a grammar school, and feeling the pressures of going to a Russell Group university, Aiman chose to focus on her career growth through an apprenticeship programme and went on to win Apprentice of the Year at the 2022 Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards.

    We recently spoke to Aiman Naseer who told us about her thoughts and experience.

    Would you be able to tell us a bit about your background, your career and education?

    So, I completed my A-Levels in 2018 in maths, economics and computer science. I went to a grammar school which was very, very university focused. Everything was about trying to get yourself into a Russell Group university.

    I was good academically, but when I was applying to universities, I wasn’t sure whether it was worth it. You’re deciding on a three or four-year programme, and paying so much towards a degree that you might not even enjoy.

    I then came across apprenticeships through my own research. Apprenticeships weren’t promoted in the school that I went to. There was a lack of understanding and awareness about what apprenticeships were at the time. So I spoke to my parents, and after some convincing, they were on board with my decision. However, before I was able to successfully convince them, I gave the university route a go.

    I went to Brunel University for a year to study for a foundation degree in economics and maths in September 2018, and while I was there I just knew that it wasn’t for me. I felt that I was attending twice a week, looking at PowerPoint slides and just not getting much out of the course. I realised that I was, personally, more of a practical learner. So, I just went with my gut and looked more into apprenticeships.

    During that period, I had a look at a couple of schemes and came across an Internal Audit Apprenticeship, which Kaplan offered from Level 4. I never really knew exactly what audit was, so I thought that it would be a good starting point as, from my research, the apprenticeship could give me a large breadth of knowledge across different components of an organisation. So, I knew that I would get an understanding of what I like and don’t like.

    The awareness around apprenticeships

    I think that awareness today has improved, but there's still a lot more we can do. There are still schools that just don't understand the benefits. They want their students to go to the top universities. But they don't see the value of what an apprenticeship programme can offer, in terms of the experience you gain. I think there's a lot more we could do in terms of promoting that further.

    Speech marks

    “Apprenticeships can be seen as a pathway for people who aren’t smart or are less academic. I went to a grammar school, and I did well in my exams, but that doesn’t mean that I had to go to a Russell Group university.”

    So, tell us about the apprenticeship that you’re currently on.

    It’s the Level 7 Internal Audit Professional Apprenticeship now. It’s currently in partnership with Babington and Birmingham City University. So, we go to university to study and cover the modules which will prepare us to sit our professional exams.

    We sit three professional qualification exams with the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), and there are three parts to qualify as a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) which are just part one, part two and part three. So, at the same time, you also get a degree-level qualification that is merged into other professional qualifications along the way.

    How have you found studying with Kaplan during your apprenticeship?

    I did my Level 4 with Kaplan and my experience was positive. I got a lot of support from my Talent Coach and other people in the business. The Talent Coach really helped to drive areas of focus to make sure that I was getting the right experience and exposure to support my studies, so I found it all very supportive.

    Did your Level 4 lead you straight into doing your Level 7 as an apprenticeship?

    Yeah, so the whole Internal Audit Apprenticeship scheme had two apprenticeship qualifications assigned. So, that’s Level 4, which lasted around 18 months. And then because I had that 18 months of experience and the IIA qualification, we were automatically allowed to go onto a Master's level. So, it’s a bit of a fast track where you can get a BA level but then go onto the MSc level programme with all of the experience that you’ve gained.

    Can you tell us a bit about how you went on to win the Multicultural Apprenticeship Award?

    My employer put me forward for the Multicultural Awards last year. The award focused on targeting social mobility and promoting diversity and inclusion while recognising people who have faced challenges during the apprenticeship programme to get to where they are.

    I found out that I was a winner at the ceremony, which took place in November 2022. There were over 600 - 800 people in the room, and I believe 120 finalists across a number of public and private sectors. And in my category, I think there were a lot of people that were nominated, but there were 10 people that I was up against in terms of finalists, and that was all across different public and private sectors.

    It was a huge surprise to have won, I definitely wasn’t expecting it. It was a huge shock and I’m really humbled and proud to have won the award.

    You've been on your apprenticeship for a while now, what has this meant for your career progression and your goals?

    So my apprenticeship programme has helped in my career progression and my goals in terms of the valuable experience that I gain, and I have the opportunity to work with senior people and those who have had interesting career journeys with years of experience behind them. Learning from them has been really valuable for me in terms of understanding how to come across in a workplace, have formal conversations and approach myself, for example.

    It’s helped in terms of my confidence, which has certainly grown since the day I began. I also think that the value of learning the theoretical aspects of the apprenticeship at the university helps when applying it to the practical side of things. So it's been a lot more engaging, rather than going to a university and studying a long course and not knowing what career path to take after that.

    Speech marks

    “I have the opportunity to work with senior people and those who have had interesting career journeys with years of experience behind them.”

    I think we know the answer to this already, but would you recommend an apprenticeship as a form of study?

    Of course, I recommend it. I think there's so much value in it, and I guess you're getting a free degree if you look at it that way.

    You’re getting so many years of experience, and if you benchmark yourself against a graduate who’s maybe 21-22 years old, they’re in thousands of pounds of debt and might not necessarily have the experience to show for it. There are a lot of benefits of an apprenticeship that just aren’t seen from this perspective.

    If you could go back and speak to your former self when you were in school looking at your next steps, what advice would you give?

    I'd definitely say to be open. As I said before, there are going to be people who don’t have that awareness. But don’t feel like because people have gone through a certain pathway you have to go through that pathway yourself. Explore, research, and assess the options that are available to you.

    The one thing that I don’t like is that sometimes apprenticeships can be seen as a pathway for people who aren’t smart or are less academic. That perception has to change. I went to a grammar school, and I did well in my exams, but that doesn’t mean that I had to go to a Russell Group university.

    I could have gone to university if I wanted to, but I knew that this path was right for me. So follow your gut, and do your research. I knew that I enjoyed maths, economics and analytical subjects during school, so I knew that this was the industry that I wanted to go into. So, if there is something that interests you, definitely research and look into different pathways to get to where you want to be. University isn’t the only option, there are other options for you as well.

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  • Meet our Head of Academic Support: Rachel Harrison

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 21, 2023

    We recently caught up with Rachel Harrison, Head of Kaplan’s Academic Support. She spoke about the importance of having access to a tutor and support when studying.

    Could you tell us about your career history so far?

    I studied French and German as a degree and taught English at a secondary school in Germany for a year as part of that, and I really enjoyed teaching while travelling. Then, when I graduated, I wanted to work in business, so I completed the ACA qualification with the ICAEW to become a Chartered Accountant because that seemed like a well-regarded qualification that could open a lot of doors.

    So I studied for my ACA exams for three years, and whilst I was doing that I was also working in audit for a small audit firm in Yorkshire, and continued to work in audit for another two years after I qualified. After that, I decided to take a career break and have children. I was at home with my children for around nine years, but during that time I was doing freelance accountancy work and also marking for the ACCA and Kaplan.

    Someone I knew at Kaplan told me that a maternity cover position had arisen in the former Kaplan Distance Learning department. This required helping learners who were studying ACCA, CIMA and AAT via a distance learning course. I initially worked there for a couple of days a week which then turned into a full-time job. Eventually, we became the Academic Support team, supporting all learners at Kaplan. This led to my promotion to tutor manager and then the Head of Academic Support.

    What is your job role and what does this entail?

    I'm Head of Academic Support and I lead a team of around 45, made up of Functional Skills tutors, Progression Advisors, and accountancy and tax tutors. Learners can send us queries about any of the content that they’re stuck on while they’re not in class or when they are studying remotely, and we’ll help them with that.

    The Progression Advisors help OnDemand learners stay on track with their studies so they make good progress through their professional qualifications, and they support those who have failed an exam. The Functional Skills tutors support apprentices with Maths and English skills.

    What does the Academic Support Team do specifically to help students?

    So, it’s like three mini teams within one department: the Accountancy and Tax tutors, Progression Advisors and Functional Skills tutors.

    For Academic Support tutors, if a learner has been in class, when they come home they might be looking at questions and are not sure what to do. Whatever they might be struggling with, they can go onto their MyKaplan account and send us a live chat, email or request a call back from a tutor to get help. They don’t have to wait to go to the next class to ask for help, they can get it straight away.

    But that’s the same with anyone studying through a Kaplan course. You don’t need to have a classroom tutor to get help. All learners have us there to help whenever they’re struggling. We also aim to answer queries within four hours for most qualifications, so they know that we will have a quick turnaround time.

    If a learner needs to achieve Level 2 qualifications in Maths and English as part of their apprenticeship as they don’t have prior exemptions, their Talent Coach will refer them over to us. The Functional Skills Tutors will see them through their Maths and English journey, making sure they complete the relevant exams and help them overcome any weak areas. They run live online classes for Maths and English and will help the apprentices outside of those classes on a one-to-one basis.

    The Progression Advisors reach out to learners who are falling behind with their studies and track their progress. They help to keep learners motivated to book their exams and prepare for the exam date to help them pass and progress through their chosen qualifications. The Progression Advisors will also reach out to anyone who’s failed an exam and give them some tips on how to get back on track. After that, they’ll pass the learner over to the tutors on the team who will give them technical advice.

    What would you say the biggest improvement has been since you joined Kaplan?

    I think creating the Academic Support team because learners don't have to wait now for a response from a tutor. They've always got a tutor on hand. We're open on Saturdays, (9 am to 5 pm), and then Sundays and bank holidays (9 am - 1 pm), as well as weekday evenings until 8 pm, so learners can know that they've always got access to someone who can help them and that just enables them to keep going and not feel like they need to struggle alone at home.

    Speech marks

    “There are times when you don’t feel comfortable asking in a class full of people, so it’s easier to talk one-to-one through email or chat.”

    Is there anything that you do that some learners might not already know about?

    Sometimes I’m surprised when a Talent Coach tells a learner about us and they don’t always know that Academic Support is there. I also don’t think people know that they can reach out to us for resit advice too, and that’s something that we’re trying to work on raising awareness of at the moment.

    As well as supporting learners, we also help out with reviewing the quality of marking of course assessments and the quality of the OnDemand study materials.

    What makes Academic Support important?

    As long as you are enrolled on a course, you’ll have access to Academic Support tutors. And I think that having access to a tutor is vital because I can remember when I was a student, being at home and staring at my books not knowing what to do. Then I used to have to wait to go back to class and wait for someone to help me then.

    There are times when you don’t feel comfortable asking in a class full of people, so it’s easier to talk one-to-one through email or chat. The fact that we have live chat access means that you can still talk through a query but in your own home. You’ve always got that access to a tutor but you can do it at a time that suits you and in a comfortable environment.

    We also have the Progression Advisors on hand to give learners tips on how to keep motivated, prepare study plans and plan their revision time, and the Functional Skills tutors to help learners with the fundamental Maths and English skills that they need for their working and personal lives

    We are here to support you.

    If you need any advice or guidance with your studies, reach out to the Academic Support tutors via your ‘contact a tutor’ option on your MyKaplan. You can email, live chat or request a call back (UK only) from a tutor.

    If you are interested in starting your accounting journey, AAT is usually a great place to begin. Have a look at our AAT courses for more information. We are always here to help you through your studies.

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  • How to pass CIMA P3

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 14, 2023

    The CIMA P3 is a tricky paper but it is doable. Keep in mind this is an MA degree-level paper, so don’t worry if you’re struggling - it’s not supposed to be too easy!

    A common problem with the CIMA P3 exam is that learners will attempt to answer questions just through rote learning. Some of the questions in the exam will be quite subtle in testing how you would apply your knowledge to a particular situation. So, it’s not always useful just to know the general ‘rules.’

    Rote learning

    When it comes to studying for an exam, many learners fall into the trap of rote learning. This is where you memorise the content, usually through repetition. Although this may help your brain to remember the content, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to actively apply this to your exam.

    It’s extremely important to practice questions before the day of your exam. Ensure that you have a realistic revision period before your exam where you can practice what you’ve learnt. We usually recommend at least four weeks.

    Use your exam kit or online mock exams to apply the knowledge to the exam-style questions, where you can then pinpoint your weaker areas and topics that you need to look over. This will also help you understand the content, rather than just remember it.

    A good example of a question where you will need to apply your knowledge is this one:

    “Simon plc is an engineering company that provides consultancy services for other engineering companies in the water industry.

    Its head office is based in the UK’s second-largest city and employs several thousand staff worldwide.

    There are seven directors on the main board at Simon and a further nine non-executive directors. The main board holds a chair, a chief executive officer, a selling and marketing director, a research and learning director, a finance director, a procurement manager, and a human resources director.

    The non-executive directors are mainly retired engineers, however, there are also non-executives with a sales and finance background. Many of them have been non-executive directors at Simon plc for ten years, and are experienced in the way it operates. They offer advice and assistance whenever the directors ask, and they have a wealth of knowledge, which Simon plc finds invaluable.

    Simon plc is listed on the UK stock exchange and as such has to meet the UK Corporate Governance Code. Therefore, it has a remuneration committee, a nominations committee, a risk committee, and an audit committee.

    The audit committee is compromised of five members - four non-executive directors and a chairperson - the finance director. The committee has met only twice this year, but other parts of Simon pls appear pleased with the committee’s decisions and actions.

    The committee has always agreed with the management accounts and financial statements produced by the company, and they are happy with the level of financial controls in place throughout Simon plc.

    The external audit usually goes smoothly and very few points are raised in the management letter that the audit committee receives. Any points that are raised are usually implemented immediately. “

    Which of the following statements is correct:

    (Select all that apply)

    There are too many engineers on the audit committee.
    There are insufficient members on the audit committee.
    The audit committee is not independent.
    The audit committee has not held sufficient meetings in the year.
    The non-executive directors have been in post too long to be considered independent.

    Many people will answer this by saying the audit committee has not had enough meetings per year. Because, if we read the rules:

    “It is for the audit committee chairman, in consultation with the company secretary, to decide the frequency and timings of its meetings. There should be as many meetings as the audit committee’s role and responsibilities require.

    It is recommended that there should be no fewer than three meetings during the year, held to coincide with key dates within the financial reporting and audit cycle. However, most audit committee chairmen will wish to call more frequent meetings.”

    So, "there should be as many meetings as the audit committees roles and responsibilities require." In this case, while below the recommendation of three, the two meetings that they are having are enough.

    The logic for a question like this is that the examiner doesn’t want candidates to just memorise the content, but to apply their knowledge.

    Another issue facing many students who attempt a lot of questions is that sometimes they see a similar question in an exam as they did before, and miss the slight subtle differences.

    So, attempt as many questions as you can, but take the time to debrief yourself. Why is an option correct or incorrect? You should be taking as long debriefing as you would do answering the questions.

    Struggling with your revision?

    If you need any support with the content, you can contact the Academic Support Team through the ‘contact a tutor’ option on your MyKaplan. You can email, live chat or request a call back from our expert tutors who will support you with any of those trickier topics. But remember to attempt the questions yourself before asking for the answer.

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  • Exam tips from expert tutors

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 28, 2023

    Worried about the big exam day? The Academic Support Team have shared their tips and advice.

    Preparing for your exam can be difficult. It is common to feel overwhelmed when sitting under exam conditions and trying to remember all of the information that you’ve learnt. However, our expert tutors have provided their advice on how to remain calm, manage your time and answer each question to the best of your potential.

    Let’s take a closer look …

    Read the question - It sounds like common sense, but many learners do fail exams because they are not reading the questions carefully. This can be due to factors like stress, struggling to concentrate and anxiety, which is all fine and normal! Just take a deep breath, read the question, and think about your answer.

    The examiner spends time setting the questions, which are then reviewed for clarity and level of difficulty by the examining team. As such, you need to understand what you’re being asked to do. Misreading the question can lead to answering it in a way that the examiner has not asked for, therefore leading to failure. Take your time, understand the requirements and highlight any keywords.

    Plan your answer - This might sound familiar and a boring reminder but again, failure to plan is planning to fail. The problem with not planning is that somewhere in the middle of your answer, you may realise that you are not answering the question, which can then waste more time and add to your stress.

    Although at the time it may feel like you’re using up precious time that could be answering the question, it’s extremely important to know what you’re going to write before you write it. A quick plan will help you to capture all the requirements of the question. When revising, get into the habit of planning essay-type questions, and don’t try to practice this for the first time while in the real exam.

    Selecting your questions - If possible, attempt the easiest question(s) first as this will help your nerves to settle. No matter how prepared you are for the exam, you are likely to be nervous on exam day. Doing the questions that you find easier first can calm your nerves and give you a confidence booster when you are planning your time and answers.

    Keep in mind that every exam is different and you will need to adapt your approach depending on the exam paper that you are sitting. So, this advice is not prescriptive and universal. In an exam structured in sections, you may want to do sections C, A, and then B, for example.

    Keep to your time as much as possible - When planning specific time limits per question, there is a strong temptation to finish a question that you have started if you’ve run over your set time. However, this approach can adversely impact your time management meaning you might lose time to complete some of the easier questions elsewhere in the exam.

    Try to keep to your time restrictions and move back to complete any questions if you have time in the end.

    Don’t get stuck on one question - Avoid getting stuck on one question. Looking at a question that you are going to struggle with for a long time can be detrimental to time management. Leave the question and move on and come back to it later. You will be surprised that when you come back later you might have the key to unlock the tricky part of the question and view it in a completely different light.

    Looking for more support?

    If you are enrolled on a course with us, you are able to contact the Academic Support Team via your MyKaplan. You can email, live chat or request a call back from our expert tutors who can support you with any of those trickier topics.

    Ready to sit your exam?

    Book your exam now

  • Enter our WorldSkills UK Accounting Technician Competition

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 24, 2023

    Enter your team between 27th February - 24th March.

    WorldSkills UK is a charity that partners with employers, education providers, and the government to help bring apprentices together in a competitive setting. And now, the WorldSkills UK Accounting Technician competition is looking for talented students of accountancy to enter again in 2023.

    The competition will allow apprentices to test their abilities and knowledge against other peers and world-class standards.

    What is the competition?

    The Accounting Technician competition has been designed to reflect the role of an accountant, while teams of 2-3 competitors will come together and complete a series of tasks. Competitors can use this opportunity to showcase their knowledge but also fill in any skills gaps that they find missing.

    Just taking part is greatly beneficial: entrants will be sure to feel rewarded as 97% of previous WorldSkills UK competitors say that they improved their technical skills, with 93% improving their employability and personal skills. The average earnings of those who participated in these competitions are 60% higher than others in a comparable group.

    Who is eligible to participate?

    • You will need to work in a team of 2-3 for this competition
    • There is no limit on the number of competitors permitted to enter per organisation
    • There is no age limit
    • It is intended for those studying, training and/or working in the accounting and finance sector

    All competitors much meet at least one of the following criteria:

    • undertaking Level 3 or 4 apprenticeships, or the first year of the Level 7 apprenticeship
    • undertaking an equivalent qualification (for example, HND in accounting)
    • have completed a Level 3 or 4 apprenticeship within the past 12 months.

    Why should you enter?

    • Prove your talent in a globally recognised space
    • Be inspired by peers, and colleagues, and represent the future of the industry
    • Be in with the chance of receiving a Gold Medal and national recognition
    • Boost your CV and skills
    • Access to additional equipment and resources
    • Enhance your team working and communication skills
    • The winning team could also get the chance to represent the UK at a global level

    Key dates and entry requirements:

    • 27th February - 24th March 2023. Registrations
    • April - May 2023. The first stage of the competition is an online test
    • 15th June 2023. The second stage of the competition for the highest scoring teams in the first stage. Competitors take part in an online competition
    • July 2023. Finalists are announced
    • End October 2023. Development session via Zoom to prepare for the National Finals
    • November 2023 (dates tbc). The finalists come together to compete in the National Finals in person

    For further details about the Accounting Technician competition, or to enter your team before the 24th of March, go to the competition webpage and read the handbook with all of the rules and guidelines or contact

    Want to enter your team?

    Find out more

  • Revision tips from expert tutors

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 14, 2023

    Studying online or revising for your exam? The Academic Support Team have shared their tips and advice.

    Revising for your exam can be a long process. While you are working towards the dreaded exam date, you may struggle with your motivation, and confidence while searching for any opportunity to procrastinate rather than study. It is common to feel overwhelmed or stressed when it comes to revising for an exam or learning new material, especially when studying online. However, with advice from our expert tutors in the Academic Support Team, you will start to feel much more confident about your exam.

    Let’s take a closer look …

    Effective revision requires planning and strict discipline

    Allow yourself on average a minimum of four weeks or more to revise, and then plan how many hours you will commit to revision a week. A useful approach would be to look at the number of questions in the exam kit and divide them by the number of weeks that you plan to revise.

    If you have 200 questions in the exam kit, it means you could do 50 questions on average a week (200 questions over four weeks). This is just a guide - the bottom line is you need to have some sort of plan for your revision that you follow consistently.

    Speech marks

    “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

    Active revision versus passive revision

    Reading your study manuals from back to front and front to back many times without revision is an ineffective way to prepare for the exam. This is called ‘passive revision.’ Technical knowledge is just the starting point.

    The real exam will test you on how you apply the technical knowledge to different scenarios presented in the form of exam questions. As such, just reading through your materials is not the best way to revise.

    The most effective way to revise is through question practice no matter how hard the questions might be. This can be considered as ‘active revision.’ The more you can engage your brain in question practice, the better you will remember things and then the better you become more accustomed to exam-style questions.

    Question practice is interactive and will help to highlight knowledge gaps in the syllabus that you may have. So, don’t shy away from questions! Attempt practice questions under timed conditions during revision. A good rule of thumb is to allocate 1.8 minutes per mark. So, for a 20-mark question, aim to spend 36 minutes. Time is a precious resource that you can’t afford to throw away in an exam.

    Manage your time effectively

    Avoid study sessions that are too long. The human brain can only concentrate for a certain period, so revision sessions for 1-2 hours are much more effective than sitting down to study for four hours.

    Exercise regularly

    Physical exercise stimulates the brain, improving your concentration levels and elevating your mood. Ultimately, this can reduce exam-related stress. So, when you sit down to study and feel that you can’t concentrate, try to partake in some physical activity - go for a run, walk or do some yoga so that you can clear your brain and concentrate better.

    Topic/question spotting

    The biggest factor behind exam anxiety is not knowing what questions or topics will come up. As a result, many learners fall into the habit of topic or question-spotting. This is a very dangerous activity when it comes to revising!

    Topic spotting is only attempting to revise the topics or questions that you find easier, thus potentially giving yourself a false sense of security. You need to cover the whole syllabus, including (if not especially) the difficult topics.

    Adopt the ‘if it is in the syllabus, it can be tested’ attitude. For students sitting exams such as the CIMA Objective papers, the examiner can easily test every topic that is in the syllabus. Therefore, you want to aim to be in a position where you feel confident in each area.

    Use mnemonic devices

    During your revision phase, use active tools like mnemonics, or memory devices, which will help you recall larger pieces of information. Form lists including characteristics, steps, stages, parts etc.

    For example, CLUMP can be used to remember Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions - (Collectivism/individualism, Long-term orientation, Uncertainty avoidance, Masculinity/femininity, Power distance).

    The night before the exam

    It is easy for learners to fuel the ‘exam eve’ with caffeinated drinks to the detriment of a good night's sleep. If you haven’t covered the syllabus, trying to do it all overnight is as impractical as it is dangerous. Getting little sleep can increase your levels of anxiety, and you will also want to feel refreshed and ready to sit the exam in the morning.

    Instead, plan your revision, look over the last bits of knowledge gaps or trickier topics, and get enough sleep the night before. Aim to wake up the next morning earlier, remember to eat breakfast and have some water. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

    Looking for more support?

    If you are enrolled on a course with us, you are able to contact the Academic Support Team via your MyKaplan. You can email, live chat or request a call back from our expert tutors who can support you with any of those trickier topics.

    Ready to book your exam?

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  • Should I study ACCA or CIMA?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 01, 2023

    The question of whether to study ACCA or CIMA is a common one that we get asked, and it's not an easy one to answer. Both qualifications are highly respected in the world of accountancy and both can lead to exciting and successful careers.

    So, how do you decide which is right for you? We'll explore some of the key differences between ACCA and CIMA so that you can make an informed decision about which route is best for you.

    If you choose to study ACCA

    The globally-recognised ACCA qualification is great to have if you’re aiming to attract the big leagues in the field of accounting and finance. Benefitting from its international standing, the ACCA certification can open up a whole host of exciting opportunities across a range of industries.

    Plus, if you've got ambitions to work overseas, having an ACCA certification could really enhance your employability prospects. So when it comes to preparing yourself for the competitive world of accounting, it’s worth considering ACCA with its boundless potential within and outside the professional practice.

    If you choose to study CIMA

    CIMA has been at the forefront of driving the next generation of finance and management professionals. With a focus on disrupting and improving traditional financial management strategies, CIMA offers its members diverse opportunities to develop skills beyond what is taught in the world's leading business schools.

    From developing a better understanding of accounting standards and regulations to utilising an expansive suite of investment analysis tools, CIMA members have access to an extensive network of industry experts and resources.

    The key differences between CIMA and ACCA

    Both CIMA and ACCA are two popular qualifications for aspiring accountants. While both offer well-renowned teachings that open up incredible career prospects in accountancy, there are some key differences between the two.

    CIMA has set modules that you are required to complete before qualifying. This is often heavily focused on management accounting and corporate finance roles, while also offering a great focus on real-world applications.

    ACCA has the flexibility to choose options at the final level which allows those who work in more practice roles to concentrate on their chosen area. With ACCA, you can concentrate on financial reporting, audit, and taxation along with the option to choose the advanced financial and/or performance management modules.

    It can be argued that ACCA will allow you to keep your options open for a bit longer. But with CIMA, you will find yourself in the perfect position to go into management accounting in industry settings.

    Both qualifications require hard work and dedication. However, by really understanding what each qualification has to offer, you can decide which pathway best suits your goals.

    An insight into ACCA-qualified career paths

    With the full ACCA qualification, you can pursue a diverse range of career paths and unlock doors to a wealth of exciting opportunities. There are so many options available as ACCA will open the door to jobs in any sector such as banking, investments, insurance, or consulting, to name a few. Think of it as the opportunity to explore job roles from IT consultancy and assurance to international tax services.

    Average ACCA salary (Hays, 2022)

    When considering the salary, it is important to note that economic factors and other considerations, such as your level of experience and the job role, will be noted. However, the Hays Accountancy & Finance Salary Guide 2022 indicates that an ACCA-qualified professional can expect to earn between £38,000 and £48,000 per year in the UK. Depending on the experience, you can earn up to £100,000 and beyond!

    An insight into CIMA-qualified career paths

    CIMA is the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants, specialising in finance, accounting, and business-related subjects, so obtaining the qualification will make you well-positioned for a range of career paths. After receiving your CIMA certification, you can move into senior roles in financial management, corporate consulting, and even entrepreneurship. Whether you’re interested in a career within a large organisation or aiming to create something entirely new with small businesses, the expertise developed through studying for this certification will support all types of endeavours.

    Average CIMA salary (Hays, 2022)

    Again, when it comes to the average salary, this will differ depending on your experience, region, job title, and other factors. However, the Hays Accountancy & Finance Salary Guide 2022 indicates that a CIMA-qualified professional can expect to earn between £34,000 and £50,000 per year in the UK. Similar to ACCA, with more experience and factors such as a more responsible job role, you can expect to earn much more.

    CIMA or ACCA?

    With so much to consider, it can be difficult to decide which one is the right choice for you. It all depends on your career ambitions as to which one will provide you with the best credentials and the biggest advantage in the workforce.

    In a nutshell - ACCA can be considered as more diverse in the accounting and finance field, whereas CIMA focuses much more on management accounting and finance. But both qualifications have much to offer so it’s worth taking the time to research the modules and teachings to make sure that you’re making a well-informed decision.

    Talk to professionals in the industry who have already gone through the process and listen to their advice, or take a look at what our Kaplan learners say. 

    With both having a highly respected reputation within the accounting industry, whichever you choose will eventually lead you down a path of success. All that matters is that whichever way you choose, it should be personalised for meeting your unique goals.

    Still uncertain?

    Have a browse through our CIMA and ACCA course pages and take a look at the modules to see what you will learn to assess how it will benefit your career aspirations.

    For more information, you can also contact our Student Services Team by calling 0161 259 7400 or via email:


    Want more information?

    Get in touch

  • Completing the full CIMA course through Distance Learning - Daniel’s story

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 03, 2023

    CIMA student, Daniel Salas, completed all of the CIMA Professional papers after studying via the Distance Learning method.

    Praising the support provided by the Academic Support team at Kaplan, Daniel’s determination paid off in October after he completed his full CIMA qualification.

    Daniel is currently a Senior Finance Analyst after starting his CIMA studies with Kaplan back in 2018. After initially beginning his studies through printed material only, he found that the online Distance Learning study method would be better for him when sitting exams. Since transferring over to this method, he was overwhelmed by the support that was on offer for such an independent method.

    Have you always had an interest in finance?

    I’ve always had a good interest in accounting, finance, and everything about financial advice and management. I was actually hesitant between studying ACCA or CIMA, but I think for my background CIMA was the best choice.

    Studying via Distance Learning with Kaplan

    I chose to study CIMA as you need to be qualified to advance your career in finance. What prompted me to go with Kaplan is that they offer the official books for CIMA. I actually just went with the books at first, without any classes or online courses, and then I failed the CIMA F1 exam due to the lack of time. Not because of the material but because I didn’t know how to approach it.

    Did you know?

    Qualified CIMA members earned more than twice the national average in 2016, average earnings among qualified members reached £64,011 in 2016, £36,411 more than the current average UK wage.

    There were a few things, like the speed of the exam, that made me decide to go with Distance Learning. Initially, it was a good price for me as I couldn’t do a classroom course, so I went for it and started asking questions, but was very surprised about the speed and quality of the feedback from all of the different tutors. The support that they gave me was very good and very fast, and it helped me a lot to keep going.

    If I had any questions, I just sent the tutors an email. They would come back to me so quickly, which is what made me keep using Kaplan throughout all of my studies. I never thought about using another provider, because the tutors are so good at what they do. I think the main reason why I stuck to my studies is because of that relationship. It’s not something that you’ll find with other suppliers. The tutors were so supportive that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything from the classroom.

    Speech marks

    “It’s not something that you’ll find with other suppliers.”

    At some point, you might feel like if you don't go to a classroom then you’re missing something. But the tutors advised me to just study online and ask as much as I needed, and that for sure would be fine, and they were right. That’s what surprised me, I actually passed all of my exams without a single class. There were a couple of them that I failed because the exam was difficult and I was short of time, but that wouldn’t have made any difference if I went to a classroom or not.

    Staying motivated while studying via Distance Learning

    It’s difficult sometimes because you have to be very persistent and motivated. Sometimes we want to give up or start later, but you have to be very disciplined. My way to study was to do it for an hour and a half every night. I thought that if I did a little bit every day then it would build my knowledge and it wouldn’t demotivate me. When you learn new things, it’s very nice. You start feeling good and knowledgeable from studying and reading. On the other hand, if you keep leaving it until the end of the week when you’re tired on a weekend, you just won’t do it.

    If you can put in an hour every day, it’ll help to keep the ball rolling and will give you that motivation to keep going. But always use the support from the tutors because they’re happy to help you out all of the time, which is also very motivating.

    Did you face any challenges?

    Yes, I failed one exam three times which was the CIMA P3. After failing I thought I couldn’t do it anymore because there was nothing more that I could do. I got to the point where I had studied everything, I’d worked through all of the material and I didn’t know what else I could do.

    I spoke to the tutors online and they told me to keep going and to try to do it again, like every month or so, and see how it goes. I actually think it helped because the more times I’d see the exam then the more familiar I was with the questions and notice that it was similar to what I did before, so it gave me more time to think. That was the key because when you go into the P3 exam in particular then you know that the case studies are going to be long and you need to read fast. It can be really difficult to do the exam in the time given.

    So, I just needed to keep doing it and invest a little bit more time and money sitting the exam until I was able to read each question once and answer it straight away. That was the turning point, I didn’t want to keep doing this exam more than two or three times, and sometimes you need someone to just tell you to keep going, which is why the tutors really helped.

    What are your plans for the future?

    I’m going to try and see if I can get some type of role in terms of more managing, like a Finance Manager role, which will help me to achieve the things that I want. Perhaps I’ll do my MBA next year, but that’s something that I still need to think about. At the moment, I’m going to try to work hard where I am, learn and see how it goes, and if I have the time I’ll start my MBA.

    Do you have any advice for people looking to pursue a career in accounting?

    I think that my advice would be to do it. Dedicate one hour a day at least and use the tutor support because it’s really good. If I’m honest, I think that if you start studying then there will be a point where you will want to give up when the exams get harder, and you might fail an exam but you just need to keep going and keep trying because it’ll pay off in the end when you’ve got that membership. It’s so rewarding. So, never give up!

    Speech marks

    "You don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, but once you get there you can say “I did it!”

    If I did it, anyone can do it with dedication. I don’t know how, but it is doable. Just keep going, keep trying, and you will get there.

    Is there anything that you’d like to add?

    I’d just like to acknowledge and pass my thanks on to the Academic Support team. I’m very thankful for all of the things that they did for me and sometimes I actually miss the email conversations with them!

    Interested in studying CIMA?

    For all CIMA courses, have a look at our qualification overview page.

    Interested in studying CIMA?

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  • How can a company improve its return on capital employed (ROCE)?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 29, 2022

    Return on capital employed (ROCE) is often seen by many as a key success indicator for a business. The theory is that management has been entrusted with the net assets of the business, with a duty to make a profit from them. It helps to assess how efficiently a business employs all its available capital in generating profits.

    ROCE is calculated as ROCE = Earnings Before Interest and Taxation/Capital Employed and shows you the amount of profit a company is generating per £1 of capital employed in the business. The more profit per £1 a company can generate, the better. Thus, a higher ROCE indicates stronger profitability across the company and can be used as a comparison company to company or year on year.

    Unlike Return on Equity (ROE), ROCE gives an idea as to how well the company is using all of its funding to generate profits.

    How can it be improved?

    Looking at the formula (ROCE = EBIT/CE) it’s simple, we either increase EBIT or reduce CE. However, in practice, it is slightly more difficult.

    Let’s take a closer look …

    Earnings before Interest and Taxes (EBIT)

    Starting with EBIT, the higher the revenue and the lower the costs, the better the ROCE. In many businesses, staff or wages are the biggest cost, so it would be tempting to reduce these. This can be achieved by a reduction in the headcount or by lowering the rate of pay. This would, in effect, increase ROCE in the short term. But is it the ideal solution?

    It is this thinking that has contributed to the poor productivity levels seen in many UK businesses. Most companies say their staff are a key asset but are seen by management as a cost, and by reducing these costs they will build a stronger and more profitable business. In many hierarchical businesses, staff are recruited, managed and appraised on the hours they work and this has the effect of making staff work longer and not necessarily more efficiently.

    Good managers see things differently. They do consider employees as an asset. In accounting terms, assets are company resources which have future economic value. Instead of seeing employees as a problem, these managers see them as a valuable resource. They know that people have the capability to grow sales, satisfy customers, improve processes, innovate products, and do countless other things that add money to both the top and bottom line which in return will increase the ROCE.

    Capital Employed (CE)

    Turning now to Capital Employed. Paying off debt will reduce liabilities and in turn increase the ROCE as will restructuring the existing debt or refinancing at lower interest rates or better repayment terms.

    A key area is to improve the management of working capital. Better inventory management and credit control can often be very effective in improving a company’s overall financial performance. Proper monitoring, organisation and coordination of cash tied up in working capital can significantly improve a company’s cash flow. By focusing on this area the ‘released cash’ can be reinvested into the company which will enable it to grow and increase its market base.

    Many businesses accumulate unnecessary assets that are no longer needed. They have, what I call, a ‘lazy balance sheet’. You don’t make profits by owning assets. You make profits by using them.

    So, cleaning up your ‘lazy balance sheet’ is vital – reducing excess plant and equipment, receivables and inventory will all improve business performance which will improve your ROCE.

    Want to know more?

    If you’re looking to learn how to manage numbers more effectively, our accounting courses offer the best ways to learn. We have apprenticeship opportunities for both learners and employers to help upskill the workplace.

    Find out more about our accounting courses and apprenticeships.

    Looking to gain more knowledge?

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  • The treatment of dividends (sub and parent) in consolidation

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 22, 2022

    We know we are going to get a consolidation question in the exam and more likely than not we will have to deal with a dividend. This cheat sheet will help you understand the adjustments that you need to make.

    If you’re looking to sit your ACA FAR, ACCA FR, ACCA SBR exam, or even potentially the CIMA F1, CIMA F2, or AAT Q22 DAIF papers, you might be concerned about the consolidation question. Subsidiaries pay dividends to their owners (Parent and NCI). Any payments made between subsidiaries and parents are classed as intra-group transactions, therefore they need to be removed.

    Let’s have a look at the adjustments.

    Consolidated Statement of Profit and Loss.

    There will be an investment income amount in the Parent’s column which needs to be eliminated. This is the parent’s % of the total dividend paid by the subsidiary.

    Kaplan advises that this adjustment should be in the Parent's column, as per the pro forma in your Kaplan Summary Notes.

    Please note: The ICAEW do sometimes put this in the adjustments column instead, and either is fine. The reason it doesn't matter either way is: the totals from P's column and the adjustments column in the Working 2 do not feed through to other workings or the Financial Statements (only S's total does) so you get the same final answer either way.

    Consolidated Statement of financial position

    For group retained earnings this is already dealt with as the RE figure from the subsidiary will have already taken the dividend figure out. In other words, the below journal has been posted in the subsidiary's individual account.

    Dr RE *Dividend amount*

    Cr Cash *Dividend amount*

    This means that when we include our share of the post-acquisition movement in net assets, this dividend has been eliminated.

    Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows

    When we are looking at a group statement of cash flows, any dividend paid by the subsidiary to the NCI should be disclosed separately. These will form part of their own line in the Cash flows from financing activities. To work out the dividend we need to follow the below working:

    Screenshot of non-controlling interest

    The treatment of dividends (associate and parent) in consolidation

    With dividends, these are accounted for as being a deduction from retained earnings when they are paid and so the associate would

    DR Retained Earnings

    CR Cash

    In their individual financial statements.

    The parent when they receive them would

    DR Cash

    CR Investment Income in the SPL

    In their individual financial statements.

    Consolidated Statement of Profit and Loss.

    The dividend received from the associate is eliminated from the parent's investment income as, if it isn't, then it is effectively being double counted when you recognise the share of associate profit in the CSPL.

    Consolidated Statement of financial position

    On consolidation when calculating the value of the "investment in associate" on the CSFP we take the cost of the investment plus the parent's share of the movement in net assets since the date of acquisition.

    As net assets include your retained earnings the payment of any dividend would already have been deducted from this and so no adjustment is needed.

    Note: If however we were only given the profit that the associate had earned since the date of acquisition then we would add the parent's share of this figure to the cost of the investment and then deduct any dividends that had been received on account of these profits in the year.

    Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows

    When we have a cash flow question, we are generally given the CSFPs and a CSPL and we are not told the amount of the dividend that has been received from the associate in the year as they want us to calculate it. Therefore, we use the value of the Associate in the CSFP at the start and end of the year. Increase the b/f figure with the profit that the parent would be entitled to in the year and then the missing figure will be the dividends that have been paid (and received by the parent).

    Need more advice?

    If you are enrolled on a Kaplan course and are studying towards your exam, you can contact a tutor via your MyKaplan for support.

    Using your MyKaplan ‘contact a tutor’ option, you can email, live chat or request a call back from an expert tutor and they’ll be happy to help you try and get those marks needed to pass.

    The Academic Support Team opening times are:

    Monday - Thursday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
    Friday: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
    Saturday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Sunday (and UK Bank Holidays): 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

    Want to kickstart your accounting career?

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  • Exam tips by Chelsea Andersen

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 06, 2022

    One of our Kaplan Tutors, Neil Da Costa, recently interviewed Chelsea Andersen after she received the news that she had passed her final ACCA exams.

    Chelsea did not have an easy time studying as she suffers from a long-term illness, but her persistence enabled her to achieve success.

    Let’s take a look at Chelsea’s exam hacks.

    Six hacks shared by Chelsea to help you pass your exams

    1. Surround yourself with positive people

    It is difficult to sit professional exams, so it is easy to accept that failure is inevitable especially when you have failed your exams before. Many students stop believing in themselves and give up. You must be positive and expect to pass.

    Exam tip: Associate yourself with people who have succeeded, as their positive energy is infectious and will help you believe that you will be successful as well.

    2. Make physical exercise part of your routine.

    Chelsea’s illness meant that she appreciated the importance of keeping her body moving, so she built physical exercise into her daily routine. Her interest in being physically fit led to her becoming a professional trainer, which helped her with her studies.

    Exam tip: Exercise helps to pump up your endorphins which improves your mood and mental well-being. Physical activity can significantly help you overcome your worries when preparing for your exams.

    3. Get expert advice and assistance

    Chelsea struggled with the Advanced Tax paper, and it seemed like it was impossible to pass this technical exam. She decided to attend a Kaplan course with Neil Da Costa, who thoroughly explained the technical concepts and gave her the confidence to attempt exam questions. In just three months, she passed Advanced Tax.

    Exam tip: Many of the professional exams are very challenging, so by attending a Kaplan course you can cover the syllabus in manageable chunks. Kaplan tutors are experts in their field. You will receive their support and have a clear strategy to follow.

    4. Attempt exam questions under timed conditions

    The professional accountancy exams are incredibly time pressured. Even well-prepared students find they have inadequate time to understand the question and write up a comprehensive answer. It’s important to remember that you only need to pass the exam, not get everything right.

    Exam tip: In the final month before the exam, spend 70% of all your preparation time attempting previous exams and simulating the actual exam conditions. This battle training is invaluable so you won’t be surprised by the timings in the exam, and you can answer all parts of each question to the best of your ability.

    5. Have a routine: set time aside to study

    One of the reasons students fail their exams is they do not have enough time to study. Chelsea found that getting up at 6am gave her more time for studying. Her routine included her waking up early, having a cup of coffee, and then spending one hour studying. This meant that she did not have to worry about studying after returning home from work when she was tired.

    Exam tip: If you set your alarm for one hour earlier than when you normally wake up, this will give you an extra hour each day to study. You might find that you get tired slightly earlier in the evening, but going to sleep earlier will compensate for this. This will help you get into a healthy lifestyle with good habits and a study mindset.

    6. Reward yourself for your hard work

    Chelsea loves travelling so she planned trips after her exams to motivate her. In the run-up to the exams, where she spent every free minute studying, she did not feel like she was missing out as she knew she could relax after the exam. This enabled her to give 100% of her effort into passing the exams.

    Exam Tip: What are some of the places you would like to visit in the world? It might be a city break or a relaxing beach holiday. Spend some time planning a trip to reward yourself for passing your exams and you will find it easier to get motivated to study.

    Watch the full interview with Chelsea Andersen and Senior Tax Lecturer, Neil Da Costa.

    If you’re interested in ACCA, have a look at our qualification pages.

    Interested in studying ACCA?

    Find out more

    Neil Da Costa is a Senior Tax Lecturer with Kaplan. He believes in keeping things simple and inspiring his students. He is the author of two tax books, Advanced Tax Condensed, and Tax Condensed. These innovative books feature memory joggers enabling students to learn the vast tax syllabus using accelerated learning techniques.

  • In the top 10: Ben Springall provides his advice

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 13, 2024

    When results were released for the August 2023 sitting of CIMA’s CGMA Case Study exams, we found that over one-third of the top 33 placings across all three levels studied with us at Kaplan.

    We recently caught up with one of these high achievers, Ben Springall. After completing his CGMA studies, he discovered that he received a commendation as the tenth in the world for his Strategic Case Study paper.

    He provided some of his tips, insight and career background so far…

    Can you tell me about your career?

    I initially studied at a university in London, and I graduated with a first-class degree from there and went straight on to the Lloyds Banking Group Finance graduate scheme.

    While I was studying, I worked as an intern there for six weeks in Commercial Banking Finance, so I joined their three-year finance graduate scheme straight out of university, which ended in September. And as part of this, I also studied towards CIMA’s CGMA Professional Qualification with Kaplan.

    After finishing my A-levels, I wasn’t too sure where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to do. I went to a career fair with my school, and I spoke to a lot of different universities and looked at different courses. But I’ve always been interested in either banking or finance so it progressed from there.

    How would you compare university to your apprenticeship?

    It’s very different, especially because I started studying my CGMA studies during COVID so I was studying virtually. It was quite a big shift in terms of how I was learning as I was used to face-to-face tuition and support.

    It’s definitely more independent studying CIMA’s CGMA with Kaplan as you’re trusted to do a bit more of it on your own. And especially as there’s more flexibility with when you sit your exams, you need to be more self-driven. Whereas, at university, you’ll have strict deadlines and people pushing you along.

    At university, my course was quite broad in what I would learn so we would touch on a lot of different subjects. But with the CGMA qualification, especially while working at the same time, I noticed that a lot of the theory was directly relevant to my work so, in a way, it was a lot more practical.

    Have you encountered any challenges during your studies?

    I think the first big challenge was COVID, as coming straight out of university and studying online was difficult. And then I had to get used to working during the pandemic virtually as well, so the challenges were changing all the time.

    None of CIMA’s exams are easy, so there are obvious difficulties there. I failed the CGMA P2 paper, and it was the first exam that I’d failed. I do think it is one of the hardest ones. But at that time, I was already finding it quite tough in terms of motivation, so after I failed I wasn't sure what I wanted to do - so don’t worry if you ever get those thoughts, it’s quite normal and you have to remind yourself of why you’re doing all of this.

    In the graduate scheme, we also have competency meetings if you fail an exam, so I think that also added to the pressure a little bit.

    But overall, I definitely think the biggest challenge during the apprenticeship was to motivate myself to get up and redo the P2 paper, and passing that exam was a pivotal moment in establishing my own belief that I could complete the course and see ‘the light at the end of the tunnel.’

    We heard that you completed your apprenticeship project report a lot earlier than expected - do you always try to go above and beyond?

    I definitely always try to. My project report during the apprenticeship was a unique situation as I had to do it for my apprenticeship at the same time as studying for my exam, but I was also looking to roll off the graduate scheme so I didn’t want to leave it to the last minute. So getting it completed as soon as possible avoided any delays but definitely did involve some tight prioritisation and time management.

    But I always try to do everything to the best of my ability. It plays into the industry too as in finance you need to be very specific a lot of the time. So I try to get things done right the first time.

    Achieving 10th in the world with CIMA

    When I was told I achieved tenth in the world for the final exam within CIMA’s CGMA Professional Qualification, I definitely didn’t expect it. I think when I go into an exam, I struggle with thinking quite negatively after it about how it could’ve gone much better, etc. With CIMA’s Objective Test exams, it’s great that you find out your results straight away. But with the Case Study papers, I could spend the next two months or so worrying that I had failed and would have to resit. Of course, this gets worse and worse the closer to results day you get.

    So I definitely wasn’t expecting to get such a high grade.

    I would say that I do go into an exam trying to get the best I can - you’re always aiming to get 100% anyway, and not just a pass. I’ve always aimed to give myself the best chance of passing, but I didn’t go into it expecting a commendation. I can’t imagine too many people go into the exam aiming for a prize, because it’s just a relief when you pass, especially when you’re fully qualified at the end of it all.

    I thought it was a mistake at first, and I was waiting for an email to come through to say that there had been a mix-up and I didn’t get the commendation, but it’s a nice feeling. You’re happy to know you’ve passed the exam, but then finding out I did so well a week or so later was just an extra boost.

    How have you found the support from Kaplan?

    I think the Talent Coaches are really incredible and their support is amazing. Anytime my Talent Coach, Jo, was working she was quick to respond. She was supportive throughout my studies, but would also reassure and talk to me about work-related stuff, so she was always there to listen and give advice. I found it invaluable to have an outside voice I could lean on as I made my way through the graduate journey.

    More than being a Kaplan Talent Coach, she was supportive throughout my whole graduate scheme. All of the lecturers were also great, but my Talent Coach was amazing. It’s like they’re a Talent Coach and a therapist all at the same time.

    How’s the support been from your employer?

    Lloyds Banking Group has been running apprenticeships and doing these qualifications for a long time, so the support is always there from your peers and managers. Whether it’s off-the-job training, graduate events or study leave. But especially when you work in finance, a lot of people have gone through it themselves so they know what it’s like and are very sympathetic and try to help wherever they can.

    It can be quite daunting at times, but that’s just part of being in a competitive environment. They’re investing in us and the support that comes with that is very good.

    If you just need a quick chat with anyone at work, they’re all happy to do it. That investment in time and energy is really important. I also value the trust that they give, as you’re given the space to get things right or wrong on your own, which is really important in an employer and is a very powerful enabler for development.

    Do you have any advice for anyone who is studying?

    I think for anyone looking to study or do an apprenticeship, I’d say you have to stay disciplined and gain the ability to motivate yourself. You need to be OK with failing the odd exam, as it’s possible that you won’t get through it without any challenges. But also try to learn from people who have been there and done it is very useful. Just a quick conversation with someone who’s also been through it can be super, super useful.

    But remember that it’s all possible. It’s not impossible to pass CIMA’s exams and work at the same time, and it’s not impossible to pick yourself up if you fall down along the way. If you’re struggling, just look back on what you’ve already achieved in your life and take inspiration from the fact that you’ve already worked hard to get to where you are and you deserve to see it through to the end.

    Use that motivation to keep going, even if it feels like you’ve had enough. Think about even tougher challenges that you’ve already overcome and take motivation from that.

    Also, part of it for me is that I was the first person in my family to go to university or anything like that - so I always wanted to keep going so that I wasn’t letting other people down. It does depend on every individual’s circumstances but always look back on why you’re doing it in the first place and the people in your personal life that have supported you and want to see you succeed.

    What does the future look like for you?

    I think I’ll take a while off of doing any exams, as there’s been a lot in the past few years. I’d like to continue to grow and develop at Lloyds Banking Group, and I can now spend more time expanding and deepening my understanding of my job role as I don’t have to take any time off for studying.

    I can spend time developing my relationships across the bank too, as well as look into any other areas that I find interesting. But I do think I’ll end up learning something new eventually, whether it’s finance-related or not. I think I’m too used to learning and developing academically to completely give it up.

    Feeling inspired?

    We offer the CGMA’s CIMA full qualification across all study methods. Find out more.

    If you’re interested in an apprenticeship, browse our current vacancies or read more about how to talk to your employer about starting you on an apprenticeship.

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