They say everyone has one book in them – but I did not expect the one I would write would be on group accounts!
Writing a book and getting it published proved to be a long process. It was back in 2005 when I was in Lusaka that I first discussed the idea. I was in Zambia delivering a "Train the Trainer" course for the ACCA with Richard Clarke. One evening – in the bar – he shared with me his idea that he was thinking of writing a book on how to be a good lecturer! What a good idea, I thought, but it was his! We then spent a pleasant evening talking about the books that we could write. Various ideas were thrown around including, I recall, a collection of anecdotes of funny things that have happened in lectures, a biography of Paul Weller and perhaps something technical on accounting. That evening made me realise that I could be an author, but when I got back to the UK, life moved on and I did nothing about it.
It was when I first saw and handled Clare Finch's, A Student's Guide to International Financial Reporting Standards that I was prompted into action. I was blown away by the design and presentation of Clare's book. It was beautiful. Here was a book on accounting that was colourful, interesting and readable. I loved it and thought to myself, I wish it had my name on it! I was inspired there and then and I resolved to write my own student guide book.
I chose to write on group accounts. At the time, IFRS3 Accounting for Business Combinations was about to be issued and this transformed the way that consolidated accounts were being prepared and I knew there was a gap in the market.
In planning the book, I devised a system of breaking down each chapter into various sections – starting with "what's new" – followed by a "worked example" with lots of explanations as to where the numbers were coming from. I incorporated into the text some of the phrases, stories and sometimes silly examples that I use in class to bring topics to life.
Each chapter also had extra "questions to practise", an explanation of the "double entry" as well as a "mind map" for the visual learners. Finally I included in each chapter a nerdy-type "technical corner" which allowed me to explore some of the more theoretical ideas underpinning group accounts – and, well, frankly some of the more obscure issues! Some students love that kind of stuff.
Every three chapters or so were put in a colour coded section – and after each section I prepared a recap chapter which summarised the new proformas and key messages! Recapping is so important to learning. Once I had the basic structures sorted out, the book more or less flowed out of me. Sally Baker edited the first edition of the book and it was certainly better for her invaluable input.
A couple of years after the book was first published, I realised that it needed updating and so a second edition was planned. One reason was the new batch of accounting standards – IFRS10-13 – which made some subtle changes to group accounts e.g. in the way that joint ventures are accounted for. I also wanted to rewrite the first few chapters as, on reflection, the first edition had a tendency to approach the topic from the old to the new and I wanted to just concentrate on the way that group accounts are now prepared.
I also took advantage of the opportunity to add some extra questions and answers online – after all, students cannot work too many questions. Practice makes permanent. The second edition was edited by Ruth Turley and I am very grateful to her for her patience and contribution.
Last month (February 2013)I finally got my hands on a copy of the second edition and I am very happy with it. The design team has done another great job. As a tutor, I love what I do and I get a lot of satisfaction from the input that I have in helping people transform their lives through the opportunities that gaining a professional qualification can give them. As an author, I also now get a nice glow whenever I pop round to my parent's house and see a copy of my book sitting on their coffee table.
The second edition of Tom's book – A Student's Guide to Group Accounts is available from Kaplan Publishing. Use the discount code kmb9dv8-s for £5 off and free delivery!
Tom Clendon teaches Financial Accounting at Kaplan London. He won PQ magazine's Tutor of the Year award in 2009. Tom is a published author, most recently writing a Student's Guide to Group Accounts, now in its second edition, which he describes as a 'creative and satisfying' experience.